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Committee of the Evangelical Group in General Synod (EGGS) comments on House of Bishops statement on same sex marriage

March 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

EGGS Committee offers comment to EGGS members on the House of Bishops' guidance on same sex marriage. It is published with permission.

Dear EGGS member

I am writing on behalf of the EGGS committee to offer a brief response to the Archbishops' Pastoral Letter and Appendix released on February 15th.

We welcome the Archbishops’ pastoral letter of 15th February and note the divergence to which the Statement refers between the general understanding of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England. In view of this significant change we believe that the House of Bishops is increasingly called to inhabit a prophetic role in articulating Scriptural patterns for human flourishing to our society and culture, and we assure them of our prayers and support as they do so.

We applaud their call and commitment for the church to be a welcoming community. We are grateful for the clear indication of agreement in the House that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged. We are encouraged that the Statement recognises the consistent teaching of Canon B30, the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship in this regard. We welcome the indication that clergy should not enter same-sex marriages and that those in same sex marriages cannot be ordained. We also welcome the advice that pastoral discussion with those entering same-sex marriage needs to include an exploration of the church's teaching and their reasons for departing from it.

At the same time as expressing our thanks, we wish to note the following concerns:

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Sir Joseph Pilling’s address to Synod

February 14th, 2014 Jill Posted in General Synod, Pilling Report Comments Off

Sir Joseph Pilling made a presentation to the Synod on the report from the House of Bishops’ Working Group (GS 1929).

The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, then spoke to the Synod about the process on the basis of the report.

Synod then asked questions to the process, which were answered by Bishop Steven Croft and Sir Joseph Pilling.

Listen here

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Synod Report: Highlights and Extracts

February 12th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

By Andrew Symes

Doxa Meeting: The implications of Pilling

The Evangelical Group of General Synod (EGGS) met on Monday evening after the first sessions of Synod, to air concerns about the current issues, and to pray. On Tuesday a lunchtime fringe meeting was hosted by Doxa, a broad conservative grouping, where at least 50 Synod members (including four Bishops) came to hear Professor Glynn Harrison and myself speak about the Pilling Report and its implications. Professor Harrison, a Psychiatrist and academic and long time Synod member, has written booklets and articles on the subject of homosexuality and the Christian faith. He focused on the forthcoming facilitated conversations, and pitfalls for the orthodox to avoid if they participate in them. For example, its important that the conversations are not convened in such a way as to pre-judge any particular outcomes. Above all, Harrison warned that orthodox participants are likely to be underprepared and therefore vulnerable. He commended the 'Living Out' website as a good example of conveying the Church's teaching through narrative and nuance.

My short presentation followed on from the issues raised in my article last week. The Pilling Report follows a manifesto for church growth which assumes that changing core doctrines, or at least being relaxed and non-dogmatic about doctrine and especially sexual ethics, will make it easier to promote Christian faith to the general public. The Bishops have admitted profound disagreement among themselves and in church and society at large on the subject of homosexual practice, and while they appeared to rule out support for gay marriage, they could only commit to a moratorium on blessing of same sex couples during the period of “conversation”. Our response as “confessing” Anglicans must be to be more proactive in teaching the “dissenting” but positive biblical view (after Bishop Sinclair’s statement) of marriage and sexuality, as many even in conservative congregations are no longer sure of the plausibility of this position. We must be clear on balancing clear biblical moral standards with compassionate and sensitive pastoral response to those struggling with sexual sin and especially singles and those with same sex attraction. We must name and face the “powers”, by identifying false philosophies and their inevitable results in society, and finding ways to oppose through spiritual warfare and strategic action in the public square. Finally, should we enter into the conversation? Not to negotiate on fundamentals, but perhaps once clear dividing lines have been identified, to talk about how to “walk apart” and what form that might take.

