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Monday, 30 December 2013

First things first!


Darkness in Llandaff Cathedral                                                                                           Picture: BBC

Being in Wales over Christmas I picked up 'the news where you are' as the BBC's gesticulating George likes to put it after his six o'clock news show. Included in the Welsh News bulletin was an interview with the Archbishop of Wales. (Clip here.) He was asked what the highlights for the church were in 2013. Revealing the obsession that has consumed him the archbishop said: For the Church in Wales obviously it's the bill to make it possible for women to be ordained as bishops but many had "missed the point" adding "The fact is that what the bill made possible was that at least women could be considered as candidates for the episcopate, and that's the really important thing. The rest will come later - who knows when?"

The 'many' will have missed the real point because they have been led astray by Dr Morgan and others like him who busy themselves trying to make the Church 'intelligible to our wider society'. The episcopate is not a political club in which local rules may be applied. Scripture and tradition have sustained the Church for two thousand years. Christians around the world, including most Anglicans, continue to practice their faith as it has been received but for others practicing their faith has become a challenge because politicians in clerical garb have substituted politics for religion to the detriment of the Church.

When I started this blog I had no idea where it would lead but four years later of the 677 entries the most hits have, with a couple of exceptions*, centred on the tribulations of the Church of Wales and the Diocese of Llandaff in particular. The 'All time' top 10 posts in descending order are:

The twilight of the cross 21 Oct 2011*
Morgan's organ 5 Nov 2013, 66 comments
The ruin of Landaft 23 Nov 2013, 56 comments
Swan song? If only... 14 Nov 2013, 19 comments
Dean of Llandaff resigns 9 May 2013, 10 comments
Starbucks service 15 Sep 2013, 40 comments
'Archbishop invalidates Cath... 19 Nov 2011,  2 comments
Llandaff Cathedral bucking a trend 21 Dec 2013, 21 comments
"The thing that you will do - do it quickly." 20 Nov 2013, 23 comments*
The Dean of Llandaff resignation saga 21 May 2013, 14 comments

Nine months after my first post the very popular Llandaffchester Chronicles blog disappeared after irritating the Welsh church establishment. Although satirical it must have been too close to the bone. It is obvious now that trouble was brewing. If only the warnings had been heeded Llandaff may not have found itself in the mess that it is. To put this in proportion, the whole Province of Wales is about the size of the Diocese of Oxford in the Church of England yet has six diocesan bishops and an Ass Bishop to serve just 1% of the 3 million population of Wales in 2011 and declining. So what is the problem?

The common factor is the Archbishop of Wales whose own Cathedral is, as one commentator put it, "becoming a laughing stock". Compare the obvious professionalism of the Diocese of St Davids here and here with Llandaff here and here which is riven by conflicting interests, something which Dr Morgan comments on but exacerbates rather than heals. The Anglican Church is beset by conflicting views about the ordination of women but the process of reception was supposed to have have been one of mutual respect. That is visible in St Davids, why not in Llandaff?

For the Church in Wales it is not the bill to make it possible for women to be ordained as bishops which should be highlighted in the Church of Wales in 2013 but the apparent disintegration of Llandaff Cathedral under the supposed care of the Church in Wales' chief pastor, Dr Barry Morgan, the Bishop of Llandaff. That is why his Cathedral and its congregation are of the utmost interest to readers of this blog. They deserve our prayers.

LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord;
 and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night;
 for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Thomasina the Tank Engine




Two years ago I blogged on Political correctness gone mad following a report in the Telegraph that the television company which was recording new adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine was re-branding Christmas as "the holidays" to comply with “politically correct” thinking.

In this holiday season of Christmas there has been another poke at poor little Thomas, this time by Labour minister Mary Creagh who attacks Thomas the Tank Engine over the lack of female characters. There is little I can add to some excellent comments which follow the report here.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

For unto us a Child is born...the Prince of Peace


The Adoration of the Shepherds c.1505  Giorgione


Royal pardon for codebreaker Alan Turing




Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon.

This is a wonderful Christmas present for campaigners here and here. Our thanks to Justice Minister Chris Grayling for his initiative. Happy Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2013

M&S, the CofE and anti-Christian persecution


What an utter mess the Church of England is in. Seeing how M&S shot itself in the foot over its policy, since denied, of allowing Muslims to treat customers as they pleased, the dear old CofE, according to Cranmer, decided to tweet its commendation to M&S for "making reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs of their workers". That is, Muslim workers of course, a minority who demand and receive special privileges for their faith regardless of the effect on others having chosen to live in what is for now, still a Christian country despite the best efforts of liberal Anglicans.

Being a Christian entitles you to have your face slapped on both cheeks as the Christian B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull found to their considerable cost after a same sex couple challenged their right to refuse them a double room because they were not a heterosexual married couple. Bad news too for Registrars who believe in traditional marriage. They will be forced to conduct gay weddings against their will or lose their jobs. Given decisions such as these one would have thought that the CofE would have viewed the M&S "accommodation" in a different light but no.

It is clear from the Pilling Report that the CofE is digging itself into a bigger hole day by day but they don't stop digging. As the Rev Peter Owen Jones illustrates, things are not what they were in the Church of England. In the nineteenth century another priest, Fr Arthur Tooth, was sent to prison for defending the right to use Eucharistic vestments in the Church of England (here). Now, according to the Mail here: "Rules requiring the clergy to don traditional vestments are set to be swept aside as part of a ‘makeover’ designed to make services more relevant to modern congregations. It just doesn't seem to occur to trendies that relevance to the High Street is not what drew people to church. It was the other worldliness.

