Tag Archives: Church of England

General Synod to Discuss Transgender “Re-baptism”?

From the Guardian:

Church of England to consider transgender naming ceremony

Vicar of Lancaster Priory proposes motion for General Synod to consider ceremony to mark a person’s gender transition

Church of England to consider transgender naming ceremony | Society | The Guardian

Photograph: Rex-Shutterstock

The Church of England is to debate plans to introduce a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.

The Rev Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, has proposed a motion to the General Synod to debate the issue, after he was approached by a young transgender person seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity.

The motion, which was passed by Blackburn Diocese last month, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether it should introduce a new service to mark the milestone in the life of a trans person. A spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that the motion had been received, but said it would not be debated imminently.

Newlands urged the church to take the lead on welcoming a group that suffered high levels of discrimination.

He said he knew a number of trans people though his work with LGBT organisations. “It’s an absolute trauma to go through this, with the surgery, as people get a lot of transphobic bullying. The church needs to take a lead and be much more proactive to make sure they are given a warm welcome.”

– full report at The Guardian.

English Bishop Apologises for Hurt to Gay People.

The Church of England is gradually adapting to the reality of gay marriage – and one more bishop has publicly apologised for the hurt it has caused (in particular, for the hurt caused by the bishops’ January statement on same – sex marriage.

Right Revd Michael Perham
Right Revd Michael Perham

Bishop of Gloucester speaks out on Church of England’s attitude to homosexual people

THE Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Michael Perham, addressed the Church of England’s attitude towards homosexuality at Thursday night’s Gloucester Diocesan Synod.

He apologised for the hurt caused by the ‘harsh’ House of Bishops’ statement on same-sex marriage.

Here is his full address.

“We are where we are. Same-sex marriage is here, here to stay.

“It will fast become part of the fabric of our society.

“The weekend of the first such marriages I wanted to rejoice with those who were rejoicing, recognising what a wonderful moment it was for them, and to weep with those who wept, recognising how for them a deeply held belief about marriage was being undermined.

“The House of Bishops’ January statement, when the first same-sex marriages were taking place did recognise that there needed to be room for conscience, that some gay or lesbian Christians would enter such a marriage and that the Church would continue to honour and accept them as members of the body of Christ.

“What it also said was that it could not extend that freedom to its authorised ministers or allow those who had contracted such a marriage to become one of its authorised ministers.

“There were those who, taking a more conservative position, felt that the statement went too far in its accommodation to same-sex marriage.

“But there were rather more who felt the statement struck an unnecessarily harsh and negative tone.

“The House of Bishops, producing a statement under some pressure, underestimated how uncompromising and hurtful the statement felt to some.

“The tone was harsh – there was not much sense of welcome to all as children of God.

“I am sorry for that and for the hurt I know it has engendered.

– more at Gloucestershire Echo.

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Christmas Present for the Anglican Church: a Women Bishop ?

The Guardian reports that the Anglican Church is expected to name its first female bishop by Christmas 2014 – and one of the leading candidates produced a report “friendly to gay clergy” as far back as twenty years ago.

Church of England could appoint first female bishop by Christmas

Secretary general of church’s governing body says law could be changed in time for committee meeting in December

The Church of England could name its first female bishop by Christmas, its most senior bureaucrat has said – a move that would end nearly 20 years of wrangling since the church decided in 1993 that women could be made priests but must not be promoted to bishops.

The Church of England’s General Synod in November last year. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

William Fittall, secretary general of the church’s governing body, the General Synod, said that if the synod voted as expected at its next meeting, next month, the arrangements to promote women could become law in November after being approved by the dioceses and then by parliament.

The committee that chooses bishops has a meeting scheduled for December. If the legislation has been approved by then the committee is almost certain to choose a female candidate for one of the six posts currently free.

Christina Rees, one of the synod’s most prominent campaigners for female clergy, said of next month’s vote: “I think it will sail through. I expect the first woman bishop to be named and appointed before Christmas.”

Among the candidates most frequently mentioned are two women who have already been promoted as far as the law currently allows – Vivienne Faull, the dean of York, and June Osborne, the dean of Salisbury.

(….. Faull is the least controversial candidate). Osborne produced a report friendly to gay clergy 20 years ago that frightened conservatives

via  The Guardian.

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CoE plan to bless gay couples’ civil partnerships?

The Church of England is considering allowing gay couples to have their civil partnerships blessed  in church.

Insiders have told The Mail on Sunday that a top-level panel of bishops set up to review the Church’s policy on homosexuality is actively discussing the issue.

If the reform is approved, vicars would be permitted to conduct a  formal blessing service in church for a same-sex couple who have earlier ‘tied the knot’ at a register office.

Claire Balding Civil Partnership
Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

Union: Television presenter Clare Balding (right) and Alice Arnold at their civil ceremony in 2006

But any move to relax the ban on such blessings would provoke the biggest split yet in the Church, which is already reeling from rows over women and gay bishops.

One option the panel is expected  to consider is a compromise under which gay couples seeking a blessing could be asked to declare they intend to remain celibate, in line with official Church teaching.

