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Bill to give religious institutions presumptive charitable status presented to Parliament: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 24, 2013

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A Conservative MP has put forward a bill in Parliament seeking to expand religious freedom in Britain.

On 19 Dec 2012 Peter Bone, the member for Wellingborough, presented a Ten Minute Rule Motion in the House of Commons seeking leave to bring a bill to amend the Charities Act 2011 to “treat all religious institutions as charities”.

Writing on the Conservative Home website, Mr. Bone said the bill would clarify the law to give religious institutions a presumptive status as institutions providing a “public benefit”, therefore eligible for charitable status. The Charities Act 2006 introduced the requirement that all charities, including those advancing religion, education and the relief of poverty, should demonstrate public benefit.

The National Council for Voluntary Organizations, however, said it opposed Mr. Bone’s motion. It “risks downgrading religious charities in the public mind,” Elizabeth Chamberlain of the NCVO said. “Public benefit is what makes a charity a charity, and most are keen to demonstrate the value of their work.”

Mr. Bone said his motion would “not mean an automatic renewal of charitable status, but an acknowledgement of the role religious institutions play in our society.”

“The liberal, secular elite of the Charity Commission are on a very dangerous path of restricting religious freedom,” wrote the Conservative backbencher. “If this government truly believes in religious freedoms then respecting the advancement of religion as a public benefit should be acknowledged, as before, and the Charities Act 2011 amended.”

Mr. Bone cited the case of Preston Down Trust, a Plymouth Brethren congregation, as an example of the Charity Commission’s restricting religious freedom, after it declined to give the congregation charitable status.  On 18 Dec he delivered a letter signed by 113 MPs to 10 Downing Street to “express their deep concern at the Charity Commission’s current posture on registering religious institutions as charities.”

Bishop of Coventry joins House of Lords: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords.
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The Rt. Rev. Christopher Cocksworth

The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Cocksworth joined the House of Lords this week.  On 15 January 2013 Dr. Cocksworth was introduced to the upper house by the Bishops of Birmingham and Exeter and becomes one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.

In a statement, Dr. Cocksworth said: “I greatly look forward to fulfilling the responsibilities of a member of the House of Lords and although my concern will be the good of the whole of society, I hope my contribution to the Lords will be of special value to the life of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Court blocks loyalist convention for Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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Diane Goodstein

Judge Diane Goodstein

The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using the name, symbols or seal of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina – save for Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and the trustees of the diocese.

The 23 January 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein effectively blocks the Episcopal Church and its allies from electing a bishop and standing committee for the minority faction loyal to the national church for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

However, canon lawyer Allan Haley notes the ruling does not prevent those in the diocese who wish to remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church “from meeting, but they will have to adopt a different name.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Restraining Order filed against Episcopal Church in SC case: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies from using the name, symbols of identity of the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

15 more parishes join lawsuit against the Episcopal Church January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reports that 15 further congregations have joined it in their 4 Jan 2013 lawsuit against the national Episcopal Church.

The 22 Jan statement reported that of the dioceses congregations, 31 had joined the lawsuit against the national church, 13 congregations were supporting Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese against the national church but had not yet joined the litigation, nine missions and two parishes had not declared how they would act, while eight parishes and eight missions had indicated they would remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church.

“We are saddened that legal action is necessary to protect our members from an organization that uses the threat of legal action as a cudgel to keep its parishes in line,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

Channel 4 keeps it all in the Anglican family: Get Religion, January 22, 2013 January 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Women Priests.
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January has been a wonderful month for lovers of Anglican ecclesiastical drama. The resignation of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury at year’s end should have led to a few month’s peace and quiet for the Church of England and the wider Anglican world. I had even thought of taking a vacation this month as little of substance appeared on the radar as of late December.

I could count on the penchant of Episcopalians in the United States to sue each other over church property disputes — 88 cases and counting. And there would certainly be some sort of gay story — thank you Washington National Cathedral for announcing you will host gay weddings! But I could write those stories in my sleep — and to tell the truth I would have had a hard time selling them. I could hear the editors say: “You want me to publish another gay Episcopal story? Tell me how is that news?”

But thank goodness for the Church of England. When life get’s me down. When I begin to think my mother in law is right and there is still time to go to law school and have a “respectable” career, the Church of England comes to my rescue. What a month it has been. Fights with the government over gay marriage, fights over gay bishops, and fights over women bishops. The CoE is at its most interesting when it is at war. Liberal and conservative wings in full war cry, possessed of the certainties of the Israelites who went out boldly to hew Agag in pieces and to smite the Amalekites hip and thigh.

Last week the fight over women bishops flared anew, illuminating the dreary skies of Westminster as the lay members of General Synod met at Church House in London to hear a motion calling for the impeachment of the chairman of the House of Laity.

Channel 4 News — which is the fourth British television network (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4) — ran a story entitled “Women bishops: laity votes in no confidence motion,” previewing the meeting. It began:

The debate over women bishops in the Church of England is reignited today as one of the houses of the church’s governing body meets to consider calling for the resignation of its chair.

The House of Laity, part of the General Synod, is meeting in London for an extraordinary meeting to vote on a motion of no confidence in chair Dr Philip Giddings, who spoke against women bishops – directly after the Archbishop elect, Rev Justin Welby spoke in favour.

Canon Stephen Barney, who will propose the motion after setting up a petition, says Dr Giddings’ action “undermined” the speech of the archbishop-elect and were not representative of the house.

The story goes on to give the background to the meeting, noting it was the laity who blocked passage of a bill permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate. The story then quotes the mover of the resolution, giving him space to summarize his views:

Speaking to Channel 4 News ahead of the meeting, Mr Barney, who has insisted the motion is not a personal attack, said the purpose of the meeting was not to debate women bishops in this particular incident, but whether Dr Giddings was representing the house which he chaired.

He said: “I hope that we will have a proper debate. It’s a question of whether this was appropriate given that he was not representing the view of the vast majority of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and indeed all but 74 of the House of Laity.”

Three more paragraphs of quotes from Mr. Barney are provided, followed by the line:

Dr. Giddings has not yet commented on the issue and said that “the time for debate is when we have the debate.”

Oh, and at the bottom of the page is this announcement:

The author of this piece, Katharine Barney, is the daughter of Canon Stephen Barney.

Is that clear. Katharine Barney the author of the news article is the daughter of the subject of the news article, Stephen Barney.

Is it possible for a daughter to write a balanced news article about her father? Yes, it is possible. A good journalist can detach themselves and write a story that is fair to both sides.  Love or hate Dad, a good reporter can still do their job. Yet the appearance of impropriety remains.

In this case, the balance expected of a reporter — a normal one, e.g., not the child of the subject of the piece — is absent. The British blog Cranmer — one of the best written and more intelligent religion blogs out there — had this to say:

This debate will attract an awful lot of media attention: it touches on theology, equality, morality, the governance of the Church of England, and the right separation of powers. One might expect Channel 4 News to have done rather better than get the daughter of the motion’s proposer to write a superficial and thoroughly biased article on the matter.

Standing outside the issues, the Channel 4 story failed as journalism. It was unbalanced. While Dr. Giddings declined to speak to the issues, there were dozens of others in the Church of England — bishops, lay leaders, commentators — who could offer a contrary voice. The context for this story was insufficient. How did the Church of England get to this place? Has this happened before? How much does it cost and who is paying for it? What happens if Dr. Giddings is impeached, or if he survives censure?

Where these problems addressed in the article, then it could be argued that having the daughter of the subject of the story write the story was a bold move by Channel 4′s editors to show the professionalism of its reporter. This did not happen.

Opprobrium should not be heaped on the author of the story, however. We do not know what the original story she submitted looked like, and by her lights this may have been a balanced complete account. The fault lies with the editors at Channel 4. What were they thinking?

First printed in Get Religion.

Canterbury gun control plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Connecticut, Crime, The Episcopal Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined a chorus of American church leaders calling for stricter gun control laws in the United States following last month’s Connecticut school shooting.

In his final “Thought for the Day” broadcast as Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio 4, Dr. Williams acknowledged that by itself gun control will not end violence, but their strict regulation would curtail it.

“A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare,” Dr. Williams said, adding that “nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.”

The problem of “gang culture” was not unique to America, he noted, but “in the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.”

“And there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions.  ‘It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’  Well, yes, in a sense.  But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use – and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence or the threat of violence.  If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail.  If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target,” the archbishop said.

Last week the Bishop of Olympia, the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel joined the Bishop of Washington and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in calls for the government to review gun laws.

The Seattle-based bishop wrote that in the United States, “gun violence is a slow growing cancer which we have had the luxury, by and large, to ignore or at the very least show little attention to. Sadly, it has taken the loss of 20 of the youngest among us, the ones with the least power, to get our attention.”

“Up until that tragedy in Connecticut, we were starting to get used to school shootings. Will we get used to this too?” he asked.

Bishop Rickel joined Dr. Williams in rejecting the arguments put forward by the hunting and shooting community.  He stated the National Rifle Associations “solution is not surprising: arm more people. That solution grows out of a belief in the inevitability of a heavily armed society, which they have helped create. We are now the most armed nation in the world.”

The bishop said he was “not against the end of all guns. That, at this point, is probably unrealistic. But, I am very much for rational regulation of them.

Dr. Williams observed that “if it’s true that if all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.”

The “control of the weapons trade is a start,” he said, towards ending the violence.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper-

Top of the pops hopes for Norfolk bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 17, 2013

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St Nicholas Chapel, Kings Lynn

A bravura performance at last year’s Festival Too in King’s Lynn has led to a recording deal for the Bishop of Lynn, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Meyrick.

Bishop Meyrick, whose musical talents were showcased on ITV’s “Stars in Their Eyes”, where he dressed as Reg Presley and performed “Wild Thing”, will release a CD of rock and roll songs by the Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, Monkees and the Troggs to raise in aid of local charities.

The bishop told his local newspaper the CD had “come about because I sang at the Festival Too launch event.”

“After singing with the Yesterdays, the band suggested to me that I record a CD to raise money for charity and it’s gone from there really. I’ve now recorded what I need to and I’m just waiting for it to be tied together and for the launch date to be decided.”