For many Christians it is not a case of the stupidity revealed above but of life or death, for too many, the latter. The shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander has added his plea to the voice of the Prince of Wales (here) warning that the mounting persecution of Christians is a “story that goes largely untold”. He says that public figures have allowed “political correctness” to prevent them talking about faith and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

On its lunch time TV news bulletin today the BBC has a report from Orla Guerin in Cairo about Lives of fear for Egypt's Christians. The burnt churches, kidnappings and killings in Egypt were the "work of a minority" said a Coptic priest. But that is all it takes!

Perhaps the M&S Christmas shopping episode and the reaction of the Church of England will finally result in a reality check for Christians in Britain before all is lost.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Llandaff Cathedral bucking a trend


Llandaff Cathedral with the Archbishop of Wales (also Bishop of Llandaff), Archdeacon of Llandaff and the still vacant Deanery


Among the dismal, declining attendance figures in the Church of England (CofE) there has been a ray of hope where cathedrals have bucked the trend with an increase in attendance over the last decade although the CofE report cautions that "almost all the increase in attendance in the past decade is due to increased midweek attendance rising from 8,900 in 2002 to 16,800 in 2012". Nevertheless there is a glimmer of hope amidst the gloom; analysis here.

Not so in Wales where Llandaff Cathedral has bucked the trend but in the opposite direction. As predicted, seven professional members of Llandaff Cathedral choir have lost their jobs in a bid to save £45,000 as part of the cost-cutting measures to reduce the £81,000 deficit. Having a mathematician in the Deanery and a chartered accountant in the Archdeaconry may have aided the cathedral's acquisition of a magnificent £1.5 million organ but has resulted in a severely depleted choir which it accompanies. Story here with comments from 'Let nothing you dismay' here.

Much has been made in news items about the timing of the sackings but should anyone be surprised? After all the Archbishop believes that the church should reflect society where sackings in time for Christmas are not uncommon. But why the choir? Take a look at the diocesan information page which lists personnel including an Archbishop, an Ass Bishop, three Archdeacons and 28 others in support excluding a Dean. - Apparently nobody wants the job and who could blame them.

According to published figures the minimum figure for stipends for three Archdeacons is over £101,000, while the Archbishop receives (minimum figures) of £44,254 and the Ass Bishop £37,616. When the Church in Wales Archiepiscopal See Working Group looked at stipends in 2006 an Ass Bishop's stipend was £31,079 but the total cost including employers NI and pension contributions and secretarial support was £58,246. If this figure is uprated by the same movement in the Ass Bishop's stipend that is around £65,000 today plus significant housing costs. The absence of a Dean, covered first by the Archbishop and then by the Archdeacon, shows that there is spare capacity at the Cathedral where savings could be made among senior staff and most probably in the supporting structure so why sacrifice the choir in what Dr Morgan described as "the diocesan church par excellence"?

Last Sunday the Archbishop preached, somewhat nervously I thought, at a service in Swansea which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4' Sunday Worship. His subject, The Coming of Christ as Judge which may explain his delivery. As usual he managed to insert 'gender' into his Address: "And Jesus’ whole life was spent ministering to those on the margins of His society because of their gender, occupation, race or illness." If only Jesus had completed His work by appointing women Apostles and handing the keys of heaven to one of them the Archbishop would not have such an onerous task convincing people that the Church has been wrong for 2,000 years.

Instead Dr Morgan and others like him have been able to carve out careers for themselves doing what Christ did not do. The consequences are plain for all to see.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The other cheek


Al Mahdi Centre, Wessex
 A few days ago a story from the Ahlulbayt News Agency crossed my desk. It referred to an event back in September when the Bishop of Portsmouth along with numerous other clerics visited the Al Mahdi Center in Wessex where verses from "the Noble Qur’an" were recited before Bishop Christopher blessed the community and the centre. Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo said: “This was a unique opportunity for Wessex Jamaat to build on our past achievements of having such cordial relations with the Portsmouth Cathedral and the Diocese of Portsmouth.  We have an obligation as members of the ummah to share the gift of Islam and the teachings of the Ahlulbayt A.S and this is done through the injunction in the Quran by way of wisdom, fair exhortation and reason."


Sadad, Syria


The news from Syria has not been so cordial and the 'gift of Islam' less welcome with the headline, "Devastating Images & Report from the Christian Town of Sadad in Syria":
These events which happened in Sadad are considered "the greatest massacre of Christians in Syria, and is second in the whole Middle East region after the bombing of Our Lady of the Salvation Church in Iraq, in the same month, and almost the same day in 2010". -Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, story here.



In Syria, Egypt and indeed around the world, approximately 100 million Christians are being persecuted for being Christians. While Christians are expected to turn the other cheek Muslims simply turn the page to show that under "the Noble Qur’an", Islam is a religion of peace while omitting to mention that 'peaceful' verses are abrogated by more sinister verses, examples here. Turning the other  cheek does not mean that we should submit or die. It means that we should set our faces against tyranny rather than encourage its growth by allowing it to spread as some sort of benign ideology when all the evidence is to the contrary.

