Church Music – post-Vatican 2

Church Music after Vatican II

  • Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review by Daniel H. Martins

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of what is arguably the single most influential event in Christian history since the Reformation: the Second Vatican Council. Far from being absorbed into some larger whole, Vatican II continues to cast a lengthening shadow, offering itself as the most plausible lens through which to interpret thought, practice, and conflict — not only within the Roman Catholic Church, but across the Christian spectrum. Unpacking and exegeting the council documents is virtually a cottage industry that shows no sign of ebbing or being displaced by something else. Sacred Treasure participates in that industry, staking out partisan positions on contested issues surrounding one of Vatican II’s most important documents: Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), the constitution on the sacred liturgy.

Sacred Treasure
Understanding Catholic
Liturgical Music

By Joseph P. Swain.
Liturgical Press. Pp. 400. $59.95

Anglicans live inescapably in the wake of Vatican II, particularly SC. The renewal of worship that crystallized for the Episcopal Church in the mid-1970s, culminating in the prayer book of 1979, grew out of the same flowering of liturgical scholarship that informed the council fathers. It gave birth to a heady era of ecumenical optimism, with extensive cross-communion cooperation in developing vernacular liturgical texts (for English speakers, the International Consultation on English Texts, which yielded much of the language that is now familiar to Episcopalians). The impetus toward a versus populum style of liturgical celebration had gained small traction in Anglican circles when the perception that it was mandated by Vatican II invested it with the hallmarks of normative practice. The issues of liturgical music that concern Joseph P. Swain, while not identical to those faced by Anglican musicians, clergy, and congregations, are familiar enough to make his observations more than just a little interesting to those whose liturgical inheritance is that of the English church.

Swain is a scholar, musicologist, orchestral violinist, and associate professor of music at Colgate University. He brings the tools of his discipline to bear on liturgical music in ways that one would readily expect, shining a light on the inextricable connection between the history of Western music and the history of Western liturgy; one cannot study the former without studying the latter. As a non-Catholic who was an undergraduate music major at an evangelical liberal arts college, I can heartily attest to the truth of Swain’s rueful comment that “the average non-Catholic American music major will know traditions of Catholic music better than most priests” (p. 321).

Swain takes on a formidable task when he endeavors to use technical analysis of musical aesthetics to support his critical judgment on parochial practices. He articulates positions that are neither timid nor free of controversy. Taken on their face, his opinions might be peremptorily dismissed as those of a patrician snob who has season tickets to the local philharmonic and no desire to visit Branson or Opryland — that is, a matter of taste and therefore exempt from critique. But any who would push back on him must engage his analytical scaffolding, which he erects carefully and thoroughly. It is problematic to write about music theory for an audience mostly not schooled in that subject. The author acknowledges this difficulty at the outset, and proclaims an intention to discuss music theory in as non-technical a way as possible, such that any attentive reader should be able to follow along.

Because the subject matter is interdisciplinary — encompassing both liturgy and music — and because both of those fields are multidimensional, with connecting forays into aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, semiotics, language theory, sociology, and organizational behavior, Swain must step outside the confined areas of his acknowledged expertise. That he does so boldly is probably to his credit.

The author’s essential governing rubric comes right from the text of SC (Sec. 112): “Therefore sacred music is to be considered the more holy, the more closely connected it is with the liturgical action, whether making prayer more pleasing, promoting unity of minds, or conferring greater solemnity on the sacred rites.”

In other words, the liturgy is not a sort of flatbed truck on which anyone’s music of choice rides as a passenger. Rather, it is music’s function to reveal ever more clearly the shape, character, and spirit of the liturgy. Following closely on this prime directive is a cognate one: Liturgical music must foster transcendence. “Worshipers do not come to Mass to find the everyday world, but to have some experience, however fleeting and subliminal, of the next world, of the divine” (p. 71).

Building out from those foundational pillars, Swain invokes the linguistic category of semantics, and applies it to the “language” of music. A spoken or written word both denotes and connotes, and thereby acquires not simply one static meaning, but a range of meaning that depends on a context to be interpreted appropriately. A native speaker can navigate this semantic range effortlessly, while one learning a language later in life is often confounded. In the same way, different styles of music take on the character of discrete languages, with elements that both denote and connote (more so the latter), with a semantic range that is of a piece with an aggregation of associations, both conscious and subliminal, in the minds and memories of those who hear it or perform it.