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Archbishop Welby’s Speech at Synod: Understanding the English

February 12th, 2014 Jill Posted in Archbishop Of Canterbury, General Synod Comments Off

By Matt Kennedy, Stand Firm

This speech by Justin Welby could have easily been given by Rowan Williams or, indeed, any number of revisionist Episcopalian bishops. It is, of course, about women bishops and how those who rightly oppose the move to make them ought to open themselves to the “perfect love” that casts out all that curmudgeonly concern for biblical fidelity which as we all know inhibits “human flourishing”. But this speech is not only about women bishops. The language he uses here is “precisely” the language he uses to push reconciliation with those leaders in the Communion who want to mainstream and bless homosexual behavior. This subtext breaks to the surface quite clearly in the paragraph below
“This sort of gracious reconciliation means that we have to create safe space within ourselves to disagree, as we began to do last summer at the Synod in York, and as we need to do over the issues arising out of our discussions on sexuality, not because the outcome is predetermined to be a wishy-washy one, but because the very process is a proclamation of the Gospel of unconditionally loving God who gives Himself for our sin and failure. It is incarnational in the best sense and leads to the need to bear our cross in the way we are commanded.”
Note here that Welby identifies the gospel with the “very process” of creating a “safe place” to disagree about human sexuality.
No. That is not the gospel. The gospel is the truth that God became Man to save sinners from the consequences of sin and its enslaving power. God did not become Man to make peace with those who lead people into sin. To those who do such things, quite contrary to the Archbishop’s claim, Jesus suggested millstones and deep lakes would be far more bearable compared to what he has planned for them apart from repentance.
Read here
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Archbishop’s Presidential Address to the General Synod

February 12th, 2014 Jill Posted in Archbishop Of Canterbury, Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the following Presidential Address to the General Synod on Wednesday 12 February 2014.

A trip to the South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Goma in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) brings home some pretty tough realities. Two of those areas are post conflict and two are current conflict. In them the issues which mesmerise me day by day vanish, and the extraordinary courage of the Church is brought afresh in front of my eyes. By the Church I don’t only mean the Bishops and the Archbishops, extraordinary as they are, but the whole Church, in the small villages where they have been raided, where sexual violence has been the norm, where unspeakable atrocities have been carried out and yet they still trust in God.

These are churches of courage, Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostal, other Protestant and many others. Of course of they are flawed, we are all, but it is their courage and faith that lives with me.

However, like all churches, including ourselves, they are part of the society in which they live. Societies in conflict are societies in fear. It is on that subject of fear that I want to reflect for a few minutes, not with reference so much to the international situation but to ourselves and the way we deal with ourselves and between ourselves.

Read here

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Church of England moves closer to a vote on women bishops – but it’s not over yet

February 12th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops Comments Off

By Penny Marshall, ITV News

Supporters of the idea are telling me that today's vote could mean that the Church of England could see women bishops by the end of the year.
And that is possible. Because what happened today – cutting the consultation period on the issue from six to three months – could pave the way for a straight 'yes or no' vote this July.
This could be followed by a new law in November, and the first women bishops as early as the new year.
But that's the reformers rather optimistic view. The more cautious view is that today was really a vote about when to have the big, decisive vote: today wasn’t the make or break moment that will make it a certainty.
Of course, the fact that the proposal was passed so strongly – by about 9 -1 in favour- will give hope to the reformers that any vote in the summer will be easily passed.
But there was still some disquiet about the compromise on offer for objectors and reformers, who have been waiting three decades for this already. They have come close before to see their hopes dashed – most notably 15 months ago at Synod.
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Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

February 11th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops Comments Off

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Church of England General Synod speeds ahead with women bishops after warning it has ‘overfished the shallow pond’ of male candidates for bishoprics and ‘urgently’ needs women to fill posts

The Church of England has overwhelmingly approved a fast-track scheme which could see its first women bishops appointed this year – after being told it has run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

The Church of England has overwhelmingly approved a fast-track scheme which could see its first women bishops appointed this year – after being told it has run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

Members of the Church’s decision-making General Synod voted by a margin of nine to one to suspend its normal rules to speed up the process of changing ecclesiastical law to admit women to the episcopate.