For too long the West has been in denial. The Prince of Wales has added his voice to those calling for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East after a group of Syrians living in London begged him  to intervene in the conflict in their homeland.

Today the guilty verdict was delivered following the Lee Rigby murder trial in which the perpetrators claimed to be "soldiers of Allah" and the killing "an act of war". For their barbarism they expected to be martyrs claiming their rewards in paradise. That is their 'religion'! Many Muslims will distance themselves from this obscene act of faith but that is what Islam is capable of inspiring however much apologists protest. Not all do the smiting but the effect is the same. The West cannot afford to ignore the problem any longer.

Monday, 16 December 2013

When we have women bishops, then what?


Photo: The Telegraph


"The process to appoint the 79th bishop [of Bath and Wells] has taken far longer than normal, leading to speculation that the diocese was holding out to approve women bishops – one of the main topics for debate within the Church, where the change is widely approved in the top tiers, but held back by the laity in the Synod." - Western Daily Press. Full story here and in the Church Times here.

In an interview on Radio Somerset, the Bishop-designate, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock  said the Church has “made a very clear decision” on women bishops, and “it is not a matter of ‘should we’ or ‘will we’, but ‘when will we’. I am very confident it will not be long until the first woman bishop is consecrated.

Bishop Hancock is correct but only partially. The 'Church' he speaks of is not the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church but a little part of it which has placed synodical governance above faith.

This obsession with women bishops is not only tiresome, it is contributing to the death of  Anglicanism.  A couple of weeks ago the Ledbury Reporter reported:
"Hereford diocese has been ‘timed out’ of a chance to make history by having the Church of England’s first women bishop. The Diocese confirmed this week that its new bishop will not be a woman – despite the diocese having the highest percentage of women priests in the Church of England. Just one church in the diocese still holds out against women clergy, but its stance is acknowledged by the diocese as 'softening'."

Now divorced from the historic faith of the Church, the Church of England has become obsessed with being seen as an equal opportunities employer with senior staff basing their notion of ministry on a perceived need for change to accord with current whim rather than on the testament of history.

So what will be left when the battle is done and we have women bishops? It will be too late to return to traditional beliefs. Ambitious candidates will no longer be able to wear a badge on their sleeves proclaiming their submission; bishops who have ached for the day when women are 'treated equally' will be left without a cause and become superfluous to women who will have achieved their objective. Male allies will become the foe. The push for equality will become the push for parity with the ultimate aim of female archbishops. Then what? 

Enjoy the moment guys!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Church of England should abandon religion and become a political party.


Photo: Guardian


"The Church of England should abandon religion and become a political party." That is the conclusion drawn from YouGov’s latest poll for Prospect magazine here (£):

"Back in 1957, Gallup asked people a range of questions about their faith. They found that most people were Christians who regarded Jesus Christ as the son of God. Most people drew a clear distinction between religion and politics and wanted religious leaders to worry about our souls, but not about government policy.

Half a century later, YouGov has repeated Gallup’s questions and discovered a precipitous decline in religious belief. The decline in church attendance reflects more than a stay-at-home culture dominated by television and computer technology. It flows from a collapse of faith in the central tenets of Christianity."

Of those questioned 60% believe in the theory of evolution and natural selection while only 8% believe biblical explanations of life on earth. More worrying for the Church, only 26% believe that the Bible's account of the resurrection is broadly right with 48% not believing this happened. Perhaps this is to be expected when trendy clergy express a similar view ignoring, or in ignorance of, what St. Paul had to say: 

"If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.... But, in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead" (1 Cor 15:14, 20).

Something else for the enhanced House of Bishops to ponder.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The beginning of the end?


Back Row l-r: the Venerable Christine Wilson, the Venerable Nicola Sullivan, the Venerable Annette
 Cooper, the Venerable Joanne Grenfell Front row l-r: The Reverend Libby Lane, the Reverend Jane
Tillier,  the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, the Venerable Christine Wilson.     Photo: Christian Today

From Christian Today (9 December 2013):

"Eight women were today welcomed as participant observers at the meetings of the House of Bishops of the Church of England. The women come from across England and have been given the right to attend and speak at meetings until there are six female members of the House of Bishops following the admission of women to the episcopate. They took up their role on 1 December and the meeting of the House of Bishops in York today and tomorrow is the first meeting they have attended". Details here.

In an exceptional display of submission the House of Bishops of the Church of England decided to use the backdoor to "soothe the anger" of women whose demands to be bishops had been rejected under the accepted procedure. In anticipation of their foregone conclusion, they decided earlier this year to allow senior female clergy to attend and speak at their meetings until women are legally permitted to become bishops.

If we are to believe feminist propaganda that the refusal to ordain women has been responsible for all their oppression around the world, all oppression should cease in recognition of their new found status, but don't bank on it.

Meanwhile, MPs were told last week that “the persecution of Christians is increasing, that one Christian is killed around every 11 minutes around the world, and that Christianity is the 'most persecuted religion globally'.” That means 47,782 persecuted Christians are killed every year or around half a million in a decade, half the number of approximately one million who participate in Church of England services each Sunday.

Read about it here. If the report comes as a bit of a shock, other issues such as the Pilling Report have captured the attention of the media dealing as it does with the more pressing issue of the liberal establishment trying to satisfy the carnal desires of a minority in a Church charged with spreading the Gospel as received.