Funds raised by the sale of the CD will be given to the Norfolk Hospice and to the Friends of St Nicholas Chapel.  The society and the Churches Conservation Trust are hoping to raise £210,000 towards restoration of the historic chapel in order to qualify for a Lottery grant.

The £1.5m project will replace the roof on the nave and south aisle and add insulation, toilets and lighting.

Peerage for Dr. Williams: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 1 January 17, 2013

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The Prime Minister’s Office has the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has been given a life peerage by the Queen. Upon his retirement from office, Dr. Williams will become Baron Williams of Oystermouth.

The 26 December 2012 announcement from No. 10 Downing Street stated Dr. Williams “will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.”

Under the Life Peerage Act of 1958 the Sovereign may appoint life peers who have the right to sit in the House of Lords. Life baronies under the Act are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, none are granted except upon the proposition of the prime minister, who may create up to 10 life baronies during each parliament in recognition for service to the country.

South Carolina dispute goes to court: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 17, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
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The Diocese of South Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church seeking a ban on the use of its name and seal by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies, and asking the civil courts to confirm that it had lawfully withdrawn from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The 4 Jan 2013 complaint filed in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes asks the civil court settle the legal and ecclesiological question of the locus of authority in the Episcopal Church.  Since taking office in 2006, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued authority in the church is vested in the General Convention and her office, rejecting the traditional view that authority resides in the dioceses with limited powers delegated to the national church.

The 65-page complaint addresses similar issues before the Texas Supreme Court which is reviewing the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth and lower courts in California and Illinois addressing the secession of the dioceses of San Joaquin and Quincy.

The pleading alleges three causes of action by the diocese against the national church. It alleges the national church has claimed the “right to ownership and possession” of $500 million of diocesan and congregational property; the national church has unlawfully used the diocese’s name and registered service marks; and that the national church “persons under its direction and control” had appropriated the diocesan seal.

Mr. Thomas Tisdale, Bishop Jefferts Schori’s attorney in South Carolina, declined to comment on the pleadings.  A spokesman for the presiding bishop told the Church of England Newspaper “the Episcopal Church has not received the legal papers in any such lawsuit in South Carolina and therefore cannot comment at this time.”

The pleading asks the court to step into the dispute between South Carolina and the national church following months of skirmishing that have included the 17 Oct 2012 suspension and subsequent dismissal of Bishop Mark Lawrence from the ministry by Bishop Jefferts Schori, the 15 Nov 2012 secession of the diocese, and the creation of a loyalist group in the diocese, acting under the authority of the presiding bishop, that has claimed the name, rights, property and interest of the diocese.

In a press statement reporting the news of the lawsuit, the diocese said it acted to prevent the national church from “hijacking” its name and assets.

“Like our colonial forefathers, we are pursuing the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, not as it is dictated to us by a self-proclaimed religious authority who threatens to take our property unless we relinquish our beliefs,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of South Carolina stated “many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation.  They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

“We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name … in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity.  The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

Bishop of Exeter to retire: The Church of England Newspaper, January 8, 2013 January 17, 2013

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The Rt. Rev. Michael Langrish

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt. Rev. Michael Langish, has announced he will retire from office on 29 June 2013.  In a 6 Jan 2013 letter to the diocese, Bishop Langrish said that during the “13 years that I have had the privilege of serving as Bishop of Exeter I have grown to love this county and its people deeply.”

“Although 2012 has been a challenging year, as have many others before it, I hope that I leave the Church of England in Devon in good heart. We have recently seen growth in the number of vocations to authorised ministry, positive indications in terms of the numbers of those who worship with us and cause for optimism in the financial contributions we receive. For all of these, I am enormously grateful for your support and the depth of your commitment to growing God’s Kingdom.”

Clifton Daniel elected Bishop of Pennsylvania: Anglican Ink, January 15, 2013 January 15, 2013

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Clifton Daniel, III

A special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has elected the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III to serve as provisional bishop of one of the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest dioceses.

On 12 Jan 2013 the diocese elected by unanimous acclamation Bishop Daniel, the resigned Bishop of East Carolina, to serve as bishop for two years, or until the election of a diocesan bishop.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bishop of Massachusetts issues call for the election of a co-adjutor: Anglican Ink, January 15, 2013 January 15, 2013

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The Rt. Rev M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

The Bishop of Massachusetts has written to his diocese announcing the call for the election of his successor. In a letter dated 15 Jan 2013 the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE stated that he was “turning 68 this year.  From my prayer and conversation with my community, friends and family, I have decided to call for the election of my successor, a bishop coadjutor.  The election will take place at a special convention proposed for April 5, 2014.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Global South urges Church of England to pull back on gay bishops: Anglican Ink, January 12, 2013 January 12, 2013

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The Rt. Rev. Robert Paterson

The Global South Coalition of Anglican Primates – representing a majority of members of the Anglican Communion – has urged the House of Bishops of the Church of England to rescind its decision to permit clergy in gay civil partnerships to be appointed to the Episcopate.

By allowing partnered gay clergy to become bishops, the Church of England was jeopardizing the lives of Anglicans in majority Muslim countries, who would become targets of rage from extremists who would not appreciate the distinction being drawn by the House of Bishops between sexually active gay bishops and bishops who had entered a legal relationship defined by sexual activity, but who would nonetheless refrain from sexual activity.

Signed by nine archbishops, the statement follows responses from the Archbishops of Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria last week decrying the initiative.

The explosion over gay civil partnerships appears to have been an “own goal” on the part of the House of Bishops of the Church of England.  The Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt. Rev. Robert Paterson – who had been charged with leading a committee investigating the question – has stated the matter was taken out of his committee’s hands by the House of Bishops executive committee.

The final statement released on 20 Dec 2012 was not in exact accordance with the recommendations of his committee.  He noted the bulk of the business of the meeting had been devoted to the women bishops question and the civil partnership issue was not given a thorough hearing.  What was adopted was a holding statement — non-answer driven by legal advice that would satisfy parties until the final decision was made later this year.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Women clergy under review for the ACNA: Anglican Ink, January 11, 2013 January 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Women Priests.
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More bishops, fewer dioceses and the future of women clergy were amongst the main topics of debate at the Anglican Church of North America’s College of Bishops meeting this week in Orlando.

Bishops from the conservative province in waiting in North America in the Anglican Communion approved the election of two additional bishops for the PEAR-USA Network. The Rev. Quigg Lawrence will lead the Atlantic Regional Network and the Rev. Ken Ross the Western Regional Network, while the Very Rev. Clark Lowenfield was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast – a diocese in formation.

The bishops also confirmed the election of the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters as bishop coadjutor of the Anglican Network in Canada and approved the translation of the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons from the Diocese of Bolivia to the Diocese of Pittsburgh as assistant bishop.

Time was also spent in mending fences amongst the College between the three former members of the Anglican Mission in America and the wider ACNA, following the protracted break up of the group.

A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College.  A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of Nigeria threatens to break with Canterbury over gay British bishops: Anglican Ink, January 10, 2013 January 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

The Church of Nigeria will break with the Church of England should it appoint clergy living in gay civil partnerships to the episcopate.

In a statement released under the signature of the Archbishop of All-Nigeria, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh at the close of the bishops’ annual retreat this week, the Anglican Communion’s largest church: “Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.”

The 20 Dec 2012 announcement by the House of Bishops and clarification issued on 4 Jan 2013 that the church had ended its moratorium on the appointment to the episcopate of clergy who had contracted civil partnerships but who had pledged to remain celibate has sparked sharp criticism from within Evangelical ranks within the Church of England and from the overseas church.  The claim that clergy who had entered a relationship that mimics marriage for same-sex were living a godly and moral life by refraining from consummating the relationship left some archbishops nonplussed.

The African church’s objections were not to the appointment of men to the episcopate who had a same-sex sexual orientation, but to clergy who had contracted a gay civil partnership being appointed to the episcopate. The proviso that such relationships were celibate only when they involved the clergy of the Church of England was preposterous, one African bishop told Anglican Ink.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Bishops ignite firestorm over gay bishop ban: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 7. January 10, 2013

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The House of Bishops has ended the moratorium that banned clergy in same-sex civil partnerships from being appointed as bishops. The announcement, buried in the seventh paragraph of a 20 Dec 2012 report, has sparked protests and praise from across the church and wider Anglican Communion – and handed the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Justin Welby with his first international crisis eight weeks before he takes office.

A spokesman for the Church of England told CEN the announcement and subsequent clarification of 4 January 2013 was not a reversal of policy, as no changes had been made to the church’s underlying teachings on human sexuality or its standards of moral conduct expected of clergy.  But “given the moratorium imposed by the House in 2011, It would however be true to say that the moratorium has been lifted” on clergy in civil partnerships being appointed as bishops, he said.

However, the distinction drawn by the House of Bishops has been overwhelmed by the reactions from left and right. Liberal pressure groups have hailed the announcement as a step forward for gay rights within the Church of England, with one commentator stating the announcement paves the way for Dr. Jeffrey John to be appointed Bishop of Durham.

Conservatives are aghast by what they see as a unilateral reversal by the bishops of church policy, while the leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr. Eliud Wabukala the Archbishop of Kenya, warned that the policy served to institutionalize hypocrisy in the Church of England.  The appointment of a partnered gay bishop, he warned, would devastate an already crippled Anglican Communion.

In 2011 the House of Bishops formed a working group led by the Bishop of Sodor and Man  to the review of the 2005 pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships.

At its 2011 launch, the Bishop of Norwich said this committee’s work “will include examination of whether priests in civil partnerships should be eligible for appointment as bishops. The 2005 statement was silent on this issue.”

While the committee was studying the issue the “House has concluded that clergy in civil partnerships should not, at present, be nominated for episcopal appointment.  The review will be completed in 2012.”

The bishops also formed a second committee chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling to revisit the church’s pronouncements on human sexuality. In their December announcement, the bishops said they head presentations from Sir Joseph’s committee — but were silent as to the progress of the Sodor and Man committee.

The bishops stated that “pending the conclusion of]the Sir Joseph Pilling] group’s work next year the House does not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships. It confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.”