Therefore — and this is where Swain wades into choppy waters — some musical styles are more inherently suited for use in the liturgy, and other styles less suited (or, he would say, simply unsuited), all because of their semantic range. Indeed, he develops this idea extensively; it is the linchpin to his critical infrastructure. (This is not the only place he engages the subject; Swain wrote Musical Languages in 1997.)

The main trajectory of the volume combines the areas of Swain’s demonstrated expertise — music history, music theory, and critical theory — with his areas of considerable knowledge — liturgy, theology, and language theory — to produce a pointed polemical thrust in the debates on the true meaning and proper interpretation of Vatican II in general and SC in particular. He is evidently a faithfully practicing and theologically informed Roman Catholic Christian, who is comfortable integrating scholarship with faith. He takes an unabashed traditionalist interpretive stance toward SC, in opposition to those who contend for the “spirit” of Vatican II, in distinction from what the official documents of the council actually say (and, in Chapter 19, offers a close reading of several key sections of SC in support of his arguments). At some risk, he avers that there is such a thing as absolute truth and, in art, absolute beauty. Beauty is manifestly not in the subjective eye of the beholder. It is defensible to make judgments about whole style categories of music that are not appropriate for the liturgy. Yes, he realizes, this exposes him to the charge of elitism, to which he might well respond, “Bring it!” One of his principal bogeymen is the notion of democracy applied to music, which he considers a category error of the first order.

Where does Swain hope his theoretical and critical perambulations will lead clergy and choir directors and organists who are responsible for liturgical music in parish and cathedral churches? If his work were to contribute to a renewal of plainchant as a thriving musical language, I suspect he would be overjoyed. For Episcopalians, the plainchant idiom might best be typified by the fairly familiar music of the opening dialogue of the Great Thanksgiving and the Proper Preface, leading up to a Sanctus sung to the setting by Merbecke (H1982, S-113) or Hurd (S-124).

Swain also advocates for a revival of the refined choral language of classical polyphony, brought to an apex in the 16th century by Palestrina, Victoria, Byrd, and their contemporaries, precisely because of the character of rhythmic fluidity that it shares with plainchant. He would, as well, be gratified if the proper Latin Rite antiphons for the introit, offertory, and Communion at each Mass were not universally ignored in favor of the rubrical option for a strophic hymn or other song in those positions. There are also things he would have church music leaders eschew, including the entire folk revival repertory rooted in the 1970s, purveyed by the St. Louis Jesuits, and made widely accessible by such collections as Glory & Praise.

How might Anglicans and Episcopalians be prompted by Swain’s survey of the Catholic liturgical-musical universe to reappraise our liturgical-musical practice? Those who swim in certain currents of the Anglo-Catholic stream could perhaps at first be tempted to pat themselves on the back for hanging on to the “minor propers,” that is, the ancient antiphons and Psalm verses for the introit, gradual, offertory, and Communion on each Sunday and feast day. In practice, however, these items are often spoken rather than sung, thus denying their inherent character and historical origin as song. And to compound incoherence, they are usually employed not in place of (as Swain advocates) but in addition to strophic hymns.

We might also ask how our service music (congregational settings of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Fraction Anthem, whether Agnus Dei or something else) stacks up against the criteria enunciated by Swain. It’s very much a mixed bag. For these items, we tend not to drink too heavily from the folk revival current that he so disdains, though some of our standard repertory is of dubious artistic quality. (Does anybody really like Robert Powell’s Gloria [S-280] or is it sung so widely because it’s easy to learn?) But there are some gems. The setting of the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (traditional language texts) by Healy Willan is artistically superb, yet accessible to most congregations served by a competent organist. The Gloria is initially challenging, to be sure, and Swain complains that initial pushback too often leads to withdrawal and substitution of something that can be learned immediately. But it is immensely rewarding, once learned. Similarly, the settings in David Hurd’s Plainsong Mass would seem to exemplify all the characteristics cited by Swain by which the musical language of plainchant commends itself.