The House of Bishops no longer sees it that way. Composed mainly of like minded bishops sharing the liberal values which put them where they are, they now regard the Church of England as the lapdog of society, reflecting the will of the people, few of whom ever enter the house of God and those who do often hear a perverted version of the Gospel.

Following an earlier entry on the Pilling Report I was taken to task for linking sexuality with the ordination of women. I was not alone in doing so. Read here how the briefly Dean of Llandaff saw it but from an entirely different perspective, that of feminist theology. The Dean was just one of the many placements in the Church in Wales used to pave the way for the acceptance of women bishops, a strategy which used religion as a platform for a feminist ideology which resulted in liberal minded clerics vying with each other so as to appear more open minded but having no regard for the consequences other than self advancement. 

The strategy has been a disaster in Wales. Aging congregations are declining at such a rate, here and here, suggesting that a separate Church in Wales will be untenable in the foreseeable future. The Church of England is on the same course. Archbishop George Carey has predicted that the Church of England could be extinct in a generation, a suggestion echoed by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, here. Women bishops and gay marriage now dominate the agenda. That may strike a chord with society but it is not the way of the Church. Wales has paid the price. By embarking on a similar path England looks set to share the same fate. 

Postscript
Meeting report here.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Uncomfortable and unwelcome!




The Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan has attracted the admiration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community for his enthusiastic support of their cause. See here and here. A patron of Changing Attitude, when Government proposals for same-sex marriage were being debated he expressed his concern about the welfare of gay people whom he "feared could feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in churches". He said "Christians need to show how the Gospel of Jesus is good news for gay people". Actually the Gospel of Jesus is good news for all people. Gays have no need of a 'marriage' ceremony to prove the point.

The Archbishop has gone out of his way to ensure that this at least is one charge which cannot be leveled against him. A keen supporter of the Cardiff Mardi Gras earlier this year, he will be joining lesbian and gay Christians for a carol service tomorrow, Saturday 7 December, organised by the South Wales Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM).

Within his own diocese the Archbishop is surrounded by members of the LGBT community so one has to wonder why the South Wales LGCM need to gather together for an exclusive carol service. If the body is to be separated why not a service for the disaffected in Llandaff Cathedral followed by a show of hands indicating how uncomfortable and unwelcome they feel under current management?

From a provincial press release here:

Janet Jeffries, spokesperson for LGCM, said, “We are very honoured that the Archbishop has agreed to attend our Christmas Carols at what must be a very busy time of year for him.  We very much appreciate the support he has shown to the lesbian and gay community, both at this event and by opening the Cardiff Mardi Gras earlier this year.”

Archbishop Barry said, “I am delighted to support this carol service. Christmas is a time when we remember that God made all people in his own image and loves us all. Christ was born in a stable to parents who were refugees and he spent his life with those on the fringes of society or who were victimised because of what they were, and challenging those in authority. I think this is still a relevant message for today.”

Ms Jeffries is right. It is a busy time of year for the Archbishop but for all the wrong reasons. Unable to find a new Dean with his Cathedral deep in debt and morale at rock bottom, he spends a disproportionate amount of time satisfying the demands of the queer community - I use the word advisedly since I am reliably informed that in today's lingo, gay means rubbish. But what I find most intriguing is the Archbishop's reference to "challenging those in authority". He says  "I think this is still a relevant message for today."

Reading the many comments following recent blog entries it is clear that the Archbishop needs to heed his own advice.

Nelson Mandela RIP



Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The blind leading the blind


"Parable of the Blind" (1568)                                                                                      Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525-1569)


I have been intrigued by some comments in the press lately. A local rag here bemoans the fact that "the Hereford diocese has been ‘timed out’ of a chance to make history by having the Church of England’s first women [sic] bishop". But as the Ilkley Gazette points out, "Women are moving a step closer to becoming bishops", as if that is all that matters. In Wales there is a new urgency to win the race after the decision that women can be ordained as bishops in Wales.

There is no sense that a Holy and Godly person will stem the flow of people leaving the Church in droves. Simply that the first woman bishop may be appointed here or there. 'Where' doesn't matter so long as the genitalia fit.

When it comes to genitalia the new Chairman of WATCH sums the new awareness that has eluded two thousand years of saints and sinners:

 ...we need to continue to challenge and move beyond the patriarchal model on which the Church of England is built.
How we do that, and what the next steps are, is to some extent down to you, the membership, and what you want WATCH to do.
My personal driver for this is that I have had enough of an almost exclusively male God, in our prayers, hymns, speech and images.
I’m not suggesting another campaign – that really would be madness, since many within the Church of England would currently consider calling God ‘she’ really weird. - Hilary Cotton, Chair[man] of WATCH.

The bishops of the Church of England are staggering towards the pit driven by the nerd herd instinct which prevents them from thinking rationally. If they could stop and ask themselves what is the effect of womyn in the church (WITCH) they would see that it has been a disaster. Far from the pews being filled they are being emptied but the bishops haven't Cottoned on to the blindingly obvious so they appoint more blind guides to swell their numbers.

Will there be anyone left to hear their cries for help from the pit? That depends on whether they genuinely wish to maintain the "highest possible degree of communion which contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England". Let us pray!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Pilling: It's all about Eve




It is ten years since Michael Kalmuk and his long-time partner Kelly Montfort recited their solemn Anglican vows that would bless their relationship in what was described as the World's first "official" Anglican same-sex blessing. They had been together for twenty-one years and spent much of their careers working with people with disabilities. Story here.