On 22 Dec the gay pressure group Changing Attitude published an article on its website drawing attention to the announcement, and on 2 Jan Dr. Andrew Goddard, writing on the website of the Anglican Communion Institute, published an appreciation of the bishops’ statement and concluded their “decision is, therefore, a reversal not a confirmation of the existing policy” on civil partnerships.

Stories in the church and secular press soon followed leading to a statement of clarification issued by Bishop Graham James on behalf of the House of Bishops released late on 4 Jan.  Bishop James stated the bishops had heard reports from both committees and had lifted the moratorium as the Sodor and Man working party on Civil Partnerships had issued its report.

“The House believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. All candidates for the episcopate undergo a searching examination of personal and family circumstances, given the level of public scrutiny associated with being a bishop in the Church of England. But these, along with the candidate’s suitability for any particular role for which he is being considered, are for those responsible for the selection process to consider in each case,” Bishop James said.

A spokesman for the Church of England explained the decision to end the moratorium was not a reversal of policy, but an extension of the policy adopted in 2005 for the ordination of deacons and priests to now include episcopal appointments.

The Bishop of Carlisle said the bishops’ decision was a matter of justice. “The situation now is no different to the situation in 2005 which referred to clergy. What we’re saying for Bishops is exactly what we said for clergy.”

“It would seem wrong to set a different bar for Bishops than clergy,” said Bishop James Newcome on 5 Jan.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement welcomed the announcement, but offered a different interpretation from the bishops. The LGCM’s chief executive the Rev Sharon Ferguson said the church’s “discrimination” against gay and lesbian clergy had “undermined the church’s credibility in sharing the good news of God’s love for all. Removing the ban on bishops in civil partnerships is a positive measure but we must now see it come to fruition.”

Guardian columnist, the Rev Giles Fraser also hailed the news of the announcement, telling The Sunday Times that in light of the relaxation of the ban, “Jeffery John would be the perfect person to be Bishop of Durham because he has all the right skills.’

However Dr. Philip Giddings and Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream argued a “decision to move from the current position would be a grave departure from the Church’s doctrine and discipline it should be made by Bishops in Synod not by Bishops alone.”

“A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church,” they said, adding that “such an appointment would be a very divisive move both within the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.”

Part of the problem was the “ambiguous nature of civil partnerships,” they argued. “Most people assume that civil partnerships are sexual relationships. It is casuistical to claim that they are not.”

The Ven. Michael Lawson, chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council stated the current system was not working.  “Some bishops are known to be lax about questioning civil-partnership clergy about their sex lives,” he said, noting the “church has a poor record already” in upholding the “requirement of celibacy and traditional teaching.”

“At the very least” the announcement will “spread confusion and at worst will be taken as an effort to conform to the spirit of the age,” he said.

The Archbishop of Kenya, Dr. Eliud Wabukala concurred, saying the announcement “will create further confusion about Anglican moral teaching and make restoring unity to the Communion an even greater challenge.”

The “proviso” that clergy in civil partnerships remain celibate is “clearly unworkable. It is common knowledge that active homosexuality on the part of Church of England clergy is invariably overlooked and in such circumstances it is very difficult to imagine anyone being brought to book,” the archbishop said on 6 Jan.

However, “the heart of the matter is not enforceability, but that bishops have a particular responsibility to be examples of godly living,” he argued.   “It cannot be right that they are able to enter into legally recognised relationships which institutionalise and condone behaviour that is completely contrary to the clear and historic teaching of Scripture” and the teaching of the church.

“The weight of this moral teaching cannot be supported by a flimsy proviso,” Archbishop Wabukala said.

However, commentator the Rev. Peter Ould has argued that liberals and conservatives have been too quick in responding to the announcement.

The “problem” with civil partnerships and the clergy has not been “clergy not being truthful, it’s bishops who haven’t asked them to be truthful,” he said. Evangelicals would be better served by concentrating “on those responsible for enforcing discipline and Biblical pastoral care rather than those caught in the cross-fire over this issue,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Tentative settlement reached in the Fort Worth 7 and Quincy 3 cases: Anglican Ink, January 9, 2013 January 10, 2013

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A tentative settlement has been reached in the “Fort Worth 7”  and “Quincy 3” cases, sources close to the proceedings report.  Details of the agreement will not been released until all parties endorse the agreement, the sources report, but the disposition of the dispute is being characterized as “amicable” AI has learned.

If the agreement is ratified, the settlement will conclude the largest mass disciplinary proceeding launched against bishops of the Episcopal Church.

In emails dated 2 and 19 Oct 2012, the Intake Officer for the House of Bishops and aide to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews informed nine bishops they had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Bishop  Jefferts Schori.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Evangelical backlash follows England’s decision to allow “gay” bishops: Anglican Ink, January 7, 2012 January 8, 2013

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Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda

Conservative Evangelical leaders have charged the Church of England’s House of Bishops with hypocrisy, denouncing the 20 Dec 2012 announcement that gay clergy in civil partnerships, who remain celibate, may be appointed as bishops.

“A bishop known to be in a civil partnership could hardly be a focus of unity nor be a bishop for the whole church,” the leaders of Anglican Mainstream said over the weekend, while the Archbishops of Uganda and Kenya have warned that appointment of a partnered gay bishop would be a grievous blow to the wider Anglican Communion.

“Our grief and sense of betrayal are beyond words,” Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda said on 7 January 2013.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 62: January 6, 2013 January 7, 2013

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Just when you thought it was safe to watch online Videos again… In this week’s Episode Kevin and George give some behind the scenes information regarding the next Gafcon. They also talk about invisible Christian Persecution this Christmas season and the Anglican World before and after the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson. Peter Ould discusses the recent Church of England news about Bishops in Civil Partnerships and Allan Haley tackles the real effect of the latest news from the Diocese of South Carolina. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet #AU62

South Carolina fires first salvo in legal battle with TEC: Anglican Ink, January 5, 2013 January 5, 2013

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Bishop Mark Lawrence

A South Carolina court has been asked “Who and what are Episcopalians and how is that church organized?” after the Diocese of South Carolina filed a lawsuit yesterday against the national Episcopal Church.  The 65-page complaint asks the court to issue an injunction banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies in South Carolina from using the name or presuming to act on behalf of the diocese and further asks the court to affirm the legality of the diocese’s secession from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Filed on 4 January 2013 in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes, the complaint asks the civil courts to adjudicate the same general questions currently before the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case. South Carolina has asked the court to legal scrutiny Bishop Jefferts Schori’s claim the Episcopal Church of the United States of America is a hierarchical body with final authority vested in the national church.

Yesterday’s action follows a generation of sparing between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church over issues of doctrine and discipline.  However, the legal and ecclesiological issues of diocesan autonomy and national authority arose in 2006 after Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop. Unlike her predecessor Frank Griswold who told the Diocese of Louisiana that ultimate authority rested in the diocese, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued that ultimate authority resides in the General Convention and in her office.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

2012 – The Anglican Year in Review: The Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013 pp 6-7. January 4, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Church of England Newspaper.
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After a decade of being overshadowed by the unfolding events in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, the Church of England returned to the center of the Anglican news world. While the communion’s 38 provinces dealt with issues of local importance, the issues underlying Archbishop Rowan Williams’ resignation, the coalition government’s push for same-sex marriage, the General Synod vote on women bishops, the collapse of the Anglican Covenant, and the Chichester abuse report were played out across the Anglican Communion in 2012.

As important as these issues appeared as they were debated and discussed, the underlying questions about the nature of the Church and the nature of mankind, sounded by Dr. Rowan Williams, Pope Benedict XVI and leaders of the church in the developing word and within the Church of England, drove debate within the church in 2012.

However a few hardy Anglican perennials surfaced last year also. Episcopal corruption remained a significant concern for the Church of South India (CSI) and the Church of North India (CNI). Lay activists tell The Church of England Newspaper that only “8 or 9” of the CSI’s 21 current bishops were untainted by corruption charges.

The Bishop in Coimbatore was finally sacked for theft, two bishops were suspended for corruption, and a third fighting government charges of tax fraud died of cancer.  Government auditors also released a report that found the Church of South India Trust Association, the not-for-profit company that holds title to the church’s properties, was not in conformance with India’s charitable laws, and ordered the church to implement immediate reforms, or risk liquidation of the trust.

However, steps to address problem were begun by the church’s new moderator, Bishop Gnanasigamony Devakadasham, who appointed a new church legal adviser to clean house.

The CNI was also plagued by corruption scandals. The former Bishop of Pune was jailed and several other serving and retired Church of North India bishops accused of complicity in a scheme to sell churches to property developers and pocket the cash.

Episcopal corruption also dominated the proceedings of the House of Bishops of the Provinces of South East Asia and Southern Africa. The Bishop of Sabah was accused of financial misconduct.  While the results of the provincial audit have not been released calls for a criminal investigation have been made by diocesan leaders.

At the close of their February 2012 meeting, the Southern African bishops released a statement at saying they were placing the Diocese of Umzimvubu “under the care of a provincial administrative team.” Elected in 2003, Bishop Mlibo Ngewu   had been charged by his clergy with simony, nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, sexual harassment and bullying.  In August 2011 two-thirds of the diocesan clergy had written to the Archbishop of Cape Town requesting his intervention.

At their Fall Meeting, however, the bishops received a report on Bishop Johannes Seoka of Pretoria.  A provincial investigative commission had examined allegations of theft and bullying leveled against the bishop – who also chairs the South African Council of Churches – and found there was no truth in the allegations.

The long running dispute in Zimbabwe came to an end last year. The country’s Supreme Court dismissed the claims to ownership of the properties of the dioceses of Harare and Manicaland made by Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and his supporters. And, unlike past rulings, the security services did not defy the courts and allowed constables to evict Dr. Kunonga and his men – apparently ending the collusion between the secret police and the ex-bishop that had kept the country’s Anglicans in internal exile for almost five years.

Local political issues played a large role in the life of the churches of the Anglican Communion.  Labour unrest and political turmoil engaged the South African church, with Bishop Seoka and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba taking a high public profile in the wake of a police shooting of striking miners.