At a recent celebration of the Eucharist prior to a meeting of the diocesan council in Springfield, with just 20 in the congregation, we used Swain’s liturgical-musical paradigm smoothly and gracefully, with a minimum of fuss and effort — no printed programs, no instrumental accompaniment, no stage directions. We sang the Hurd Trisagion in lieu of the Gloria, we greeted the Gospel with a well-known plainsong Alleluia, we chanted the dialogue and preface according to the traditional tone, we sang the Hurd Sanctus,and the traditional plainsong Our Father. There were no additional hymns, and the ceremonial was simple, but it was in every sense a “sung Mass.” It was an example of letting the shape and rhythm of the liturgy shine through, with music serving its proper auxiliary role, making the event transcendent.

The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins is Bishop of Springfield and serves on the Living Church Foundation’s board.


I don’t often post articles from ‘Living Church -, a conservative blog-site in the U.S., – but I do share some of the concerns of the writer of this article. Have our modern ‘Prayer’n’Praise’ congregations lost the traditional ear for decent music that has enhanced public worship for many centuries of devotion in our Church?

I ponder this question as my wife, Diana, and I set off for a well-earned rest from our post-quake (4 years now) City of Christchurch in New Zealand. Our home parish church of Saint Michael and All Angels does its very best to provide an eclectic mix of modern music (accompanied mostly by our re-furbished organ and an accomplished robed choir) and the treasury of traditional plainsong and polyphonic music that has come to us down through the centuries of Anglo-catholic usage.

Our Sunday worship  – apart from a traditional 8am BCP Celebration – consists of a 10am Solemn Mass and Evensong and Benediction, with a monthly Taize Service offering the chants of the Taize Community in common with many other inter-denominational communities. We also have a Daily Mass tradition, sans music.

This Sunday, Diana and I expect to be present at Sung services in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, with its wonderful musical tradition, before embarking on a Cruise of the North Pacific – during which we will keep up our own course of Daily Prayer, with the hope of Eucharistic worship normally available to people on cruise vessels.

On our Sunday of disembarkation, we hope to be worshiping with the congregation at Christchurch Saint Laurence in Sydney, with whom we share a parochial life-style of liturgical worship – with a wonderful choir and organist. So, for us, a change in worship circumstances for 5 weeks, during which I shall only lightly be engaging in posts on my blog. Pray for us and we will for you! Blessings!

Father Ron, Christchurch, New Zealand

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R.C. Bishop: “Church should welcome Unconventional Couples”

Catholic Church: Bishop Says Church Should Welcome ‘Unconventional Couples’

The Religion News Service’s Josephine Mckenna reported last week that Bishop Nunzio Galantino, leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis, said the church should welcome “unconventional couples” who are in “irregular matrimonial situations.” He said, “The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination.”

Galantino was Francis’ choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff’s inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.

But Galantino has not softened his views, which are especially newsworthy because in October the Vatican will host a major conference of the world’s top bishops, called a synod, to discuss issues facing the modern family.

How to deal with gay and cohabiting couples is a likely topic of discussion, but the question of whether Catholics who have divorced and remarried without an annulment can take Communion has emerged as a focal point of disputes among bishops.

Galantino is no stranger to controversy

In a May interview he appeared to denigrate pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics, saying “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”

The bishop was criticized for his claim that Catholics “have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia.” He also attracted criticism for his statement that he hoped the Catholic Church in Italy will be “able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.”


While the Anglican Communion is still divided in its discussion of gender and sexuality issues, this article from the U.S. web-site  ‘Religion Dispatches’ offers this link to Religious News Service’s report from Roman Catholic Bishop Nuncio Galantino (recently appointed Leader of the Italian Bishops Conference) pointing to the need for a more tolerant attitude towards ‘unconventional couples’ by the Church.

Given that Bishop Enzio is a close friend of Pope Francis, his advocacy of a more open attitude on contentious issues of gender and sexuality –  the treatment of divorcees and homosexuals, and attitudes toward the possibility of ordaining married priests – it may well be that our Roman Catholic friends will be witnessing more far-reaching reforms than might otherwise have been thought possible during the reign of previous pontiffs – with the possible exception of Pope John XXIII.

