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The Independent rings for the Church Police: Get Religion, July 9, 2013 July 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion.
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Son: (Graham Chapman, coming in the door) ‘Ello Mum. ‘Ello Dad.

Klaus: (Eric Idle) ‘Ello son.

S: There’s a dead bishop on the landing, dad!

K: Really?

Mother: (Terry Jones) Where’s it from?

S: Waddya mean?

M: What’s its diocese?

S: Well, it looked a bit Bath and Wells-ish to me.

K: (getting up and going out the door) I’ll go and have a look.

M: I don’t know who keeps bringin’ ‘em in here.

S: It’s not me!

M: I’ve got three of ‘em down by the bin, and the dustmen won’t touch ‘em!

K: (coming back in) Leicester.

M: ‘Ow d’you know?

K: Tattooed on the back o’ the neck. I’ll call the police.

M: Shouldn’t you call the church?

S: Call the church police!

K: All right. (shouting) The Church Police! ….

And now for something completely different — a news report from The Independent on this week’s meeting of General Synod of the Church of England.

But, that is not exactly true. Not the news report from York on the meeting of the Church of England’s legislature — that is correct. Rather the suggestion that the story entitled “Disruption at General Synod as man arrested on suspicion of assaulting steward” is not a farce akin to the Monty Python Church Police skit.

I sympathize with generalist reporters who are assigned to cover religion news stories. It presents a golden opportunity to make an ass of oneself. Alas, this story is an example. I do not mean the mangling of titles … The Archbishop of Canterbury is called on second and third reference “Mr. Welby” and “the Most Rev Welby”. Need I say that this is an error.

It is not this naming error that prompted me to push this piece out in the Get Religion public eye. Rather it is the author’s assumption that churches in England are  prisons or military installations. Let me take you through this story to show you what I mean.

The lede gives the basic details:

A meeting of the General Synod was disrupted when a man, described by the Church of England as having “personal health issues”, was arrested for allegedly assaulting two stewards.

A spokesman for the Church said a man was asked to wait as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu moved in procession to the front of York Minster. He reportedly then lashed out, leaving a member of Dr Sentamu’s staff Dave Smith requiring treatment from ambulance staff.

The story adds further details, insinuating the man a the heart of the fray was a loon. The story then shifts to a discussion of the issues before synod using this bridge.

The worrying breach in security came as members of the Church’s national assembly are today expected to formally endorse an apology over clerical child abuse.

What “worrying breach in security” can there have been? Public worship is public worship. Anyone may attend. The sub-title also stresses this security theme.

Embarrassing security failure man held just yards from Archbishop of Canterbury on day of high-profile formal announcement

The Independent does not explain why this was a security failure. Who was embarrassed? Security is provided at Church of England services by officious sensible-shoe wearing women bearing programs, weedy be-pimpled youths directing you to chairs or tightly blazered men passing the collection plate. There is actually a church office — vergers — responsible for security.

But the concept of “security” is utterly foreign to a church setting. The Independent approaches this story lacking a sense of what goes on, and who goes in to church.

What were they expecting? The Church Police? Though nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

First printed at Get Religion.

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.

General Synod received a vote of “no confidence” from the Diocese of Bristol: Anglican Ink, December 1, 2012 December 1, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
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The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Synod the Diocese of Bristol has endorsed a motion of no confidence in the General Synod of the Church of England, stating the failure of Synod last month to endorse legislation opening the episcopate to women clergy frustrated the “clear will” of the church.

On 1 Dec 2012, delegates to the synod adopted a three part motion of no confidence by a vote of 51 to 3. It stated:

In the light of the recent failure of the General Synod to pass the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure at its sessions of November 2012, despite overwhelming support for this legislation by this and other diocesan synods of the Church of England, Bristol Diocesan Synod:

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Evangelicals/Catholics lay out conditions for women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 28, 2012 November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
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Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals will not block new attempts by the General Synod of the Church of England to introduced legislation permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate, provided adequate safeguards are introduced to protect liberty of conscience, freedom of worship and association for the members of the Church of England opposed to the innovation.