Unless one is homophobic it is difficult not to be touched by such a story but the Rev. Margaret Marquardt who conducted the ceremony said in her homily that it amounted to "an act of healing for gay and lesbian people throughout the Anglican church"! In another report here she is quoted as saying said that it was an affirmation of "God's presence" in the couple's relationship, making one wonder if she was familiar with the Bible or simply chose passages to re-interpret Holy Scripture  according to her will, now common practice in liberal Anglicanism. 

A similar story can be read in the report of House of Bishops Working Group on human sexuality, the Pilling Report, where natural sympathy leads to the wrong conclusion that members of the clergy should be allowed to offer blessings to same-sex couples (summary here). Another of the report's recommendations is that The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people. This it seems to me is the main thrust of the report. God loves all, we have been beastly to gays so same-sex unions should be blessed by the Church as an act of repentance. This conclusion ignores biblical facts but there was not unanimity. The report includes a dissenting statement by the Bishop of Birkenhead who said that he was "not persuaded that the biblical witness on same sex sexual behaviour is unclear". It is true that gays have been treated badly in society but I have not witnessed the reported lack of welcome and acceptance in the Church and don't know of anyone who does, quite the contrary.

The item in the report which I find most illuminating is the advice given by a female 'expert' which so baffled the Review Group that it is included as a separate Prologue "Living with holiness and desire". As Pilling remarks in his Forward, "One of our advisers, [the Rev Dr] Jessica Martin, challenged us to think about human sexuality more widely than most of our evidence was leading us to do. We asked her to write a paper which now forms the prologue to the report. We wanted to give others a chance to read it and reflect on it and we feared that, if we tried to integrate it into the main body of the report, much would be lost."

After her opening statement "Desire begins and ends with God", implying that its all His fault, the Rev Dr waffles on page after page implicating St Augustine of Hippo in the process before her aim is made apparent in the final sentence: "In Christ all things may be made new, every failure may be made the occasion of a generous forgiveness", or to put it another way as Pilling does, to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people, ergo, same-sex blessings!

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) welcomed the Pilling recommendations as "a small step of the Church of England towards greater inclusion but urges them to continue this work to enable the church to witness effectively to God’s love for all", echoing the Prologue message, God loves us, so what the hell!

Speaking on behalf of the Inclusive Church we have another female cleric, the Very Rev’d Dianna Gwilliams, Dean of Guildford Cathedral and Chair of Inclusive Church who says: "We hope that this will enable all Christians to find ways of celebrating the covenantal love between people which reflects the love of God for all people."

The House of Bishops has become incapable of coming to any conclusion without using women to do their thinking for them but only women who represent the old Eve. Women in the image of Mary, the new Eve, who gave us the Church in the Body of Christ have no say. Accordingly, even when it is absolutely clear that marriage is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and that Christ deliberately chose men, not women, to be his Apostles, they work their way around these awkward facts by spinning a yarn about inequality which, if true, must have been what Christ intended. But He saw no inequality, only difference.

The process which gave us women deacons and priests, soon to be women bishops, is being repeated. Not quite as grand as Charles and Camilla but gay couples will be able to get married in a Registry Office before their grand Church service which will appear to be a marriage ceremony. That is a very small step from an actual marriage ceremony, just as women claimed it was only a few words separating deacons from priests.

Shortly after the World's first "official" Anglican same-sex blessing took place, an article in Orthodoxy Today was published under the heading 'Thoughts on Women's Ordination'. One sentence particularly stands out: "Virtually every Protestant group that has decided to ordain women has to one degree or another begun to reject Biblical language and images of God in favor of images more acceptable to feminist theology." Pilling it seems is no exception.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Church in Wales: Code of Practice


Governing Body members vote in favour of ordaining women as bishops       Photo: Church in Wales


The Bill proposed by the bishops of the Church in Wales to enable women to be consecrated as bishops was successfully amended by the  Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven Peggy Jackson, and the Reverend Canon Jenny Wigley. Their amendment substituted a voluntary code of practice for the statutory provisions contained in the bishops' bill. Details can be found here along with the Select Committee's recommendations.

Appendix 2 to the May 2013 Report of the Select Committee includes an Explanatory Note to the Jackson/Wigley amendment (Amendment 3):

Our amendment seeks to reflect the overwhelming view of Governing Body members (as expressed in questionnaire responses in 2012), that:- 
 a) there should be provision for women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church in Wales, 
 b) there should be recognition and provision allowed for those who in individual conscience dissent from this move, 
while also keeping faith with other aims, as expressed:- 
 a) in 2008 – that provisions for conscience should not be included in the body of  formal legislation, 
 b) in 2012 – that legislation should not include structural provision to accommodate dissent.

The resulting vote did reflect "the overwhelming view of Governing Body" which, judging by the "huge cheers" that followed, must have been made up largely of like-minded supporters. By contrast the result of the vote against women bishops in the Church of England last November was received in dignified silence. There were no celebratory outbursts but complaints followed alleging that the Synod vote did not represent the will of the Church. It did but not part of it - the Church of England. Nevertheless a campaign was launched to set aside the rules and fast track legislation which included a process of facilitated discussion and reconciliation. This process should provide a model for the Church in Wales to restore the trust that has been lost.