It came as one member of the Synod was applauded as he warned bluntly that it “urgently” needs to ordain its first women bishops because it has effectively run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

He said that, with a string of bishoprics already lying empty and a growing backlog of appointments to make, the “shallow pond” of suitable male candidates had already been “overfished”.

Read here

More details of today's vote on Thinking Anglicans

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Church of England General Synod

February 10th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

The Church of England General Synod meets for three days starting today.

Proceedings may be seen live from 2pm via this link.

Items on the agenda may be seen here

and heard on Soundcloud here

Read also:  Women bishops legislation dominates Church of England General Synod by Alice Collins, Christian Today

Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome by John Bingham, Telegraph

Report on Monday's business from the Church of England website

Tuesday's debates: Women in the Episcopate.  Morning's proceedings here, afternoon's here

Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon's proceedings

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Final hurdle for women bishops to overcome

February 9th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops Comments Off

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Church of England General Synod meets amid hopes of swift end to years of wrangling over women bishops – but row looms over the precise meaning of ‘trust’

Hopes of an end to the Church of England’s 40-year battle over women bishops could face a last-minute challenge this week amid wrangling over ordination services and an argument about the definition of a single word.

Members of the General Synod will gather in London tomorrow for a three-day meeting that should speed a historic change to ecclesiastical law through its main legislative stages.

If they succeed, the change could be given final approval as early as this summer. It could then receive Royal Assent in time for England’s first women bishops to be appointed before the end of this year.

But an influential group of traditionalists, who largely orchestrated the defeat of previous plans for women bishops, said behind-the scenes discussions had still failed to allay all of their concerns.

The Reform evangelical group, which is seen as representing the puritan tradition, believes that the Bible teaches that men should be “head” of the family and the Church.

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Poll: lack of trust in Synod

February 7th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

By Paul Handley, Church Times

FEWER than one quarter of respondents to the Church Times readership survey have confidence in the General Synod's leadership. In contrast, nearly three-quarters have confidence in the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Out of 4620 respondents, polled last summer and autumn, 73 per cent agreed with the statement "I have confidence in the leadership given by the Archbishop of Canterbury." Only seven per cent disagreed.

When it came to the General Synod, however, only 23 per cent agreed. Forty-one per cent were uncertain, and 37 per cent disagreed.

Readers were asked about other forms of leadership. The next most popular category was "My local clergy", approved by 69 per cent (71 per cent among lay respondents); then came "my diocesan bishop" (63 per cent). The Archbishops' Council scored 37 per cent. Nearly half those responding were unsure about it.

The survey also asked about lay involvement in leading services. There was widespread approval of lay people leading morning and evening prayer (91 per cent) and preaching at the (83 per cent); leading the first part of a communion service (70 per cent), and preaching at it (76 per cent).

The figures reversed, however, when it came to lay presidency at communion services. Overall, only 20 per cent approved; 68 per cent disagreed. Slightly more lay people were in favour (24 per cent). The clergy, however, were more strongly opposed: only 13 per cent were in favour; 79 per cent were against.

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Church growth – time to get serious

February 5th, 2014 Jill Posted in General Synod, Pilling Report Comments Off

By Andrew Symes

Next week at Synod a lunchtime fringe meeting will take place to address the Pilling Report and its aftermath. A reasonable number have booked in. At the same time another meeting will take place, with twice the number booked in, on the subject of Church Growth. Which one should evangelicals attend?

The two subjects are connected of course, and this is demonstrated clearly in a substantial report into church decline and growth which began in last week’s Church Times. Sociology of Religion expert Professor Linda Woodhead outlines the situation as she sees it: The Church of England is still significant in the nation, but Anglicans are getting old and dying out. Christianity and religion generally has shown a decline among young people, but there has been a more marked failure to specifically transmit Anglicanism to the next generation. Woodhead’s diagnosis is simple: religion has become a “toxic brand”, specifically because of perceived prejudice towards women and gay people.