Many Roman Catholics will welcome reform in their Church on matters that impinge on the lives of many of the Faithful, and which need to be addressed in our world of today.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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The fight against intolerance begins at home

Britain has a duty to oppose religious and political extremism – be it the English Defence League or the supporters of jihad – in every corner of the land

Victims in retreat: Yazidis fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Iraq

Victims in retreat: Yazidis fleeing violence from forces loyal to Islamic State in Iraq Photo: Reuters

The common theme is the politics of division and hate: attitudes and mantras that seek to divide rather than unite. Aggressive secularists would advocate the suppression of religion in the public sphere. Yet this would only perpetuate the message of intolerance towards others. Religion is the not the problem – political and religious extremism is.

The best response is to champion the British values that define our country, many of which are founded in faith. At heart, we are a Christian nation – from the Established Church in England, to the language of the King James Bible, deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. But most important, we are a place of justice and tolerance towards others. Our defence of freedom, the rule of law and the evolution of our democracy have all grown from the seedbed of faith.

This is why Britain has long been a safe haven for persecuted people. Whether French Protestants during the Wars of Religion in the 17th century, European Jews fleeing Nazism, or Bosnian Muslims following the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Our Christian values have helped us to identify and rectify our own prejudices and injustices: the 1689 Act of Toleration that protected nonconformists, the Catholic emancipation of the 19th century, or William Wilberforce’s tireless campaign against slavery. For centuries, these ideals have been the salt and light of the nation, illuminating our international reputation as a just and tolerant country.


This excellent article in the U.K.-based ‘Telegraph’, refers primarily to intolerance found in the people of the British Isles. However, it has relevance to all us of – wherever we live!

The great enemy of true religion is sectarian, fundamentalist, puritanical religious opinion that has no room for the humanitarian rights of other people. Injustice has no place in true religion – however seemingly religiously-pure its motivation.

God, as Creator, Redeemer and life-Giver of all humanity, is  – at least, in His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ – the God and Father of all people  irrespective of their ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural or gender differences.

Christians – perhaps above all religious people – should be aware of the need to affirm the humanity and rights of other people to ‘live and move and have their being’ in the world that God has created for God’s glory. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is, above all, the God of Love – dispensing mercy and forgiveness to all according to their capacity to be merciful and forgiving of others. This leaves no room for fundamentalist religious rivalry or persecution.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, new Zealand

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a Live-in Youth Community at Lambeth Palace

Live a Year in God’s Time

  • Thursday, September 4, 2014

Adapted from Archbishop Welby’s website

The Archbishop of Canterbury will open Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35. He invites them to spend a year living, studying, and praying at a historic center of the Anglican Communion.

Launching in September 2015, the Community of St. Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.

The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part time. The year-long program will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.

Members of the community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognize, drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study, and prayer. Through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st-century church.

Lambeth Palace seeks a prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The prior will work under the auspices of the archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the Church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.

“I expect this venture to have radical impact — not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”

“Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community,” said the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, chaplain to the archbishop. “The renewal of prayer and religious life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St. Anselm is all about.

“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion — and beyond — to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”

“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”


Thanks to the US-based web-site ‘Living Church’ for this extract describing the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, inviting a group of young people to live-in for a year at Lambeth Palace. Others will be invited to attend and participate on a part-time basis. 

Already there is a community of prayer attached to Lambeth Palace, relied upon by Archbishop Welby as a resource group of ecumenical support for the ministry emanating from the Archbishop and his Staff. This new initiative is to enable a group of 20-35-year-olds to ‘spend a year living, studying, and praying at a historic center of the Anglican Communion’. 

From the perspective of local churches, where the number of older people exceeds those under 35 years of age, this new initiative should help to bring about a rejuvenated vision of the Mission of The Anglican Communion Churches in and to the world. With a core of dedicated young people determined to make a difference to our understanding of a sacrificial quasi-monastic life-style. It cannot but do good – not only for the participants, but for the image of a Church that may seem to have lost its relevance for the emerging youth of modern-day society.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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ABC Host for Interfaith Vigil for the Middle-East

Welby invokes Holocaust at vigil for Middle East minorities

Madeleine Davies   by Madeleine Davies – ‘Church Times’ correspondent

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 @ 05:15

Click to enlarge

Wake-up call: Archbishop Welby addressing faith leaders at a vigil for peace in the Middle East outside Westminster Abbey on Wednesday

CHRISTIANS in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. He later invoked the Holocaust when addressing an interfaith vigil at Westminster Abbey.