After the Governing Body vote the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “While we, as bishops, welcome the decision that women can now be ordained as bishops in Wales, we recognise that there are some people who do not. We want to make sure that adequate provision is made for them so that they will still feel valued and accepted in the Church and will continue to worship and minister alongside us.  We have been entrusted to draw up a Code of Practice within a year and we are keen to consult as widely as possible with church members in order to reflect their views as best we can.”

The Church in Wales suffers from a lingering problem. Those with conscientious objections to the decision to ordain women no longer "feel accepted and valued within the Church". The lack of trust caused by the decision of the Bench of Bishops not to replace the Provincial Assistant Bishop has to be addressed if "adequate provision" is to have any meaning.


On the face of it the Church in Wales made its position clear in a press release hereAs part of the legislation passed, the Bishops are required to draw up a Code of Practice to ensure all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections to the decision, continued to feel accepted and valued within the Church. [My emphasis - Ed.]

The Jackson/Wigley duo explain their amendment as follows:
Our amendment seeks explicitly to restore the relationship of Trust between the body of the Church in Wales and the Bench of Bishops, and to reassert the desire for this trust to lie at the heart of the bishops’ ministry and their role as a focus for unity.
Our amendment would bring Church in Wales legislation more closely into line with other churches in the Anglican Communion who have passed legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops - in particular the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland. In none other of the churches of the Anglican Communion so far has provision been made for conscientious dissent in legislation, but only in Codes of Practice. We do not believe that Wales should be the one to set a new precedent on this matter. 

Wales need not be alone. The bishop's role as a focus for unity has suffered badly in Wales while the Church of England, of which Wales was part until disestablishment, has avoided the problem through the ministry of Provincial Episcopal Visitors, a ministry retained under a code of practice based on guiding principles which are to be read together in a spirit of "Simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality" (GS 1924) here:

 Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to 
acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the 
matter; 

 Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, 
including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those 
provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as 
priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear 
decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of 
discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God; 

 Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological 
conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests 
continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican 
Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to 
flourish within its life and structures; and 

 Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of 
England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that 
maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to 
mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

The expressed intention of the Jackson/Wigley amendment was "to bring Church in Wales legislation more closely into line with other churches in the Anglican Communion who have passed legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops". In the Church of England, "pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority designed to maintain the highest possible degree of communion and contribute to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England" is an essential part of the new deal. Members of the Church in Wales deserve nothing less. The Church in Wales has 'simplicity' in its legislation. Now it needs 'reciprocity and mutuality' in its application to allow mutual flourishing if the bishops are to regain their credibility.

If the challenge is beyond the Bench permission must be granted and arrangements made for bishops to cross borders in the new spirit of church unity. That at least will ensure that all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections, feel accepted and valued again.

Written submissions have been invited and should be sent to the Provincial Secretary at 39 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9XF, or to julianluke@churchinwales.org.uk before 31 December 2013.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The ruin of Landaft


Formerly the responsibility of a long defunct, non-representative body of the Church in Wales this lovely old building was allowed to fall into decay while those charged with her care busied themselves with worldly matters. The ruin is said to be haunted by Clarissa, a financial wizard taken in by its dark master, Bazzer. Some claim to have seen her ghostly apparition haunting the decaying building looking for the elusive pointed hat denied her in office despite doing all her master's bidding.

It was impossible to find buyers for the beautiful works of art it housed before the cathedral crumbled because people were no longer interested in religious artifacts after the church became a mirror of society, the only success achieved by His Darkness before his forced retirement a generation ago.

Plagued by rumours of financial irregularities and nepotism among those charged with ensuring that there was no church impropriety, the congregation just faded away because nobody heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Bastineau  23 November, 2043

Friday, 22 November 2013

They just don't get it


Pic: Fr Ray Blake's Blog


I thought I was beyond shock in the woman bishop campaign until I read the article in the London Evening Standard here under the headline "Women bishops debate reaches the royal family".

Admittedly a minor Royal, nevertheless the implication of royal approval is clear but how crass. Julia Ogilvy, daughter-in-law of Princess Alexandra of Kent,  has "taken up the cudgels by interviewing 12 female Christian theologians for Women in Waiting, to be published by Bloomsbury in March". She writes:

My experience in marriage and business is that women and men work very well together and I am equally passionate that women have the ability to transform organisations like the Church,” ... “I am not an academic theologian but I am a Christian called to love my neighbour, whoever that might be” ... “So often women apologise for having a passion for something or for sounding too ambitious when that would be so normal for a man in the same situation.”

These are her 12 female "Christian theologians": Lucy Winkett, Sheila Watson, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Vivienne Faull, Elaine Storkey, Jane Williams (wife of Rowan), Sarah Coakley, Alison Elliott, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Chilton Knudsen and Helena Kennedy.  

I don't know what criteria were used to draw up this list but any list that includes Katharine Jefferts Schori must be suspect from the outset unless it is a list of women who have brought the Anglican Church to her knees. 

Women deserve success based on merit, the same as men in secular employment, but the priesthood is not a secular job to be filled using secular criteria. There are many women of outstanding ability, a fact illustrated daily through the medium of television but that is no reason for admitting them to the priesthood. The Church is not society yet encouraged by the buffoon Baldry, see here and here (Q3 Col 1225), Dave cannot wait to see women bishops in parliament, not for their contribution to debates but simply because they are women bishops, another feather in his cap to add to his same-sex marriage trophy. That is the whole basis of the women bishops movement. It is another 'want', a fact well illustrated in another article for the Telegraph here under the headline "Women bishops: Today I'm proud to be a member of the Church of England".