But this could create a backlash among gay couples, who would regard it as demeaning to be quizzed about their private lives.

A source close to the working party said that a ‘wide-ranging discussion’ was under way covering a ‘whole range of options’ and recommendations will be made to the House of Bishops later this year.

– more at  Mail Online.

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Anglican stance on same-sex marriage ‘morally contemptible’, says gay cleric

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, accuses Rowan Williams of hardening the Church of England’s attitude to gay marriage

Rev Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a “morally contemptible” policy on same-sex marriage, denouncing it for moving “in the opposite direction” to society and criticising Rowan Williams for changing his “public position” on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, writes that, by setting themselves against same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Church have prioritised the union of the Anglican communion over the rights of gay Christians.

“This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible,” he writes in an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian. “Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

John writes that, contrary to the expectations of those who had expected Williams to introduce a new tone in the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the Church’s line has in fact “continued to harden” during his near-decade as Archbishop of Canterbury.

John – who was forced to withdraw his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 due to fury from conservative evangelicals – says that as Archbishop of Wales Williams had made the case for an ethical framework for gay relationships. “Tragically, he changed his public position as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine,” he adds. “Since then the Church’s line has continued to harden.”

In Permanent, Faithful, Stable, republished this week as Anglicans prepare for a stormy autumn of debate over same sex marriage, John outlines the theological case for gay people in stable and faithful relationships to be offered the same recognition as heterosexual couples. While superficially there is “little difference”, he writes, between civil partnership and marriage, the official distinction “helps perpetuate a distinction in status”.

via The Guardian.

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Clegg joins campaign for gay marriage in church

The fight for gay equality won a boost today after Nick Clegg revealed he will push for same-sex marriages in church.

The deputy prime minister told the Evening Standard that religious organisations should have the choice to hold same-sex weddings if they wanted.

“I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn’t force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn’t stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage,” he said.

The comment takes the prime minister’s promise to legalise gay civil marriages one step further. Under the present consultation on gay marriage there is no option for willing churches to be able to hold same-sex ceremonies.

Yesterday, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper held a conference in Westminster with leaders from the Quakers, Church of England and liberal Jews to push for gay marriages in church.

“I have a very strong sensation that once the dust settles everyone will look back and think, ‘what on earth was the controversy about?'” Clegg said.

“It just seems a perfectly natural thing to do. I don’t think it is anything to get hot under the collar about, or aggressive or polemical.”

However, the topic is still causing deep rifts within religious organisations and Tory MPs.

Canon Chris Sugden of the pressure group Anglican Mainstream said: “If you remove gender from marriage, then nobody ends up married.”

– Politics UK.

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UK Religious Leaders Launch Campaign to Back Civil Gay Marriage

Religious figures who support gay marriage will today launch a fightback against church leaders who have come out against same-sex marriage.

Representatives from the Church of England, liberal Jews, the Quakers and the Unitarian and Free Church will join forces at Westminster to declare their backing for the Government’s plans to legalise civil gay marriage, which have provoked strong opposition from leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches.

Some faiths want the Coalition to go further by giving churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriage.

Those attending the conference will include Giles Fraser, a priest who resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral last autumn following the Occupy protests; Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for the Quakers; Rabbi Roderick Young; Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; and the Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

Mr Parker said the Quakers believe that all committed relationships are of equal worth.

“The new proposals allow civil partnerships in Quaker meeting houses, but that is not a marriage; it is a legal contract, not a spiritual one,” he said. “We don’t seek to impose this on anyone else. For Quakers this is an issue of religious freedom.”

Rabbi Young, who will represent the Movement for Reform Judaism at the conference, said: “The proposal to extend civil marriage to gays and lesbians is greatly to be applauded. However it is not enough. It is a bizarre situation when lesbian and gay rabbis may perform a legal religious marriage for heterosexual couples, but are denied the right to experience that joy for themselves with their partners.”

Today’s meeting has been organised by Labour, which backs David Cameron and Nick Clegg in their efforts to bring in gay marriage, despite vocal opposition from many Conservative MPs. Labour also wants the Government to give churches the freedom to carry out religious same-sex marriages – without forcing them to do so by law.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said last night: “Many religious organisations and people within different faiths support same-sex marriage.

“Whilst opposition from some church leaders has been strong, other prominent church figures are supporting same-sex marriage. It should be recognised that there are many views within and between different faiths. If you believe in religious freedom, those organisations that do want to offer same-sex marriage ceremonies should be allowed to do so.”

She said Mr Cameron must not be deterred by opposition within his own party and beyond and urged him to call an early debate in Parliament rather than stall on the issue.

The Government is expected to reject the calls to allow churches to “opt in” to religious same-sex marriage, a proposal which could fuel the Conservative revolt on the issue.

But church leaders fear the planned civil marriage law would spark legal challenges in the European Court of Human Rights by gay rights campaigners, which would force churches to conduct religious same-sex marriage against their will.

– more at  The Independent.

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