The bishops of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church of Japan) pressed their government to shut down the country’s nuclear power plants. In a statement dated 23 May 2012 the said Japan’s experiences in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant meltdown had shown the risks outweighed the benefits of nuclear power.  “It is not too much to say this is a warning from God to each of us who, having suffered from nuclear bombings, have failed to acquire sufficient knowledge about nuclear power and exposure to radiation.”

South India’s bishops divided over the question of nuclear power. Bishops from the far south of the country joined public protests and called for a halt to the construction of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. However the full house declined to endorse their concerns over the safety of the Russian-designed reactor, saying nuclear power was essential for India’s economic development.

The gradual dismantling of Burma’s police state was a cause for rejoicing for the Anglican Church of Myanmar, though the persecution of Christian tribal groups and their forced conversion to Buddhism at the hands of the military was a cause of continued concern. Militant Buddhism and the aftermaths of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-Sinhalese civil war also dominated the life of the Church of Ceylon.

Persecution of Christians remained the focus of the Church in Pakistan, the Church of Nigeria and Episcopal Church of the Sudan. Depredations by Islamist extremists against the minority Christian population, church burnings, and high profile blasphemy cases – including one against a pre-teen mentally disabled girl – were of paramount interest to the Church of Pakistan. The Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, continued its depredations against the Christians of Northern Nigeria and worked towards breaking up the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Religious tensions, coupled with a push by Islamists for the creation of an independent Muslim state for Zanzibar, were key concerns also for the church in Tanzania, whilst similar tribal and religious disputes dominated the life of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The government of the Sudan continued its war of extermination against the predominantly Christian tribesmen of the Nuba Mountains and fought a race and religion based border war with the newly independent South Sudan.

Civil war in the Eastern Congo, crime in the West Indies and Mexico, and political uncertainty in Burundi, the Solomon Island, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Ghana and Malawi were issues of key concern for the Anglican churches in the developing world as was the continued global economic slowdown. The Arab Spring, with its hopes of political liberalization and renewal, turned into a bleak Islamist winter for the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.  Civil wars and sectarian violence in Libya, Syria, Iraq and the Yemen, coupled with the political and social turmoil surrounding the election of Mohammad Mursi as president of Egypt brought fears of renewed persecution and prompted the emigration of more Christians from the Middle East.

The Anglican Communion’s internal civil wars were also played out across the globe.  The Bishops of the Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur (de América) declined to ratify the election of a Canadian priest as bishop of Uruguay. This rebuff coupled with a 2011 vote by the South American synod not authorize women priests led the diocese to petition the province and the Anglican Consultative Council to allow it to withdraw from the Southern Cone and join the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. The ACC and the province declined to honour Uruguay’s request.

The fate of earthquake damaged Christchurch Cathedral as well as the financial aftershocks of the 2011 earthquake were of strong local interest in New Zealand, while the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s vote on the Anglican Covenant helped close the door on Dr. Rowan Williams major political initiative for the Anglican Communion.

Culture wars dominated the internal life of the Anglican Church of Australia along with clergy disciplinary cases that spilled over into the civil court system.  A Royal Commission on Abuse in church and state institutions, gay marriage, and a just asylum policy for immigrants were among the political issues that spilled over in the life of the church.

The Australian House of Bishops also reiterated its traditional rules against the calling and deployment of non-celibate gay clergy – and just as quickly some bishops broke ranks over the issue.

The issue of gay clergy sharply divided the Church of Ireland in 2012 prompting its bishops to deny speculation the church might divide between a liberal south and conservative north. In Canada, the question of gay clergy and rites for the blessing of same-sex unions proceeded at the diocesan.  By year’s end of Canada’s 25 dioceses, Quebec, Rupert’s Land, Edmonton, British Columbia, New Westminster, Edmonton, Niagara, Huron, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had authorized gay blessings.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church introduced same-sex blessings at the start of Advent through a canonical sleight of hand. While gay marriage would require the revision of the Book of Common Prayer and trial rites for same-sex marriage or blessings would have required a supermajority of bishops – the church created a new, non-canonical category, called provisional temporary liturgical rites that allowed it to adopt gay rites by a simple majority vote.

However, the Episcopal Church permitted conservative dioceses to ban gay rites, creating a situation where in some dioceses gay marriages are seen as blessed whilst in others they are sinful.

The fall out over gay rites along with disputes over the nature and person of Jesus Christ (is he a way or the way to the Father) saw one of the original dioceses of the Episcopal Church withdraw from the General Convention.

In November South Carolina quit the Episcopal Church after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori deposed Bishop Mark Lawrence without trial for abandoning the communion of the church – a charge the South Carolina bishop denied.

These questions, however, mirrored the theological and political debates within the Church of England. While the arguments may have centered round government economic policy, gay marriage, the departure of Dr. Williams and women bishops – while General Synod said “no” South Africa and Swaziland elected Africa’s first two women bishops – the deeper issues the church grappled with were over human nature.

And it was a non-Anglicans who best summarized the ontological issues facing the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion at the close of 2012.

In his Christmas message to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human.”

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, the pope wrote, had “shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper.”

“While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question.”

There was a new belief that held that “man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.”

“When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself.”

Benedict concluded, “and it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man…”

Papal meeting for Anglican conservatives: The Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013 p 3. January 4, 2013

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Archbishop Robert Duncan (centre) and Bishop Ray Sutton (right) of the ACNA at the 28 Nov 2012 General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI

The leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, held a private meeting last month at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI.

On 28 Nov 2012, Archbishop Wabukala, Archbishop Robert Duncan and Bishop Ray Sutton of the Anglican Church in North America, along with a retired bishop from the Church of England met with Benedict and officials from the curia in private after the Wednesday General Audience.

Details of the conversation have not been released however, Benedict has long held an interest in the internal workings of the Anglican Communion.  In October 2003, as President of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter of encouragement on behalf of Pope John Paul II to those attending the “Plano Conference” of conservative Episcopalians in Dallas, Texas, who had gathered to voice their opposition to the impending consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Pope Benedict has also focused much of his energies on Africa. A recent issue of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica stated the pope has referred to Africa as to the “lung” of the Catholic Church and the church in Africa was “currently the most dynamic continent from the point of view of the expansion of the Church and of Christianity in general, and where vocations are the most numerous in terms of percentage.”

Travel delays prevented Archbishop Wabukala from attending the General Audience with Archbishop Duncan and Bishop Sutton, though the archbishop and other leaders of the global reform movement within the Anglican Communion were present at the afternoon’s private session.

Retired Suffolk vicar jailed 22 months for child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013, p 2. January 4, 2013

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A retired Suffolk clergyman was sentenced to one year and 10 months imprisonment this week by the Norwich Crown Court for child abuse.

At the sentencing hearing on 17 December Judge Mark Lucraft told the Rev. John Haley Dossor (71): “You sexually abused these teenage boys who were committed to your care for recreation and education. As a clergyman you were in a position where people looked up to you and respected you. Parents trusted you with the care of their children.”

In addition to a term of imprisonment, the judge ordered Mr. Dossor placed on the sex offenders’ register and issued a sexual offences prevention order to last for five years. On 16 Oct 2012, Mr. Dossor pled guilty before the Ipswich Crown Court of having abused six boys between 1990 and 1994 while serving at St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh. In 2001 Mr. Dossor became vicar of St Mary-at-the-Elms, Ipswich, retiring in 2007. In 2009 he resigned his orders after the abuse allegations came to light.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt. Rev. Nigel Stock, responded to the guilty plea by saying: “Clergy hold a position of trust and whenever such trust is broken it is widely felt, most of all by those who have been directly affected.”

“Whilst these events took place a long time ago, it is only right that the Church should acknowledge the broken trust and offer sincere and deep apologies.”

Gavin Stone, assistant diocesan secretary for the diocese, said after the sentence was handed down that bishop Stock “continues to offer unreserved regret and apologies to all those whose lives have been damaged by this individual, fully acknowledging the impact that broken trust by someone in a position of responsibility can have on the lives of all those involved.”

Chichester priest committed for trial on abuse charges: The Church of England Newspaper, December 29, 2012 January 4, 2013

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A retired Sussex clergyman appeared before the Chichester Crown Court last week and has been committed for trial for allegedly sexually abusing a teenage boy.

The Rev. Robert Coles (71) pled not guilty to sexually abusing a boy between 1982 and 1984, when the child was 15 to 16 years of age.  Mr. Coles was arrested in March and charged in August with several counts of sexual abuse committed between the 1970s and 1990s.  The Crown Prosecution Service said it will decide next month whether to bring further charges of indecent assault against the defendants.  Trial has been set for 10 June 2013.

On 17 Dec 2012, the Diocese of Chichester released a statement confirming Mr. Coles, “a priest formerly licensed in the diocese, has been committed for trial to face charges relating to allegations of sexual abuse in the 70s and 80s.”

“Today’s hearing is the latest development in a 16 month police investigation in which the Diocese of Chichester has been cooperating with Sussex Police. A diocesan spokesperson said: “Our prayers are for anyone affected by today’s hearing. We are unable to comment further at this stage whilst we allow the judicial system to take its course.”

“Our cooperation with Sussex police in this investigation is in line with our ongoing commitment to do all that is necessary to bring any allegations of abuse to the attention of the public authorities, and to ensure that the Diocese of Chichester is a safe place for all,” the diocesan statement said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Chichester parish art auctioned for £1 million January 3, 2013

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Four scenes from the Passion of Christ, Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, circa 1390

A set of four 14th century Italian paintings belonging to a Chichester parish have been sold at auction at Sotheby’s for £1,105,250. On 5 Dec 2012 four tempera paintings on linen depicting scenes from the passion narrative were sold by St Michael and All Angels, Withyham, East Sussex after a faculty to sell the art was given by the Diocese of Chichester.

Believed to be part of a 14th century narrative cycle, the Sotheby’s catalog states the paintings are datable on stylistic grounds to circa 1390 and are “generally attributed” to Niccolò di Pietro Gerini. They depict Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples, The Betrayal of Christ (or The Kiss of Judas), The Mocking of Christ and The Flagellation.

