GB news – 29th June

A rebellion we do not need – Andrew Carey;  Senior women clergy write to General Synod members; Reform and women bishops;  Parish income and ministry stats published; “Help, my friends think I’m mad!’ ABC at Youth Day  

A rebellion we do not need – Andrew Carey
Church of England Newspaper July 1 – What are we to make of the latest Episcopal acts of rebellion in recent weeks?

First, we have the Diocesan Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam and the suffragan Bishops of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, and Grantham, Tim Ellis, publicly disagreeing with the Church’s opposition against same-sex marriage. Second we have the widespread defeat of the Covenant by a number of bishops in their diocesan synods. And finally, the motions at Worcester and Salisbury Synods publicly disputing the House of Bishops’ amendments to the women bishops’ legislation.

It goes without saying that it is the first act of rebellion that is most serious. The distinguished German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg wrote a number of years ago that ‘gay marriage’ was a firstorder issue. “Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

Against this background, it might be said that the vocal opposition against the Covenant and the bishops’ amendments, though ill-mannered and obtuse, are hardly matters of fundamental importance. Yet this is to underestimate what they represent. The only thing that the Covenant will help us to do as Anglicans is to give some kind of structural mechanism for jointly recognising first-order issues. By rejecting the Covenant and falsely misrepresenting it as an instrument of coercion, we discover how badly liberal Anglicans are estranged from us. They first seek to prevent discernment and then they act dishonestly — is there any way to bridge the gap between us? Recent moves by the Bishop of Salisbury in his diocesan Synod to reject amendments by the very House of Bishops of which he is a member, are also a neat illustration of how badly things have gone wrong. To lose the debate in the House of Bishops and to continue to protest is one thing, but then to enlist your diocesan synod to undermine the Episcopal college of which you are a part is a step too far.

The broken collegiality of the bishops has one good result. We can no longer pretend that all is well in the Church of England by ignoring the signs of the times. This open rebellion forces us to recognise that battle is being waged by liberal Anglicans for the very soul of our Church. The choice we face is to insist upon the Gospel, or to surrender and cease to be a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Senior women clergy write to General Synod members  
A group of senior women clergy have sent the letter below to the members of General Synod to express their opposition to the bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure,…

Reform and women bishops  
Reform has issued this statement saying that the bishops’ amendments are not sufficient and that they will encourage their members on General Synod to vote against the legislation as it stands. Media Statement: Reform members on GS encouraged to vote..

Parish income and ministry stats published  
The Church of England has published its latest information both about parish income and expenditure and about trends in ministry numbers in Church Statistics 2010/11.

“Help, my friends think I’m mad!’ ABC at Youth Day
Archbishop Rowan Williams welcomed around 80 students aged 15-18 years to Lambeth Palace for a day of sharing and discussion, reflection and worship, and a barbecue lunch.

Speaking on the theme – Help, my friends think I’m mad!’ – he said : Then there’s sex; a matter of constant interest to pretty well the whole human race, including not only issues about what you do sexually, but also about gender – about men and women. You’ll have noticed that in the Church of England at the moment, we’re in the middle of what looks like a pretty complicated argument about women bishops. I’m speaking as somebody who really very much wants to see women bishops as soon as possible. Like most of you, I am used to a world in which men and women share in decision‑making and discussion without any big issue. I really long to see a time when bishops, as a group, can be like that and feel more like other groups. It is something I am very committed to. I share the frustration of a lot of people, that we’re tangled-up in trying to get the maximum support for it in the Church of England and every move in one direction makes other people move away. It’s like one of those terrible games you get in Christmas crackers sometimes where you have to get the little silver balls into holes – you always get two of them but then the other one goes off somewhere else.

That’s an area where we are in the middle of quite a lot of tangles. Same with same‑sex marriage, where once more we’re used to being alongside people who are gay; many of our friends may be – indeed we may be – wrestling with that issue ourselves, and the Church is scratching its head and trying to work out where it is on all that, and what to think about it. What’s frustrating is that we still have Christian people whose feelings about it are so strong, and sometimes so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted, that that just sends out a message of unwelcome, of lack of understanding, of lack of patience. So whatever we think about it, we need, as a Church, to be tackling what we feel about it.

The Guardian comments on Archbishop Williams speech here.