On 28 Nov 2012 the chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod the Rev. Canon Simon Killwick and the chairman of the conservative Evangelical group Reform the Rev. Preb. Rod Thomas released a statement  pledging their cooperation with the proposals set forth by Archbishops’ Council to reintroduce legislation on women bishops for consideration at the July meeting of General Synod.

At the close of their 27-28 meeting, the Archbishops’ Council released a statement saying that some of their members were saddened and shocked by the outcome of the women’s bishop vote.  Therefore, “the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted: November 24, 2012 November 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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This week Kevin and George talk about the Diocese of South Carolina and the response to their vote to leave the Episcopal Church. Peter talks about the recent vote for Women Bishop in the Church of England and Allan Haley discusses the legal ramifications facing the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. And as always there is much much more in Episode 57. #AU57 comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com — Thanks to all who sent money for George’s new camera — sadly Kevin told George the wrong settings for HD…

Church of England rejects women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
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The General Synod of the Church of England has rejected legislation allowing women priest to be appointed to the episcopate.

Following 12 years of legislative progress and several hours of debate during the 20 Nov 2012 afternoon session of synod, the Consecration and Ordination of Women Measure failed to pass in all three houses of the Church of England’s legislative body.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of England will not break with South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, Church of England, South Carolina.
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The Church of England has declined to accept Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s assertion the Diocese of South Carolina may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church.  Nor will Saturday’s vote by the South Carolina Special Convention affect the standing of its clergy with the Church of England at this time, General Synod learned today.

Speaking for the church’s Council for Christian Unity (CCU), Bishop Christopher Hill said the Church of England sought to maintain good relations with all sides in the Episcopal Church’s civil war and would take no “hasty” actions at this time.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Archbishop of Canterbury defends ACC-15 from charges it is irrelevant November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Ink, Church of England.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected suggestions this month’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council was irrelevant, saying there was much to be “grateful for” from the ten day gathering in Auckland, New Zealand.

Speaking to the General Synod of the Church of England on 19 Nov 2012, Dr. Rowan Williams said he wished to respond to criticisms the “structure and pattern of ACC meetings is designed to push to the margin some of the more difficult and controversial matters in the Communion … to focus on mind on the process and take our minds away from the arguments we are not prepared to have.”

“I don’t believe this is true,” Dr. Williams said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Colin Podmore to leave Synod Staff: The Church of England Newspaper, October 22, 2012 October 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Clerk to the General Synod of the Church of England, Dr. Colin Podmore, will leave his post at the end of March, the Secretary General of the Church of England, Mr. William Fittall, reported last week, following Dr. Podmore’s appointment as the new Director of Forward in Faith.

Dr. Podmore “will continue to fulfill the full range of his current responsibilities” until his departure, but “at his request” he will “not play a role in relation to the Women Bishops legislation,” Mr. Fittall said on 13 Oct 2012.

He added that Dr. Podmore’s “outstanding skills and depth of knowledge are going to be greatly missed. If there is any consolation it is that he will still be devoting his notable abilities to the cause of mutual flourishing within the Church of England.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Newcastle inter-faith talks ended over EAPPI vote: The Church of England Newspaper, August 19, 2012 p 6. August 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in British Jewry, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Judaism.
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While formal relations between the Anglican Communion and Judaism appear unaffected by last month’s General Synod vote to endorse the work of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the 9 July vote has seen a breakdown in some local ecumenical relationships with the Church of England.

The Representative Council of North-East Jewry has broken off relations with Bishop Martin Wharton of the Diocese of Newcastle in response to his support for the EAPPI motion.  However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office reports that a two-day meeting held after the synod vote of the Anglican-Jewish Commission of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel  had been cordial.