In 1849 Edward John Ottley presented the set to the parish. Brought from Italy in 1791 by his uncle William Young Ottley, R.A, (1771-1836) the paintings had hung the church until 1990, when they were taken to the Courtauld Institute for cleaning.  After the paintings were identified, they were deemed too valuable to be hung in an unprotected church and were transferred on loan to Leeds Castle in 1997.

Permission to sell the paintings was granted by the Chancellor of Chichester Diocese, Mark Hill QC, who held they had no integral part in the history of Withyham Church or its devotional life; that they had been absent from the church for over 20 years and were unlikely ever to return; and that their potential value could yield much needed income for the church which the donor, Edward John Ottley, intended to benefit by his gift.

The Rev. Adrian Leak, Priest in Charge of Withyham noted the donor, “Edward John Ottley will rejoice that once again Withyham Church will benefit from his gift.”

Proceeds from the sale will be placed in trust for the parish to maintain the church and churchyard. Full-sized replicas of the paintings have been hung in the place where the originals were displayed for over 150 years.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Harare Cathedral reconsecrated: The Church of England Newspaper, December 26, 2012 January 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Bishop Chad Gandiya and the Diocese of Harare offering his heartfelt congratulations upon their return to their churches after five years of exile.

“You have faced threats of violence and arrest and yet your faith has not weakened, rather it has grown stronger,” Dr. Williams wrote on 17 Dec 2012, adding that “through all this your faith has been a beacon of light to the rest of the Anglican Communion. Your numbers have grown along with your resilience to live in the light of Christ, no matter the consequences.”

“Today you have been rewarded for your struggle. Today we thank God for his unending mercy and justice. Today I join you in joyously praising God as you finally return to your churches,” Dr. Williams said.

Last month the Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled the properties of the dioceses of Harare and Manicaland belonged to the Church of the Province of Central Africa and not to the former Bishops of Harare and Manicaland, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi. Constables have ejected Dr. Kunonga and his allies from church properties in Harare, allowing congregations to return to their churches.

Dr. Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi have filed motions for re-hearings of their appeals, but the Supreme Court has denied the applications, holding the decisions are final. At a 19 Dec press conference, Dr. Kunonga said he would honour the court ruling.

A spokesman for Dr. Kunonga denied his churchhas been disbanded after the court ruling,” saying “after the ruling we had to move out of the churches and we are grateful to other churches and schools who have come to our side. All our services are going on without interference.”

On 16 Dec, Bishop Gandiya accompanied by Archbishop Albert Chama of Central Africa and the Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt. Rev. Brian Castle, led a service of rededication and cleansing of St Mary’s and All Saints Cathedral in Harare.  Diocese of Harare secretary Clifford Dzawo told Zimbabwe newspapers similar ceremonies would be held in each of the diocese’s churches.

“We are going into all churches for cleansing as the churches had been turned into brothels when we were in exile,” Mr. Dzawo said. “Some places had been turned into crèches,” businesses and other commercial operations and “were abused.”  But the cathedral “is now being used for the proper purpose it serves.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Camp Bible released in time for Christmas: The Church of England Newspaper, December 24, 2012 January 2, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Biblical Interpretation, California, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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A “gay-friendly” version of the Authorized Version or King James Version of the Scriptures has been released anonymously in the United States. The “Queen James Bible” re-writes passages of the Old and New Testament to omit phrases that gay activists find offensive.

However, the anonymous publication may be a spoof.  News of the new Bible was released via a PR firmPinkNews, a gay activist news site, states the editor of the QJB is the Rev. J. Pearson of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

However, the book has not been registered with the Library of Congress in Washington, the website’s ownership has been hidden from review and does not name any of the editors – and no “J Pearson” exists on the rolls of the Episcopal Church serving in the Diocese of California.

An internet publication, Digital Journal, citing an anti-gay activist website, quoted the Rev. J. Pearson in its report on the book saying he, or she, believed: “Homosexuality was first overtly mentioned in the Bible in 1946 in the Revised Standard Version. There is no mention of or reference to homosexuality in any Bible prior to this – only interpretations have been made.”

The Queen James Bible made eight changes to the text of the KJV, which is in the public domain and may be freely adapted unlike modern translations. Among the changes were Leviticus 18:22:

KJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.

QJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination. (Page 75)

Romans 1:27

KJV: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

QJV: Men with men working that which is pagan and unseemly. For this cause God gave the idolators up unto vile affections, receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Page 545)

1 Timothy 1:10

KJV: For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.

QJV: For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (Page 575)

The Queen James Bible website states the new version “seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality: We edited those eight verses in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”

It added the name Queen James was appropriate because James I was “a well-known bisexual. Though he did marry a woman, his many gay relationships were so well-known that amongst some of his friends and court, he was known as “Queen James.” It is in his great debt and honor that we name The Queen James Bible so.”

In addition to its lack of provenance, uncertain linkage to a phantom Episcopal clergyman in San Francisco and its anonymous website, the camp language of the advertisement suggests the Queen James Bible may be a hoax.

“The QJB is a big, fabulous Bible,” the website states adding: “You can’t choose your sexuality, but you can choose Jesus. Now you can choose a Bible, too.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gay church wedding ban for Wales a “step too far”: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 6. December 28, 2012

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The Archbishop of Wales has denounced the government’s plans to impose a “quadruple legal lock” that would exempt the Church in Wales from performing gay marriages, saying Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s promise was a “step too far.”

However, Dr. Barry Morgan’s protestations the Church in Wales was being treated in the same way as the Church of England over same-sex marriage appears to place him at odds with the formal position of his church.

On 12 Dec, the government announced its gay marriage legislation would explicitly state that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples and that canon law, which bans same-sex weddings, will continue to apply. Like the Church of England, the Church in Wales has a legal obligation to marry couples where there is a link to the parish.

Dr Morgan responded that “excluding the Church in Wales and the Church of England from the legislation so that it will be illegal for them to have gay marriage. I think that is a step too far.”

“It does not leave it to the governing bodies of the two churches to decide whether they want to opt in or out as other churches are allowed to do. It curtails our freedom of choice and seems to close the door on even the possibility of doing so in the future without a change in law.

“It makes these churches seem exclusive and I think that is unfortunate,” Dr. Morgan said.

However, in its March 2012 response to the government’s consultation on marriage, the Welsh bishops said: “The Church in Wales is in an almost identical position to the Church of England with regard to the solemnisation of marriages.   The Church in Wales’ concerns about the legal implications are therefore the same as those of the Church of England.  We have taken note of these, and would seek assurances that the Government would specifically include the Church in Wales in any provisions for the Church of England under the proposed legislation.”

The bishops stated they did not see the need for the legislation. “It is not at all clear in what ways same-sex marriage will be different in substance from existing arrangements for civil partnerships.  They already appear to be in all respects the same, in the rights and responsibilities conferred on the parties; and with only very minor distinctions in the methods of registration, or the reasons for dissolving the relationship.  Nor is it clear what will be the purpose of retaining the category of civil partnership alongside same-sex marriage, especially since it is not proposed that heterosexual couples be allowed to enter into a civil partnership.  In the context of equality of access to registered relationships, this appears to create a new inequality.”

“Recognising and supporting” same-sex civil unions “are to be welcomed” the bishops said, but as “such provision already exists” they saw no need for gay marriage. “Beyond raising the dangers of significant confusion and debate, the current proposals do not add to these provisions,” the March statement said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

First round win for Islamists in Egyptian constitutional referendum: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 6. December 28, 2012

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The Muslim Brotherhood has claimed victory in the first round of voting to introduce a Sharia Law-based constitution for Egypt.  Unofficial returns after Saturday’s vote released by President Mohammed Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) show 56.6 per cent of ballots cast were in favour of the new constitution, while 43.5 per cent were opposed.

However, the Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections said in a statement after the polls closed on Saturday there were “cases of voter intimidation, delaying the voting process, and early closure of some voting centers with no clear reasons,” while the Egyptian Independent newspaper reported that in some polling places Coptic Christians were not allowed to vote.

In a pastoral letter released on the eve of the vote, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis warned the political battle between Islamists and moderates may push Egypt into civil war.

“I cannot tell you how much I am heavy-hearted because of what is going on in my beloved country Egypt,” Dr. Anis said, as “many Egyptians were expecting that after the 25 January Revolution in 2011 there would be no exclusion for any citizen or groups because of their political or religious stance. Sadly, we are still groaning for this equality.”

The new constitution posed significant problems for Christians, women and moderate Muslims, the bishop said as the constitution would empower religious vigilante groups to impose their views on society. “We have already seen some groups such as ‘The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’ who, in the name of Islam, punish others without resorting to the legal authorities,” the bishop wrote, noting the language of the new constitution would give their actions the force of law.

“Another example would be how Article 2 mentions that ‘the principles of the Islamic sharia is the source of all legislation’ while Article 219 defines ‘the principle of the Islamic sharia’ in a vague way which can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the different Islamic sects,” the bishop wrote.

This breakdown of public trust in the government over the constitutional reform process had led to street fighting between the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-democracy activists.  “The two demonstrating groups became violent and more than 450 people were injured and 8 people were killed. The demonstrations continue now and the fear is that another wave of violence and bloodshed may happen tomorrow.”

The bishop said that those who opposed the new constitution believed it should be a document that fosters national unity, not the sectarian interests of one political-religious party.  The document was “dividing the society into Islamists and non-Islamists (moderate Muslims and Christians),” the bishop warned.

Ten provinces, including Cairo and Alexandria voted on 15 December and 17 rural provinces are scheduled to vote on 22 December. “It is heart-breaking to see Egyptians against Egyptians,” Dr. Anis said. “We don’t want to see Egypt in a civil war.”

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Dr. Williams appointed chairman of Christian Aid: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2012 December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, NGOs.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is to become the next chairman of the board of trustees of the international relief agency Christian Aid.

On 12 Dec 2012, Christian Aid director Loretta Minghella announced Dr. Williams would take up the post next May in succession to Dame Anne Owers whose term of office ended last month.

