Archive for March, 2017

Bishop Calls For ‘Thanksgiving’ Prayers For Gay Couples

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017


The Bishop of Chelmsford is calling for thanksgiving services and eucharists for gay couples amid controversy on how the Church should move forward.

Stephen Cottrell said the CofE was seen as ‘immoral’ for its refusal to welcome gay marriage stressing it would ‘particularly foolish’ to ignore the damage done to the Church’s mission.

Stephen Cottrell’s address marks the most open call for a change by a bishop.Wiki

In the most forthright call for change by a bishop so far, Cottrell said the Church should reach an ‘agree to disagree’ compromise over gay marriage as it had done over women’s ordination.

He acknowledged such a compromise would be a ‘step too far’ while ‘others think it nowhere near far enough’ but said change ‘cannot simply wait til there is complete ecumenical and Anglican Communion agreement’.

It is the latest intervention since the Archbishops of Canterbury and York called for a ‘radical, new Christian inclusion’ after a report maintaining a largely conservative stance on sexuality was rejected by the CofE’s ruling general synod.

‘It would be particularly foolish for us to ignore the missiological damage that is done when that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society and by what seems to be a significant number of Anglican Christian people in this country, is deemed morally unacceptable by the Church. As I have said before, I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set,’ he said in an address to Chelmsford’s local diocesan synod.

LGBT Eucharists and prayers for gay couples are already offered by some clergy but it is not clear whether the Church’s teaching permits such moves and Cottrell’s address marked the first time a bishop has openly backed them.

He went on to say the Church’s attitude to gay couples was fundamental to its existence and role in society.

‘It is therefore not sufficient to say, “Oh if only we could stop talking about human sexuality and get on with the real business of preaching the gospel!” This is the real business of preaching the gospel: it is about what it means to be made in the image of God and of the new humanity God has won for us in Christ. It is about finding the legitimate boundaries within which Christian people can legitimately disagree.’

Comparing the divisions over sexuality with those over women bishops, which the Church allowed for in 2014, he said a similar deal could be reached.

‘Whether you believe there should be same sex marriage or the blessing of same sex unions or whether you do not, you are still a faithful Anglican,’ he said. ‘We need to find ways of living with this diversity, not being torn apart by it.’

Responding from conservative blog site Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes wrote: ‘It is now over to the orthodox clergy and laity in Chelmsford Diocese, first, to see what they will do.

‘Some will be talking about looking for some form of differentiation, perhaps alternative oversight, whether informal or more visible. Some, especially laity, will be looking for another denomination. We hope that those who continue to recognise the Bishop’s spiritual authority and do nothing, will see the need to join others in taking principled action. This pattern will be repeated in other Dioceses in coming months.’

Women Bishops And Bishop Philip North: What Does ‘Mutual Flourishing’ Actually Mean?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017


The Church of England is heading for ongoing clashes on women’s ordination after Philip North stepped down following a campaign against his promotion as Bishop of Sheffield.

Martyn Percy, who led the calls for him to withdraw, has hinted he will continue to oppose any traditionalist bishop who is nominated for a senior role.

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, admitted the row had been a ‘sad one’ for the whole Church but said there was ‘confusion’ about what ‘mutual flourishing’ might mean. The term was adopted in the CofE’s settlement passing women bishops in an attempt to hold together both sides of the fractious debate.

Martyn Percy is the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.Diocese of Oxford

‘I think it is very difficult because terms like ‘mutual flourishing’ and ‘gracious respect’ have been taken by some and inflated to mean their views are equally valid,’ he told the BBC’s Sunday programme.

‘What I think you can’t do is say that views that are inherently discriminatory – that is to say that they will not accept women as priests or bishops, or men who have been ordained by women bishops – those views are inherently discriminatory and you cannot impose those over a workforce – clergy – who don’t want to be discriminated against. It’s really not possible.’

He went on to say the Church’s compromise insisted women must be recognised as true priests.

‘That principle states that women and men are to be treated as true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy without reference to gender,’ Percy said of the 2014 agreement.

‘The problem here is we had a nomination [in Philip North] who could hold they were legally priests but not truly priests and that is a form of discrimination unfortunately,’ he went on.

‘It is quite possible to disagree and to disagree well and to have cultures of mutual flourishing but mutual flourishing does not mean that you accord equal status to discriminatory views.’

The traditionalist Bishop of Wakefield, Tony Robinson, who opposes women’s ordination, called for the Archbishop of Canterbury to intervene.

‘What has happened to Bishop Philip clearly does not reflect the settlement under which two and half years ago the Church of England decided to open up the ordination of women to bishops,’ he told the weekly radio show.

Hinting at the fallout may affect any future deal with sexuality, he added: ‘We need to ask the House of Bishops now led by the Archbishops to restore confidence in what was decided only two and a half years ago.

‘It is important for the Church that we are clear about this. It is obviously important because there are other issues facing the Church where such a pronouncement or decisions may be agreed in the future.’

Diocese of South Carolina Votes to Affiliate with the ACNA

Sunday, March 12th, 2017
SUMMERVILLE, SC (March 11, 2017) – Today at its 226th Annual Convention, the Diocese of South Carolina voted unanimously to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

“I cast my vote to affiliate with the ACNA with eager and expectant faith,” saibp Lawrenced the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of South Carolina in his address to the convention. “I believe God has called us to this and I believe we will find a deeper richness in our vocation; fuller fellowship in the Spirit; a more zealous thrust in mission.  But most of all, I believe a door will be opened, the fresh winds of the Spirit will blow, and a caged eagle will soar.”