Meeting from 31 July to 1 August at Mansfield College, Oxford, the Anglican-Jewish Commission received papers Dr Jane Clements on “Anglicanism and the Secular State” and Rabbi Rasson Arousi on “Democracy in Judaism’s Political Vision”.

A communique from the gathering stated the commission also discussed “various matters of concern, including the recent Private Member’s Motion that related to Israel/Palestine at the Church of England’s General Synod.”

The commission acknowledged the strain imposed on Anglican-Jewish relations by the Synod vote stating “there was acknowledgement that this had caused much distress within the Jewish community in Britain and also within the Christian community as well as in Israel and beyond.”

However, it also noted there was “appreciation” for the “efforts of all those who were engaged on the issue to introduce greater understanding and a wider perspective. The Commission discussed steps that could be taken to address the complexities of the challenges raised.”

Last week the Jewish Chronicle reported that the presidents of the Representative Council of North-East Jewry, Brian Mark and Eric Joseph, had written to Bishop Wharton about his vote in favour of the EAPPI motion.  They were perturbed he had endorsed EAPPI “despite…our grave concerns about that proposal, especially that it would encourage anti-Semitism.”

The bishop also aroused their ire by agreeing to attend a meeting sponsored by EAPPI “in Gateshead in November, which plans to include a session on boycotts and divestment by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”

These actions make “any further contact with the Jewish community in the North-East impossible,” they said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Jewish leaders denounce anti-Semitic synod statements: The Church of England Newspaper, August 5, 2012 p 5. August 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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British Jewish leaders have denounced anti-Semitic comments made by members of the General Synod during its vote last month on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

At last month’s meeting in York, a private member’s motion brought by John Dinnen of the Diocese of Hereford asked Synod to affirm the “vital work” of the EAPPI and encourage churches to support its work by inviting the group’s members to speak to the conflict in the region.  After the 9 July vote, the chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) Bishop Nigel McCulloch stated that he had warned Jewish leaders against “overlobbying” as Jewish interference in the synod deliberations may have “led us to vote the other way”.

The Board of Deputies responded to Bishop McCulloch’s comments stating: “The Jewish community does not need lessons from the Anglican Church in justice and peace, themes which originated in our tradition. Moreover, to hear the debate at Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’, is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.”

Jewish leaders had urged synod to reject the EAPPI motion saying it would harm Christian – Jewish relations.  EAPPI’s perspective of the conflict was “one-sided” and failed to provide its volunteers with a “full reflection” of issues, the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, told The Times before the vote.  “Minimizing Israel’s well-founded fears… will not advance the cause of peace,” he said.

The Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, had also urged rejection of the EAPPI motion saying it would strengthened the “culture of incitement against Jews and Christians” in Palestine and also failed to take into account the rocket campaign waged from Gaza against Israel.

After the vote supporters of EAPPI hailed the decision as a step towards peace.  The ACNS news service cited Helen Drewery, General Secretary of Quaker Peace and Social Witness as having applauded the vote.  “Within hours of hearing the General Synod vote, we also heard of further attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians living in the village of Yanoun, while tending their crops and flocks. We see Synod’s affirmation of EAPPI as strengthening its nonviolent efforts to bring peace to the region,” she said.

However, the Board of Deputies of British Jews – the umbrella organization representing the majority of Jewish organizations in the U.K. – released a stating saying “Justifying its decision using the views of marginal groups in Israel and the UK, the Synod has ridden rough shod over the very real and legitimate concerns of the UK Jewish community, showing a complete disregard for the importance of Anglican-Jewish relations.”

“Whilst EAPPI’s aims may appear admirable, its program lacks any kind of balance and shows nothing of the context of a hugely complex situation,” the Board of Deputies said.

“Unsurprisingly its graduates return with simplistic and radical perspectives, giving talks against Israel which do nothing to promote an understanding of the situation in the Middle East, much less promote a peaceful and viable solution to its problems. Members of Jewish communities across the country have suffered harassment and abuse at EAPPI meetings and yet Synod has completely dismissed their experiences,” the board said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.