In a statement released by the Lambeth Palace press office, Dr. Williams said he was “very honoured” by the invitation to chair Christian Aid. “I had hoped very much to be able to continue some regular involvement in support and advocacy in the area of international justice and development” following his retirement as archbishop in December, “this will allow such an involvement to flourish,” he said.

“Many years of co-operation with and support for Christian Aid have made me familiar with the excellent quality of all that they do, and I am personally very happy indeed to be working with them in this new role at a time when international development issues will need the most dedicated and sustained attention,” Dr. Williams said.

Ms. Minghella said the agency greeted the news of Dr. Williams’ appointment with joy.“Archbishop Rowan brings a passionate interest in tackling the symptoms and causes of poverty, a profound theological understanding, and deep experience of addressing issues of environmental, economic and social justice with church and political leaders across the world.”

“This is wonderful news for Christian Aid,” she said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Connecticut school shooting leaves America in mourning: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 7. December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Connecticut, Crime, The Episcopal Church.
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Church leaders in the United States have responded with horror to last week’s Connecticut school shooting, calling upon Anglicans to turn towards God in prayer in response to the murder of 26 people – including 20 school children.

On 14 Dec 2012, Adam Lanza (20), shot and killed his mother at their home and then proceeded to her workplace, the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Police have yet to release a timeline of events, but armed with a variety of pistols taken from his mother’s home, Lanza entered the school killing six teachers and administrators and the members of his mother’s class – 20 children ranging in age from 5 to 7 years of age.

Lanza then took his own life before police arrived on the scene.  The motive for the killings is unknown as are details of the killer’s life – though acquaintances described the young man as troubled.

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America urged his flock to pray for the victims and their families. “Please join us in praying for the victims of and families affected by Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. “Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations,” he wrote.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote the Episcopal Church grieved with those who had died and mourned the loss “of lives so young and innocent.  We grieve that the means of death are so readily available to people who lack the present capacity to find other ways of responding to their own anger and grief.  We know that God’s heart is broken over this tragedy, and the tragedies that unfold each and every day across this nation.  And we pray that this latest concentration of shooting deaths in one event will awaken us to the unnoticed number of children and young people who die senselessly across this land every day.”

Speaking at a memorial service in Newtown High School on 16 December, President Barack Obama said he was “very mindful that words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, but whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. … Newtown, you are not alone.”

“These tragedies must end, and to end them we must change,” the president said, saying he would call upon law enforcement and mental health experts to “prevent another tragedy like this.”

The shooting has prompted a national debate over the causes of “rampage” killings, with some blaming a changing culture, others loose gun control laws, while others have questioned state programs of closing state mental hospitals in favor of community care.

In statement released after the shootings on Friday, the Bishop of Washington Mariann Budde announced that she was “calling on our national leaders to enact more effective gun control measures. We know from experience that such calls go unheeded. But what if this time, you and I took up this issue and wouldn’t put it down until something was done? . . . Today we grieve, but soon we act.”

However, conservative columnist Mona Charen argued the problem also lay in failed health policies as “misplaced civil libertarianism and romanticization of mental illness led to deinstitutionalization” of the mentally ill so that “now, 95 percent of the inpatient beds we had in 1955 are gone.”

There were a “a small subset of mentally ill people who are dangerous. They are responsible for an estimated 50 percent of rampage killings. In the name of personal autonomy, we have made it almost impossible to force them to get treatment. The horrifying consequences are all around us,” she said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gun-toting bishop fails to block return of Harare’s churches: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 7. December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
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After five years of exile, Anglicans in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland have been allowed to return home.  While isolated incidents of violence and harassment have been reported Diocese of Harare spokesman Ms. Precious Shumba reports that most churches have been peacefully returned to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA).

On 3 Dec 2012 the government-backed Harare Herald quoted Ms. Shumba as saying: “This weekend we have not witnessed any cases of violence and church services were conducted peacefully. The evictions are also going on peacefully with people moving out without any resistance.”

After breaking with the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga was given trusteeship of the properties of the Diocese of Harare, while his ally, the former Bishop of Manicaland, Elson Jakazi, gained controlled of that diocese’s lands.

In 2009 High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo handed down an order giving Dr. Kunonga trusteeship of the properties pending adjudication by the Supreme Court. Last month a three judge panel dismissed all of Bishop Kunonga’s and Bishop Jakazi’s claims and ordered the properties be turned over immediately to the CPCA.

Most of the 72 Harare parishes were turned over to the CPCA without incident, as few were being used as active churches.  Many had been rented by Dr. Kunonga to schools and businesses, and one church rectory was reported being used as a brothel.

However, the Daily News reported Dr. Kunonga was not going without a fight. When its reporters visited the Cathedral Church of St Mary and All Saints in central Harare on 29 Nov, they reported that threatened them. The bishop was “sweating profusely” it reported and had a gun holstered at his hip. He warned the reporters: “You think I am playing with you, I can shoot you.”

The Daily News also witnessed a scuffle between Dr. Kunonga and a constable, who blocked the former bishop from leaving the cathedral until he turned over the keys to the diocesan car.

On 30 Nov the diocese reported the Rev. Naboth Manzongo “sustained a deep cut on the forehead after being hit by a brick” by the Rev. Tendai Mukariri, a “Kunonga priest.”

Fr. Mukariri “and his thugs were engaged in massive physical violence against the [Harare} Deputy Sheriff and his team” at the cathedral, the diocese reported.  Six Kunonga supporters were arrested and Fr. Manzongo was taken to the hospital.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Chalice sold to the British Museum for £1.3m: Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 7. December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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A Wiltshire church has been given permission to sell a medieval silver cup to the British Museum by the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bristol.

On 4 Dec 2012 the diocesan consistory court met at St Cyriac’s Church, Lacock to adjudicate a dispute over the sale of the “Lacock Cup”.  The silver 15th century cup was given to the parish in the mid-Seventeenth century by Sir Robert Baynard, of Lackham Manor.  Since 1963 the cup has been on loan to the British Museum.

The Museum had offered to purchase the cup for £1.3 million and churchwarden John Catchpole had petitioned for a faculty to allow the sale.  However Geoffrey Fox (82) had led a village group objecting to the sale.

Nigel Lane, the Lacock PCC treasurer, said the sale was necessary to support the restoration of the parish church.  “The income would help pay for any repair works for years to come,” he told the court.

Diocesan chancellor, the Rev. Justin Gau, who presided at the hearing, held that the cost and difficulty of obtaining appropriate insurance made it impossible to return the cup to the church and that, even if such insurance could be arranged, this would not be a good use of the PCC’s resources. He judged that funds would be better used for the maintenance of the church as a hub for mission.

The Archdeacon of Malmesbury, the Ven. Christine Froude, stated: “Although I am aware this case has generated strong feelings on both sides, I do think the very thoughtful and sensible judgement the Chancellor has given is the right one. It not only ensures the security and visibility of the cup to future generations but also, more importantly, allows the parish to focus its energy and resources on mission and outreach, safe in the knowledge that essential repairs to the building can be covered.”

The chancellor requested the parish set up a charitable trust to manage the funds from the sale and directed that a replica of the cup, costing no more than £5,000 be created for liturgical use by the church.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Belfast flag protests prompt calls for peace and prayer: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2012 p 5. December 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Politics.
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The Anglican bishops of Belfast have urged calm in the wake of a City Council vote restricting the flying of the Union flag at City Hall.

Last week the City Council voted to restrict the flying of the flag to set days of the week, prompting protests from loyalist groups.  The Police Service of Northern Ireland reported that 34 people had been arrested over the weekend following protests in the city centre. Death threats were also reported to have been made against some members of the council.

On 4 Dec 2012, Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore and Bishop Alan Abernathy of Connor released a statement condemning the “violence which took place in different parts of Belfast last night during and after the meeting of Belfast City Council. Whether we agree with the decision to fly the Union Flag on designated days or not, no one has a right to react in ways which abuse or harm other human beings. The awfulness of the situation was heightened by the beauty of the Christmas lights and market on the other side of the City Hall.”

Bishop Miller also released a statement last week in support of Naomi Long, the Member of Parliament for East Belfast, who was reported to have received death threats.

There can be “no moral justification for such a threat or acts of violence in the name of ‘protest’, however strongly held one’s views are on any symbols of identity or allegiance,” Bishop Miller said on 7 Dec. “ To resort to intimidation and attack is an affront to the high values of democratic freedom within the United Kingdom and to its flag and offers nothing to our society in Northern Ireland.”

The two Anglican bishops said the “vast majority in Northern Ireland want this province to be the kind of place where all people and traditions are respected, and where there is a good future for our children.”

The urged Ulster to take the path of peace and pray that “healing would come into all the fear, bitterness and uncertainty which lies only just below the surface in our society.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Peerage for Rowan Williams: Anglican Ink, December 26, 2012 December 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England.
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The Prime Minister’s Office has announced today the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has been given a life peerage by the Queen. Upon his retirement from office, Dr. Williams will become Baron Williams of Oystermouth.

The 26 December 2012 announcement from No. 10 Downing Street stated Dr,. Williams “will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.”

Under the Life Peerage Act of 1958 the Sovereign may appoint life peers who have the right to sit in the House of Lords. Life baronies under the Act are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, none are granted except upon the proposition of the prime minister, who may create up to 10 life baronies during each parliament in recognition for service to the country.

Court etiquette dictates Dr. Williams be addressed as the Rt. Hon. Baron Williams of Oystermouth, and in less formal circumstances as Baron or Lord Williams of Oystermouth. When the first name of a life peer is mentioned, it does not follow the honorific. Lord Rowan Williams connotes the archbishop is the son of a member of the higher peerage — an earl or duke. If the first name is used, he would be called Rowan, Lord Williams.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

Jane Holmes Dixon dead at 75: Anglican Ink, December 25, 2012 December 26, 2012

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The Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon

The Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde reports the former suffragan Bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon died in her sleep during the night of December 24/25.