Affiliation with the ACNA brings the Diocese into full communion with an organization of 111,853 members in 966 churches and 32 dioceses spread across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Founded in 2009 at the urging and with direction from Anglican primates of the Global South, the ACNA represents the unifying of a number of different groups in terms of theological approach and worship emphasis including evangelicals, charismatics and Anglo-catholics.

The Most Rev. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, who spoke to the more than 350 convention delegates and clergy attending following the vote said,  “I am thankful for Bishop Mark Lawrence, for his steadfast and Godly leadership, for his friendship, and for his humility throughout this entire process. Your witness in mission, in scholarship, and steadfast commitment to the historical teaching of the Bible is commendable. You are bringing with you many gifts that will further strengthen our Province, and the larger Anglican world.”

“From Pentecost on Christians are meant to be connected,” said the Very Rev. Craige Borrett, Rector of Christ-St. Paul’s, Hollywood, who served as Chairman of the Provincial Affiliation Task Force for the Diocese, and who recommended this affiliation last March. “We’re family. And with this decision we’re uniting ourselves with a diverse group of biblical, orthodox, Anglicans who are recognized by the majority of the Anglican Communion.  I’m excited about the impact we can have as well.”

“The ACNA is full of ministry friends and colleagues we have known and worked with for many years,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis. “It is a joy to now be under one roof with them.  We’ll be blessed to have the benefit of the work they’re doing in important areas like church planting.  And we look forward to sharing our assets as well – things like our strong youth and grandparenting ministries and our beachfront camp and conference center, St. Christopher’s.”

The Convention was also blessed with a recorded greeting from the leadership of the Anglican Communion’s GAFCON movement, The Most Rev. Peter Jensen and the Most Rev. Peter Akinola.  “In times like these we need to be able to partner with fellow Christians who share common faith with us,” said the Archbishop Akinola.  “We need to stand together to make a difference in this world of darkness where people are deviating day by day from the standards of scripture. We know that in the ACNA we can stand together to work for the glory of God.”

The ACNA Provincial Assembly will meet in June of this year and take up the application of the Diocese for affiliation. The expectation is of an enthusiastic welcome.

GAFCON Chairman Blasts Church of England’s Failure to Uphold Apostolic Teaching on Sexuality

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 has now been downgraded to something provisional and secondary
GAFCON-UK says no faithful Anglicans will be left behind or abandoned

By David W. Virtue, DD

GAFCON chairman and Nigerian Archbishop, Nicholas Okoh, says the Church of England’s recent vote on marriage and sexuality was “very distressing”, creating such “confusion” it now puts the Anglican Communion at greater risk of being spread through the rest of the Communion.

The Evangelical Archbishop said the Synod report tried to face two ways. “While it recommended that there should be no change to the doctrine of marriage, it held out the possibility that could change in the future and that for the present, in line with present practice, there should be ‘maximum freedom’ pastorally within the existing legal framework.”

Okoh said that following this rebuke to the House of Bishops, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a letter which seemed to entrench the contradiction. “They call for ‘a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church’ which not only draws on the traditional sources of Anglican authority, but also on what they describe as a ‘21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.’

“But the inclusion the gospel offers has always been radical. All are included in fallen human nature and yet all may be included in the Kingdom of God through repentance and faith in Christ crucified. While we are included in the Kingdom solely through God’s grace, this is not cheap grace and there is a great gulf between the morality of the Bible and the neo-pagan sexual morality that is now dominant in the West. We need to be as clear today as the apostles were to the churches of the New Testament that new life in Christ means a radical break with the practices and lifestyle of the world.”

The Nigerian Primate said some Bishops were quick to seize the initiative with their own interpretation of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’. He cited the Bishop of Manchester, who called for “much more than the maximum freedom” recommended by the House of Bishops report, while the Bishop of Selby (a suffragan of York Diocese) claimed “The majority view of the Synod therefore is that we need to explore a more creative way ahead for faithful human relationships rather than remaining where we are”.

Okoh said the effect of the vote in General Synod depended upon how it is interpreted. “It could have been an opportunity to reaffirm apostolic teaching on marriage and sexuality, but the Archbishops’ talk of radical inclusion and a 21st century understanding has given great encouragement to those who want to bring the Church of England into line with the values of secular society.

“The result is that the historic and biblical mind of the Church, as expressed by the bishops of the Anglican Communion in Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998, has now been downgraded to something provisional and secondary.”

Okoh said the only hope lay in the emergence of GAFCON-UK. “The confusion created by the General Synod vote on 15th February makes it abundantly clear that a new vision is now needed of what Anglican Christianity in England can and should be.’ GAFCON exists to provide a new vision of vibrant biblical partnership in mission for the Anglican Communion as a whole. No faithful Anglicans will be left behind or abandoned.

“In these troubled times it is good to recover the biblical perspective that ‘here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come’ (Hebrews 13:14). Our defining center is not a place, but a person, the Lord Jesus Christ and our ultimate authority is not a human institution, but the Word of God. We gathered in Jerusalem in 2008 in the place that witnessed the mighty acts of God in the death and resurrection of his Son and from where the Apostles were sent out to all the world. We shall return next year with great thankfulness to God for his continued favor, but our eyes will be upon the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, of which we are members by grace and we eagerly look forward to its full revealing when Jesus returns.”