Woodhead talks of a “values gap”, where society and the majority of Anglicans (who do not attend church) are increasingly right wing on socio-political issues but liberal on morality, while the official church teaching is the opposite. In fact, as Professor Robert Warner says in the same publication, people have “embraced a new morality and it is the church which is now considered immoral”. The majority of those who call themselves Christians take extramarital sex and gay marriage for granted, and support voluntary euthanasia and abortion. Warner sees this as evidence not of secularization (the removal of religion from culture), but the durability and adaptability of Christianity in the context of rapid paradigm shifts in social attitudes.

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Agenda for February General Synod

January 17th, 2014 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.00 pm on Monday 10th February until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The agenda for the meeting is published today. The main item of business will be the Revision Stage for the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. In an unusual move, this will be taken on the floor of the Synod without there having been a prior Revision Committee. There will also be three other debates as part of the women bishops process: on the Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure agreed by the House of Bishops in December; to initiate the process to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod; and to suspend part of the Standing Orders in order to accelerate the process for referring the legislation to the dioceses. These debates will take up much of Tuesday 11th February.

There will also be debates on Gender-Based Violence, the Girl Guides' Promise, the environment and fossil fuels and the use of vesture in Church services. The Group of Sessions will conclude with a presentation on the report from the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. A Diocesan Synod Motion from the Guildford Diocesan Synod on the Magna Carta is listed as Contingency Business.

Read here

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Homophobic bullying in the Church of England

November 23rd, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, Gay Activism, General Synod Comments Off

Hat Tip:  Thinking Anglicans

Questions about this were asked on Monday evening. This topic had also come up last July, and indeed the preceding November.
This time it went like this:
Question 57

Dr Rachel Jepson:
Which resources does the Board of Education recommend to be used with both staff and students in all Church of England schools to address LGBT bullying?
Bishop of Oxford: The Board does not generally recommend resources to schools except those produced by itself. In this case the Board is overseeing a project to produce materials for Church schools to help them to combat homophobic bullying within the framework of Christian values and belief. The project consultant is currently writing materials prior to their being piloted in schools over next term.
Dr Rachel Jepson: What is the timescale for the project to which you referred and who is the project consultant who is writing the materials and what is their relevant expertise, please?
Bishop of Oxford: We have gone to someone who has been deeply involved in producing material in a particular diocese, so we do know we’ve got someone of expertise there, she has that previous track record. Precisely what timescale is, and indeed the name of the person, has escaped me, but I’ll make sure that you know.
Mr Robin Hall: In his July presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury pledged to use – and I quote – the best advice we can find anywhere. As Stonewall is the leading charity committed to tackling homophobia, is the consultant working closely with Stonewall, to make the most of their experience and expertise?
Bishop of Oxford: Stonewall is indeed involved, as one of the consultants, and other organisations too, with a good track record in this field. We are committed to having the very best consultants and experience that we can get.
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Church of England approves female bishops plan

November 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

By Sam Jones, Guardian

General Synod votes in favour of proposals to bring women into episcopate by overwhelming majority

The Church of England is on course to give its final approval to female bishops next year after its General Synod voted in favour of new proposals to bring women into the episcopate, raising hopes of an end to the damaging and frequently bitter 20-year standoff between modernisers and traditionalists.

On the third and final day of its meeting in London, the synod voted in favour of the new plans by an overwhelming majority of 378 to eight, with 25 abstentions.

Proposing the new draft legislation, the bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, recognised that the synod had been given a "second bite of the cherry" but said that it had come a long way since last November, when the last moves to introduce female bishops fell.