In a statement printed on the diocesan website, Bishop  Budde wrote:

“I write this Christmas Day with sad news. Bishop Jane Dixon died in her sleep early this morning after a spending a joyful Christmas Eve with her family. Her death comes as a shock to her beloved husband of 52 years, Dixie, to their children and grandchildren, and to all of us blessed to have known Jane as a friend, mentor, and colleague.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Christmas sermons from across Britain: Anglican Ink, December 25, 2012 December 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church in Wales, Church of England, Church of Ireland.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is urging people to go and ‘join the human race’ this Christmas and become agents of transformation and renewal. In his final Christmas sermon in Canterbury Cathedral Dr Williams says the purpose of the Christian message isn’t to defend religion or make the church credible, but to pose a challenge to everyone to reconsider who they are: “Here is something so extraordinary that it interrupts our world; here is something that – like Moses in the story of the Burning Bush – makes you ‘turn aside to see’, that stops you short.  Faith begins in the moment of stopping … the moment when you can’t just walk on as you did before …”

The full text of the sermon can be found here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, Bishop Justin Welby of Durham preached a Christmas Eve Sermon and a Christmas Day Sermon at Durham Cathedral, which touched upon poverty and social discontent in Britain. He stated it was “very easy to be despondent” about the state of the church and the world.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls upon America to enact strict gun control: Anglican Ink, December 22, 2012 December 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Connecticut, Crime.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected the argument that “guns do not kill people, people kill people” stating the Connecticut school shooting was facilitated by the easy access to firearms permitted by U.S. laws.

In his final “Thought for the Day” broadcast as Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio 4, Dr. Williams acknowledged that by itself gun control will not end violence, but their strict regulation would curtail it.

“A week after the horrific killings of the schoolchildren of Sandy Hook in Connecticut, most of us are still struggling to get our minds around such a nightmare,” Dr. Williams said, adding that “nearly 6,000 children and teenagers were killed by firearms in the USA in just two years.”

The problem of “gang culture” was not unique to America, he noted, but “in the US, the question is, of course, about gun laws, one of the most polarising issues in American politics.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Communion ignores Mark Lawrence’s deposition: Anglican Ink, December 20, 2012 December 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina

The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican provinces have written to Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina stating they do not recognize the validity of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffert Schori’s purported deposition of him from episcopal office and the ordained ministry.

In a letter dated 14 December 2012, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo of Burma, and Archbishop Bolly Lapok of Southeast Asia said:

“We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

New primate of All-Ireland installed in Armagh: The Church of England Newspaper, December 17, 2012 December 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland.
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Ireland needs to move past its culture of sectarian anger and grievance, the new Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Richard Clarke, said last week at his service of installation at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and live lives modeled upon the “courtesy of God.”

The 15 Dec 2012 service began on an awkward note.  As he knocked on the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral with his crosier, the head of his staff snapped off.  However, the rest of the ceremony passed off without incident.

Speaking to a congregation that included Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, government representatives from the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as church leaders including Cardinal Sean Brady the Roman Catholic primate, the Irish House of Bishops, and the Archbishop of Wales Dr. Barry Morgan Dr. Clarke said Irish attitudes needed to change.

“We live,” he told the congregation, “in a culture within which anger rather than courtesy is the most prevalent behavioural pattern. Indeed, many seem to find their only focus and meaning in life through constant rage. Salman Rushdie has coined a useful phrase, ‘outrage identity’, for those who can find any meaning for themselves only in their anger at others. True courtesy is the converse of spiteful anger. And courtesy is not simply good manners – desirable as they most certainly are – but goes a great deal further.”

Dr. Clarke added the “God we worship is a God of beauty and of truth, and our language and our actions are to mirror this.”

Citing Archbishop William Temple’s words, Dr. Clarke asked the congregation to “pray for me, not simply that I may be wise or good although for these I need your prayers, but pray for me also that I may never let go the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ but ever walk in daily fellowship with him.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Rowan Williams: Freedom of Speech not absolute: Anglican Ink, December 19, 2012 December 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Free Speech.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has backed freedom of speech, up to a point. In a sermon delivered last week marking the 80th anniversary of the BBC World Service at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square, London, Dr. Rowan Williams said free speech was one of the pillars of a free and democratic society, but this freedom could be curtailed when it was offensive and abusive.

Dr. Williams began his remarks in his 12 Dec 2012 address by noting a recent government backed press inquiry into press abuses of privacy – the Leveson Inquiry – had placed the issue of free speech before the British public. “We in the UK are in the middle of a lively argument about free speech and the regulation of the media.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the pros and cons of press regulation and the exact degree of legal backing it needs.  But we risk forgetting the all-important issue of why free speech really matters,” he said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Hiltz calls on Canterbury to say “no” to the ACNA: Anglican Ink, December 19, 2012 December 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Communion, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Justin Welby and Archbishop Fred Hiltz of Canada

The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada has lobbied the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate not to extend formal recognition to the Anglican Church in North America. However, the decision who is an Anglican does not rest with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The communion’s formal statement as to who is an Anglican looks to fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury and fidelity to the doctrines and disciplines set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.

The 6 Dec 2012 meeting at Auckland Castle, Durham with Bishop Justin Welby was one of four stops for Archbishop Fred Hiltz, who also met with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace and with the general secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon, in London, and preached at Southwark Cathedral.

According to the Anglican Journal, Archbishop Hiltz said he mentioned his ongoing concern about efforts by the ACNA to be recognized by the Church of England. Archbishop Hiltz said he requested that if bodies of the Church of England are to meet with representatives of ACNA, “in fairness, they should also meet with us to get a better picture.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Call for a conservative Evangelical PEV: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2012 December 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Reform has called for the next Bishop of Ebbsfleet to be a conservative Evangelical. In an email sent to its members last week, Reform  wrote “please write to the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary” to “make the case” that the next Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) be a “conservative Evangelical.”

On 31 Oct 2012 the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Baker was appointed suffragan Bishop of Fulham in the Diocese of London.  With the retirement of Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes, no conservative Evangelicals remain in the House of Bishops.

The Rev. John Richardson told The Church of England Newspaper the need for an Evangelical PEV “arises because episcopacy involves certain understandings of both theology and the nature of ministry. There is also the importance of the representative nature of the bishop in Anglicanism, who both gathers and stands for a college of clergy.”

“Now if, in an episcopal church, a particular theology, especially regarding the nature of the college of clergy, has no representation in the episcopate, this is itself a deficiency and arguably renders the College of Bishops inadequate,” Mr. Richardson said.

However, the Rev. Roger Beckwith has observed that conservative Evangelicals have been slow in joining the PEV scheme. Created under the 1993 Act of Synod, Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs) exercise alternative Episcopal oversight for congregations unable to accept the ministry of women priests.  If the local diocesan bishop has participated in the ordination of women as priests, a parish may request that it be placed under the pastoral and sacramental care of a PEV. The parish remains within its local diocese, but the PEV exercises episcopal authority on behalf of the local bishop.

Dr. Beckwith said evangelical clergy “who consider the ordination of women as presbyters unbiblical” did not regard this issue as being the “greatest problem facing the church” in light of “homosexual activity and multi-faith worship being allowed and encouraged as well. To concentrate on the ordination of women would seem to show the lack of a due sense of proportion.”

Another “difficulty” had been churchmanship. In dioceses were the bishop is an Evangelical, “sound in all respects except the ordination of women, an Evangelical parish would not be easily persuaded to ask for an Anglo-Catholic PEV instead,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop backs bus preaching ban: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2012 December 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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The Bishop of Jamaica has backed the Jamaica Urban Transit Company’s (JUTC’s) ban on bus preachers, saying that proselytizing passengers on public transport was “boorish.” Writing in last week’s Kingston Sunday Observer, Bishop Howard Gregory said that while Christians were called to “go and make disciples of all nations”, that did not mean Christians should harangue people to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.

The bishop objected to a culture of “noise-making” adopted by some Christian groups that had led to harangues on public transport and proselytizing in hospitals. “I am aware of situations in which such persons attempt to take very sick patients out of hospital beds in order to get them baptised by immersion. The situation has become unbearable,” Bishop Gregory said.

Last month the managing director of the JUTC, Hardley Lewin, banned bus preachers following complaints of aggressive proselytizing on the country’s public transport. Several Pentecostal pastors have denounced the ban and called Admiral Lewin the “anti-Christ” for regulating when and where they can preach.

However Bishop Gregory wrote that bus preachers had misconstrued the Gospel. While Matthew 28:18-20 proclaims the Christian imperative to evangelize, “unfortunately, there have been many instances in history when the church has understood this to mean the coercion and mandatory conversion of persons to the faith,” the bishop wrote.

“These are sad chapters in the life of the church and to which the church in this age should not lend its support,” he wrote, adding that this “approach to the exercise of the mission of the church is inconsistent” with the model of ministry presented in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

“There was never any attempt to corral an audience and then present the Gospel to them, but rather, a recognition that the appeal of the gospel is voluntary and must not be presented to people in ways that are boorish and an imposition.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Guardian does not get Tim Scott: Get Religion December 18, 2012 December 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Politics, South Carolina.
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Amongst your GetReligion correspondents I was the last to board the twitter train. Now I knew about this micro-blogging tool and had heard of tumblr and instagram — and I even had a Facebook page. But I was slow to utilize these communication tools in my reporting. I cannot explain this reticence, for since I was a child I have been fascinated by these tools.

One of my memories of childhood was accompanying my father to his club in the city. I would wait for him in the smoking room where amidst the smell of strong cigars I would sit by the stock ticker and teletype machine and read the news as it came over the wire. I still remember the thrill of hearing the bell ring three times and the machine begin to chatter as it printed a breaking story.

Half a life time has passed since those days. Stock tickers, teletype and Telex machines are gone and I expect fax machines will soon pass away. Yet the thrill they gave me of instant access to a wider world I find in Twitter. This item from Byron York of National Review caught my eye.

Scott begins with moment of silence for Newtown and then says of appointment: ‘Thank you to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.’

12:15 PM – 17 Dec 12 ·

York was tweeting the press conference where South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that she was appointing Rep. Tim Scott to serve out the term of Sen. Jim DeMint. Approximately 45 minutes earlier I had read a breaking story from the Guardian on the news of the appointment.