Jemima Thackray roars off with:
"Today I am proud to be part of the Church of England. I don’t care what former Archbishop Lord Carey said this week about the church ‘being extinct in one generation’. I don’t care what kind of negative spin some parts of press will inevitably put on today’s vote in favour of new proposals on women bishops. I don’t even care that these proposals are potentially unworkable in practise. I can still say that today I’m proud to be an Anglican". What Lord Carey had said was that 'the Church of England will be extinct in one generation'.

If Ms Thackray doesn't care that the church of England" will be extinct in one generation many do, including all those women who despair at the ignorance, or is it deceit, of those who claim to speak for them. Last year after the women bishops legislation failed under the agreed procedures there was another headline on the Virtueonline blog here, "UK: Half of women bishops opponents in Synod were women". They were pilloried for their actions because their beliefs did not fit in with modern, secular norms. Why should they? They understand Christ's message. The others don't get it but we all are having to pay the price of their ignorance - or of their deceit. No matter if the church fails, some will have pointed hats to keep as souvenirs.

For women and men who do care I have just received an encouraging letter from The Society. Check here and keep the faith.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

"The thing that you will do - do it quickly."


The Archbishops of York and Canterbury during the General Synod                 Photo: Getty Images


Twelve months ago at Synod there were no smiles. Today it was different. It is now full steam ahead. It is fast track to women bishops in the Church of England. Reports here and here.

Christ does not come into it. It is all about (some) Women and the Church who are not shy of using half truths for their own gain. From The Tablet: "Canon Rosie Harper, who supports women bishops, said: “Pope Francis has got it – he’s stopped judging people and started loving them, and Catholic church attendance is rising. Stop being weird and vote yes." Not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, simply economical with the truth and there will be much more to come, including untruths. 

The Catholic church along with the Orthodox church has warned the Church of England that what they are doing is wrong because "the church has no authority to ordain women, and this view must be held by all as a definitive belief" Pope John Paul II (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis), a fact confirmed by his successors. Pope Francis went further. He calls church careerism a 'leprosy' on the priesthood. 

But bravo Susie Leafe of the conservative group Reform who said that she could not in good conscience support the new legislation because she believed that she and other congregations could not flourish under a woman leader. Integrity is not dead.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sell out?


Photo: Getty Images


There is something about this image that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Perhaps it is because a person is the focus of attention. It has been used many times to illustrate articles about the ordination of women, most recently here under the heading 'The Church of England is on the brink of resolving its 13-year battle to introduce women bishops'. As the Telegraph puts it: "Under the new proposals, an independent ombudsman would be appointed to intervene when traditionalist parishes complain they are not sufficiently “protected” from women bishops’ authority. Leading opponents of female bishops believe the measure will “go sailing through” this week’s debate and on to final approval by next year or 2015".

This apparently is sufficient for Forward in Faith and Reform to claim that "the latest plan is 'the best way forward' for the Church". Is this a sell out? There is a weariness about the whole affair but is that any reason for those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to throw in the towel? 'The Church' is much bigger than the Church of England. Can we still claim to belong to the Holy Catholic Church if we fail to oppose what we believe to be wrong? I am heartily sick of listening to the secular drivel trotted out by supporters to justify their covetousness. There is no justification for the ordination of women in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church yet there appears to be a readiness to run up the white flag as Damian Thompson puts it here

Reliance on a referee has seen many a battle unjustly lost on the field of play but even assuming that the 'independent ombudsman' is of the highest integrity he/she will have an unenviable task. WATCH have fought tooth and nail to get their own way, objecting to everything they have regarded as a concession to their opponents. How many times will they be prepared to 'lose' before there is pressure to have the new measure rescinded?

The last of the Guiding Principles in the  Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [GS 1924] states:
Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of 
England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that 
maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to 
mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

In the run up to the vote on women bishops in the Church in Wales, the Ass Bishop of Llandaff lost no time in telling people that provision for the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (flying bishops) in the Church of England's Act of Synod was intended to be of a "temporary nature" (here).
Claiming insider knowledge, he testified as to what was meant:
"John Habgood, formerly archbishop of York, is widely acknowledged as the architect of the Church of England's Act of Synod, the Act that was promulged in 1994 and included the provision of PEVs. I was John Habgood's chaplain at the time, worked with him on the Measure and can testify that the intention of the Act was to be of a temporary nature, giving people opposed to the ordination of women a gracious space during a period of reception of women priests. As you probably know, I am now Lord Habgood's official biographer, and so have had recent conversations with him about that crucial period. His recollection coincides exactly with mine, that the intentions of the Act was that it would apply for a limited period of time. Inevitably the provision of PEVs strained the catholic understanding of episcopacy and ecclesiology as expressed in a UK Anglican setting, where formerly the bishop of a diocese was the centre of unity in that diocese; however, it was felt, in the run up to the Act of Synod, that that strain was bearable for a limited period in order to hold things together."

In the Church in Wales the time limit expired when women were ordained to the priesthood. The post of Provincial Assistant Bishop created to get the measure through was immediately dropped when Bishop David Thomas retired in 2008. In September this year the Welsh bishops introduced a bill which included a measure that would have made statuary provision for dissenters, a measure hailed by some as the way forward in the Church of England. That was a farce (here). The bishops voted in favour of an amendment in opposition to their own bill to remove statutory provision and make it voluntary through a code of practice. The mover of the amendment was a former GRAS activist imported into Wales by their scheming archbishop for now obvious reasons (here, and here).