He urged the synod to vote "as positively as it is able" for the proposals, adding: "People may have quibbles about various words and phrases within this statement of guiding principles, but I would ask you to remember that these are guiding principles, not holy writ nor a creedal statement."

Although the first speech from the floor noted that "history makes us naturally cautious about optimists who wave documents that offer peace in our time" – and a later one described the previous failure as "missionally disastrous" – it soon became apparent that a consensus had been reached and that many key former opponents from the conservative evangelical and Anglo-Catholic wings of the synod had come to accept the new plans.

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Church’s General Synod – what is it for?

November 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

By John Bingham, Telegraph

It might seem like a cross between a parish flower arranging committee and the Soviet politburo but the Church of England's General Synod has the power to make law in England

Members of the Church of England's General Synod like to have their cake and eat it.

During a lengthy – and ultimately unsuccessful – debate about an attempt to overhaul the way the Church's National Assembly operates on Tuesday, one member stood up to bemoan the fact that the BBC occasionally refers to the Synod as its 'parliament'.

But as any member of the 467-strong body will gladly point out, it is a legislature.

Its decisions – although requiring ratification from the real Parliament – ultimately become part of the law of the land and receive Royal Assent from the Queen in the same way as other Acts.

It has many of the trappings of Parliament: measures, amendments, points of order, legal officers, arcane procedures governing how long people can speak for, committees, its own acronyms and procedural jargon and even a tea room – although no bars or underground shooting gallery.

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Women bishops debate resumes at Church of England synod

November 20th, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops Comments Off

by Sam Jones, Guardian

The Church of England will return to the divisive issue of female bishops at its general synod on Wednesday amid growing hopes that an end to the two-decade-old impasse could finally be in sight.
The church has been under huge public and political pressure to allow women bishops since the synod rejected previous legislation by six votes almost exactly a year ago. Its failure to resolve the issue was described by the church's most senior civil servant as a "train crash", while David Cameron warned that the church needed "to get on with it".
Those in favour of bringing women into the episcopate are quietly confident the latest set of proposals will win favour at the synod and believe that some of the Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who opposed the previous attempt are now more open to finding a solution.
On Wednesday the synod will be asked to give first approval to plans produced by a steering committee of 15 that included five synod members who voted against last November's draft legislation.
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Today at Synod – Tuesday

November 20th, 2013 Chris Sugden Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

Today at Synod – Tuesday

The first two hours of synod today were spent in groups of around 15-20 people discussing the package of measures that have been presented with respect to women in the episcopate.

There is an almost universal consensus that the mood around this has changed significantly for the better.  People on all sides of the question are currently saying that while no viewpoint is entirely catered for, every group can see enough that they can live with and welcome in the package of proposals.   One reason I suggest for the change in mood is as Bishop Langstaff said on Monday night provision is being made for everyone.  All viewpoints on the issue are now recognized as being authentically Anglican and belonging in the comprehensive Church of England.

Some who were gravely disappointed twelve months ago are even saying that last November’s decision was the right thing to do and that now there is a recognition that all have a place. Others who voted against the legislation presented last November are saying that what is offered here is a significant improvement.

There remain issues to engage with.  The issue of jurisdiction was not discussed by the Steering Group because the vote in the July 2013 Synod did not opt for delegation of jurisdiction. But the scope of the ministry of those who male bishops who will minister to those who cannot accept women bishops is to be like that of suffragan bishops, which while undefined can be fairly extensive.

For some the issue of oaths of obedience to a woman bishop remain a problem. It may be that this is examined further but not as part of the decision whether to accept or reject the proposals.

It is likely that on Wednesday the synod will decide to move forward to the next stage of debating these initial proposals. The question is by how large a majority. That will signal whether the legislation will pass when it is brought for final approval which will require a two-thirds majority among bishops, clergy and lay people.