Printed on the Guardian‘s website at 11:26 AM, the article entitled “Tim Scott appointed to fill Jim DeMint’s Senate seat for South Carolina” was a introduction of the new senator to Britain — the first African American Republican Senator in 30 years and the first from the old Confederacy since Reconstruction. The 700-word story was thorough. It reviewed his political career in Charleston and Congress, support from the Tea Party movement and speculated on his future prospects.

The Guardian also spoke to Scott’s personal story.

Some in the Republican party have drawn parallels between Scott and Barack Obama; his rise has been nurtured in recent years by the Republican party’s leadership, impressed by the carefully spoken and deeply conservative Charleston native, raised, like Obama, by a single mother. … Born in Charleston, Scott’s parents divorced when he was seven, and he attributes his belief in conservative values to his mother, a nurse.

“By the time I entered high school, I was completely off track. My mother was working hard, trying to help me to realize that there was a brighter future, but I really couldn’t see it,” Scott wrote in 2010 at the launch of his congressional campaign.

Then, he says, he had the good fortune to meet the owner of a Chick-fil-A fast food franchise next door to the movie theatre where he worked. “He taught me that if you want to receive, you have to first give. Embedded in that conversation, I came to realize, was the concept that my mother was teaching me about individual responsibility.”

The article closes with Scott’s decision not to join the Congressional Black Caucus.

Thanking the Democratic-dominated caucus for its invitation, Scott said: “My campaign was never about race.”

All in all this was nicely done, up to a point. It gives British readers some flavor of the newest American Senator and rising star of the Republican Party. Yet, the story is only half told of Tim Scott.

What role has faith played in Scott’s life? What were the values taught to him by his conservative mother? Should not the mention of Chick-fil-A have rung some bells in the Guardian reporter’s head? Taken in conjunction with Scott’s avowal of his Christian faith at the press conference, the absence of faith from the Guardian story about Tim Scott leaves the story half finished.

Now the article is not faith free. It mentions Scott’s work as a county commissioner in having the Ten Commandments publicly displayed outside the council chambers. But the Guardian describes this action as being a regional political affectation. And curiously it describes his appointment to the Senate seat in the lede of the article as a “remarkable turnaround”. Yet it also notes:

In 2012 he was elected unopposed, winning 99% of the vote, with policies mirroring those of his party in the South: deep opposition to tax increases, Obamacare, unions, abortion and immigration reform.

In what way was Scott’s appointment a turnaround? Winning reelection with 99 per cent of the vote speaks not to political misfortune. The bottom line with this article is that although it has most of the facts, it misses the story. The Guardian does not understand American politics as seen by its discussion of the Republican Party of the South and in the role faith plays in the life of Tim Scott (and for many Americans for that matter.) Not the best outing from the Guardian, I’m afraid.

First published at GetReligion.

Bishop warns of civil war as Egypt heads to the polls: Anglican Ink, December 14, 2012. December 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Islam, Politics.
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Tahir Square, Cairo

The political battle between Islamists and moderates may push Egypt into civil war, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis has warned.

In a pastoral letter released the day before first vote on a national referendum to ratify a constitution drawn up by the Islamist-dominated parliament, Dr. Anis writes the democratic hopes that lay behind the “Arab Spring”, the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, have faded away.

“I cannot tell you how much I am heavy-hearted because of what is going on in my beloved country Egypt. Many Egyptians were expecting that after the 25 January Revolution in 2011 there would be no exclusion for any citizen or groups because of their political or religious stance. Sadly, we are still groaning for this equality,” the bishop wrote on 14 Dec 2012.

In his letter, Dr. Anis described the background to the new constitution, noting it had been crafted by Islamists with little meaningful input from Christians, moderate Muslims or secularists. The lack of consultation spelled troubled, he warned.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Stanley Ntagali to be installed as Archbishop of Uganda: Anglican Ink, December 14, 2012 December 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of the Province of Uganda.
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Archbishops Henry Orombi (left) and Stanley Ntagali (right)

The Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali will be installed as the 8th Archbishop and Primate of the Church of Uganda and translated to the Diocese of Kampala this Sunday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Namirembe.

President Yoweri Museveni along with the country’s political, professional and social leaders are expected to attend the 16 Dec 2012 along with the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, the leader of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Archbishop Robert Duncan of the ACNA, and 7 other archbishops and bishops representing the wider Anglican Communion.

Elected by the 34 members of the Uganda House of Bishops on 22 June 2012, Bishop Ntagali was consecrated on 19 December 2004 and has served as the first Bishop of Masindi-Kitara Diocese for eight years.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina schism descending into farce: The Church of England Newspaper, December 16, 2012 p 6. December 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has defrocked the Bishop of South Carolina, writing on 5 Dec 2012 that she had accepted the “voluntary renunciation of ministry” of Bishop Mark J. Lawrence.

However, Bishop Lawrence has responded that he felt no “need to argue or rebut” the accusations and actions as they were ridiculous.

In her press release announcing the move, Bishop Jefferts Schori said that acting under the terms of Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 the Presiding Bishop “has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.”

Bisho Lawrence responded: “Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ—But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous,” the bishop said.

The announcement released by the church’s press office, the Episcopal News Service, said “pastoral outreach to Lawrence had been ongoing for a period of several years, including up to the time he announced his intentions” to withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

“Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori along with members of her staff took steps to work with Lawrence.  In addition, repeated attempts by the Bishops of Province IV and notably Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina were made to discuss the situation with Lawrence and to offer help in achieving a resolution.”

Bishop Lawrence’s oral statement to the 17 Nov 2012 meeting of his diocesan convention that: “We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago;” and “We have moved on. With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished: legally and canonically;” was evidence of his having abandoned the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

However, the presiding bishop’s claim to have received the renunciation of Bishop Lawrence is at odds with the language of the canon.  The canon used to depose the bishop without trial states: “If any Bishop of this Church shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made.”

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed that “Bishop Lawrence (a) did not address any writing to the Presiding Bishop; (b) did not renounce his ordained Ministry; and (c) did not request to be removed from that Ministry. The elaborately crafted press release from the Public Affairs Office is simply a poor attempt to cover over a huge, public lie.”

That “huge, public lie has been told simply for the sake of the Presiding Bishop’s and ECUSA’s own convenience,” he said.

Members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice supported the use of the abandonment canon against Bishop Lawrence even though he met none of the criteria for its use.

The ends of removing Bishop Lawrence from the ministry of the Episcopal Church justified the means taken by the presiding bishop, Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas told The Church of England Newspaper. “I believe, and Canonical experts confirm, this (along with a variety of other statements made by Bishop Lawrence) constitutes renunciation,” he said.

On 8 Dec 2012 a group of national church loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina known as the “steering committee” reported that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori would “convene” a special meeting of the diocesan convention to elect a “provisional bishop” to replace Bishop Lawrence.

In their press statement, the steering committee explained that “Episcopalians in the diocese are without a bishop after the Presiding Bishop accepted the renunciation of Mark Lawrence on December 5 and released him from ordained ministry. The announcements by local church leaders that they have left The Episcopal Church has left the Diocese with no Standing Committee, which normally would lead a diocese in the absence of a bishop.”

This assertion, however, has been rejected by the diocese. South Carolina civil law and the canons of the Episcopal Church do not permit the presiding bishop to “declare” a standing committee to be vacant.

Under South Carolina civil and canon law, a quorum of clergy and lay delegates to the convention must be present for its actions to have legal force.  If only those 5 to 12 congregations who have expressed reservations about the withdrawal of the diocese form the national church attend the convention, any action taken will be void under civil and canon law.

However, appeals to the rule of law and church order have so far not halted the presiding bishop’s campaign against conservatives in the Episcopal Church. Objections to similar “rump” conventions held in Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Quincy and extra-canonical defrocking of bishops have gone unheeded by the wider Episcopal Church.  However, the Texas Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly on the legality of the loyalist group in Fort Worth claiming it is the true Episcopal Diocese.

Canonical legerdemain and unlawful usurpation of authority by the presiding bishop in the aim of a political agenda were a sad commentary on the moral state of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence observed.

The presiding bishop would go to any lengths to exterminate dissent and would twist words to achieve her purposes. “She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address” to the South Carolina special convention, he said.

But Bishop Lawrence reported that he was “heartened” by the support he had received by the “vast majority” within the diocese and from the “majority of Anglicans around the world” who have “expressed in so many ways that they consider me an Anglican Bishop in good standing and consider this Diocese of South Carolina to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. “

“So we move on—onward and upward,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

ACC won’t let Uruguay go: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012, p 5. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
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Holy Trinity Cathedral, Montevideo

The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council has declined to back the July 2012 request from the Diocese of Uruguay to allow it to secede from the Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur (de América).  Meeting last month before the start of ACC general meeting in Auckland, the standing committee turned down Uruguay’s plea to move from the conservative Southern Cone to the liberal Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

The ACC recommended Uruguay focus on electing a new bishop to succeed the Rt. Rev. Miguel Tamayo who was to retire last June. However the diocese responded that this advice was unhelpful as it had elected the former general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archdeacon Michael Pollesel to be its bishop, but his election was not ratified by the Southern Cone’s House of Bishops.

The Anglican Journal reported Uruguay would hold another election, but it was not optimistic that its choice of bishop would pass muster with the wider province as grave “missiological, philosophical and theological differences” remained.

On 12 Nov 2010 the diocese voted to secede from the Cono Sur after the provincial synod declined to authorize the ordination of women priests.  Uruguay had proposed the women priest resolution, which was passed by the lay and episcopal orders, but defeated in the clergy order at the provincial synod in Buenos Aires.

The diocese had “sought to allow a diocesan option in the matter, rather than Provincial wide adoption, so that the diocese could proceed to minister within a very difficult agnostic milieu. Uruguay felt that after a nine year hiatus since the last vote for approval, a patient wait would be rewarded. That was not the result and so the Uruguayan Synod took this measure to move away from the Province,” provincial spokesman Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia said in a statement given to the press.

The 12 – 15 November 2011 meeting in Asunción, Paraguay of the provincial synod rejected Uruguay’s requested to secede, but adopted a motion requesting a study in the feasibility of dividing the province into Atlantic and Pacific halves with Peru, Bolivia and two dioceses in Chile comprising one province and Argentina, Northern Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay comprising the second.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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