The dissembling Statement of guiding principles in GS 1924 should act as a warning that what we are dealing with is politics, not the faith of the Church. If trust is to be of the essence for the future, the past does not augur well but one thing is clear, those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests cannot in all conscience vote in favour of women bishops or even abstain. That we have had to fight, fight and fight again to save the Church we love should be proof of that.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Swan song? If only...


The Archbishop of Wales                                                                                      Photo: Church in Wales


[NOTE: According to the Church in Wales web site the programme referred to below has been re-scheduled for broadcast on 8 December 2013 by which time the Archbishop should have retired from the scene had he been employed in the secular world he so much admires but since he is responsible only to himself no doubt he will continue to apply his own personal standards and stay put. - Ed.]

Whether the English 'Songs of Praise' or the Welsh 'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol',  first, praise where praise is due. My thanks to the Church in Wales for providing bloggers with such fertile ground for blogging.

From a recent press release: "The Archbishop of Wales will present a special edition of the S4C worship singing series Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol on Sunday 17 November (8pm, English subtitles) to celebrate his tenth anniversary as head of the Church in Wales".

'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol' is the Welsh language version of  Songs of Praise broadcast on S4C which, just like the Church in Wales, serves a minority of people in Wales. It is ranked ninth in the top twenty S4C viewing figures with 31,000 viewers. That's 1% of the population, curiously a similar number of people who attend Church in Wales services regularly each Sunday. But the Archbishop likes minorities, always providing that they are secular, see here and here . They give him the platform he otherwise would be denied for his political posturing to the detriment of the Church. For minorities viewing outside Wales S4C can be accessed online, by satellite and cable, see here.

The S4C programme is produced by a Cardiff-based independent TV production company, Avanti, strangely the same company that was used to produce Songs of Praise sessions from Llandaff Cathedral which resulted in allegations that procurement rules may have been broken. If that rings a bell, so might this headline: "First female Dean of Llandaff Cathedral quits after two months". Full story here but discount the mischievous and unsubstantiated claim: "Church in Wales sources have told WalesOnline that Dean Henderson had had “a 'difficult time' since her appointment, with some clergy resenting the appointment of a woman", a story put about to influence the vote on women bishops with great success after two prominent women clergy in the Archbishop's entourage succeeded in removing statutory provision for worshippers who have not been taken in by the current fad for using the church as an organ of society. 

It is fitting that the Archbishop will be celebrating his own ministry since everything has to be done his way. A chapel boy from Neath, he clothed himself as an Anglican after using his local Anglican Church to learn to play the organ, obviously one of his passions! His journey ends in Llandaff, Cardiff, "where he now lives and where he was first ordained 41 years ago". He says: “I’m deeply aware that I’m following in a line of some of the giants of the Christian faith – people such as the translator of the Bible to Welsh, William Morgan, Alfred Oliver, Joshua Hughes and Richard Lewis and that makes me feel very humble.” Humility is not an obvious trade mark. No bishop from Dubricius in 522 to the much loved Roy Davies in 1999 has done more than Barry Morgan to marginalise the Church in Wales. His magnificent Cathedral is in dire straits with the prayerful few constantly pressed to increase their giving sacrificially to support his 'take it or leave it' regime which is designed to marginalise those who disagree with his secular approach to religion.

If you were to ask people what first came to mind on hearing the word 'Cathedral' no doubt many would say music. A musical tradition to match the splendour of the architecture, the diocesan church par excellence as Barry described his Cathedral. In Llandaff the reality is very different with talk of financial irregularities, nepotism and in-fighting - see comments under the 'Morgan's organ' entry here.

Relations in the Cathedral have taken another knock with the news that 'Peggy Pilot', the omnipresent Archdeacon of Llandaff and part time Cathedral overseer cum temp Dean is to investigate allegations of homophobia within the Cathedral’s choir, story here. No prizes for guessing who will be exonerated.

Two thousand years after Christ appointed His Apostles, Dr Morgan believes that it has fallen to him amongst all the "giants of the Christian faith" to break with the Apostolic Succession. That is not humility, it is conceit. Only he and his fellow bishops now enjoy positions of security in the Church in Wales. While they are adding to their pensions, lesser mortals face an uncertain future under the Church in Wales programme of managed decline. Instead of adding to the number of Christians, they have done the opposite while pursuing their narrow objective of appointing a woman bishop for purely political reasons contrary to the beliefs of the Apostolic Church. Barry's goal now looks likely to succeed unless the church collapses beforehand under the weight of episcopal incompetence.

Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol is often recorded in Welsh chapels with congregational singing rather than a large formal choir, the fate that awaits Llandaff Cathedral on current trends although they will have a magnificent £1.5m organ to accompany the handful of worshippers left in the congregation.

If only Dr Morgan were returning to his roots and this programme were his swan song. Then there would indeed be songs of praise, thanking God for an overdue retirement, 'Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol' yn wir!

Postscript

Fans of Dr Morgan, another minority no doubt, will be disappointed to learn that Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol this week has been cancelled/postponed having given way to a fundraising concert for the Philippines appeal, details here.


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