The Archbishop of York gave a presidential address highlighting some of the very disturbing statistics of poverty in England. For instance, people can now be in work and yet be in poverty. Leeds alone is estimated to have 27,000 malnourished people.  Prices are rising three times faster than wages. Read the rest of this entry »

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General Synod – Questions about the Pilling report

November 19th, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

The Very Revd Andrew Nunn (Southwark) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q39. When will the report of the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling be published?

Answer: Soon.

Mr Gerald O’Brien (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q40. Will the House of Bishops give Synod an assurance that when the Pilling Report is published, it will carry a suitably prominent statement to the effect that any proposals or recommendations the report contains are not the official position of the Church of England unless and until they are endorsed by a vote of the General Synod?

The Revd John Cook (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q41. Can the Synod be assured that, if the House of Bishops having considered the Pilling Report are minded to make any changes to the Church of England?s position on human sexuality, it will ensure Synod is given an opportunity to debate these matters before any changes are brought into effect?

The Revd Jonathan Frais (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q42. Given General Synod’s resolution of 1987 saying that adultery, fornication and homosexual acts are to be met with “a call to repentance”, what steps will be taken to make clear that the Pilling Report, when it is published, has not replaced this stance unless and until the General Synod itself so resolves?

Read here (pdf) (scroll down)


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Church Society prays for a mutually respectful way forward on women bishops

November 19th, 2013 Jill Posted in Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops Comments Off

From EV News

Church Society is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the evangelical and reformed foundations of our Anglican faith within the Church of England. We remain convinced that the best way forward on the issue of women bishops is one where those who are not persuaded from scripture of the necessity of the proposed changes continue to be able to flourish in the Church. We are therefore delighted that the new legislative proposals before General Synod this week do acknowledge that this view is “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion” and that for those who hold to the classic and historic view, “the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures.”

There are various issues that need to be ironed out in the new proposed legislation for this to be a truly credible and reliable statement, and for the gospel to flourish within the Church of England. Some helpful, positive steps have been taken, not least in developing a mandatory grievance procedure, though significant worries remain for those who are not content to acknowledge the spiritual oversight of women bishops in good conscience. Many also find it difficult to believe that their ministry is valued or encouraged when, unfortunately, there are currently no serving evangelical bishops who hold to the classic and historic teaching on this subject. We are also concerned that any new bishops should be orthodox and faithful to our Anglican formularies such as the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which officially and legally function as our doctrinal foundation and guide in ministry, and that trustworthiness here should be given a higher priority in selection criteria. Just as Her Majesty the Queen promised 60 years at her coronation to maintain and defend “the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion”, so also, we believe, should all our bishops.

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Today at Synod – Monday

November 19th, 2013 Chris Sugden Posted in Church of England, General Synod Comments Off

The opening day of General Synod saw new approaches to Synod’s way of doing things. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has asked for a continuous cycle of prayer while Synod is in session, based in the chapel of Church House where all are welcome, but also embracing Anglicans throughout the land to pray for Synod’s deliberations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury also gave his own report to Synod of his activity.  This can be read here.

He ranged over the murderous attacks in Peshawar and Nairobi and the suffering and courage of Christians in Nigeria.

He was surprised at the way the WCC meetings in Korea held together an extraordinary diversity of people united by the love of Jesus Christ. He announced that from January  a Catholic order with an ecumenical and teaching vocation will be created, initially with four members, at Lambeth.

Of his visit to GAFCON2013 he said: “I had the opportunity to benefit from meeting a number of primates who had arrived for it. This was a great pleasure, and, as always, an education. As leader of GAFCON Archbishop Wabukala was as gracious as could have been wished. There were naturally, as you may have noticed, different views expressed about different aspects of the Anglican Communion while I was in Nairobi and subsequently, including views about me, it has to be said not invariably warm and cuddly, but I was genuinely most glad to have had the opportunity to meet, and I have to say that the overwhelming response was not only kind but also deeply encouraging.”

Archbishop Sentamu introduced a debate on Intentional Evangelism (Read his speech here) Read the rest of this entry »

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