At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in the morning, the Archbishop said: “It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen.”

He was speaking after a meeting and prayer service with representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was “in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture”.

Archbishop Welby said that his prayers were with the family and friends of Stephen Sotloff, the US journalist whose beheading was shown in a video released by Islamic State on Tuesday. Mr Sotloff was “both the latest and most prominent victim, but also he represents many who have suffered in that way but are forgotten”.

Asked about the duty of the British Government to offer asylum to those facing persecution in the region, the Archbishop said: “The last thing we want to do is empty the Middle East of Christians. What Christians need there is not only the long-stop of asylum, but also the provision of safe havens and security to enable people to re-establish their communities in the area. Christians have been there for longer than anyone else. It needs to be remembered.”

On the question of military intervention, the Archbishop said that there was no consensus among the leaders gathered at Lambeth: “We are aware that history has not been totally encouraging in that area. But there are a mixture of views. Some people feel there needs to be more intervention, at least to buy some time. Others feel that that would be wholly unhelpful.”

After the conference, the Archbishop joined Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders at a vigil for peace at Westminster Abbey, organised by Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, and World Jewish Relief. He called the gathering “remarkable”.

Addressing the crowd, which included MPs, he said: “Labelling people for persecution is something that we learned much about in Europe in the ’30s and ’40s, and we are seeing it again.”

He wanted to honour the example set by Baroness Warsi, who “set her own career at nothing in order to demonstrate her commitment to hatred of hatred”. Lady Warsi, who was at the vigil, resigned as a minister in protest at the Government’s policy on Gaza, which she described as “morally indefensible” (News, 8 August).

After praising the efforts of faith-based aid agencies, the Archbishop said that it was “a moment for this to end. It must stop. . . If it does not stop there and in other places around the world, such as northern Nigeria . . . it will continue to spread. It will require courage and time and determination to overcome this evil.”

The vigil was addressed by Muslim leaders, including Ayatollah Milani, an imam from the Al-Khoei Foundation, who said that “what is happening in Iraq is the maximum and highest degree of atrocity done to minorities in the name of Islam . . . Our duty here is to show our solidarity towards all these minorities. . . Whatever is done in the name of Islam by ISIS is only misinterpretation of Islam and its values.”


This meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, with Leaders of minority Christian Churches in the Middle East, at a special gathering at Westminster Abbey, alerts us all the the urgent need of prayer and practical assistance to be directed towards those who are currently under threat of extinction from the repressive forces of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Problems of how to deal with the emerging forces of the Islamic Caliphate have been discussed – varying from a call to military action against ISIS, to a call to prayer f0r both Muslim and Christian Leaders, drawing attention to the need for a more moderate understanding of both Christian and Islamic traditions that embrace peaceful co-existence rather than fundamentalist opposition.

This is a time of great stress for those in the Middle East whose homelands and communities are being threatened with extinction by a brutally oppressive (albeit fundamentally religious) system of governmental rule. Our prayers and practical aid, and support for the United Nations thrust of activity in the region, cannot be invoked too soon – if the Christian Churches in the middle East are to survive.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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A.C. in Wales – On the Threshold of Women Bishops

Wales: Crossing the Threshold – event marks new Women Bishops’ law

Posted on: September 3, 2014 1:39 PM

Related Categories: Wales, women bishops

[Church in Wales] Two women bishops from the United States will take part in a conference in Cardiff this week as legislation allowing women to be ordained as bishops in Wales comes into effect.

The Rt Revd Geralyn Wolf, former Bishop of Rhode Island, will be the keynote speaker at the Crossing The Threshold conference on Thursday (September 4). She will also become the first women Anglican bishop to preside at Llandaff Cathedral when she takes part in the conference service. The Rt Revd Gayle Harris, the Suffragen Bishop of Massachusetts, will also attend.

The conference marks the opening of the rank of bishops to women following legislation passed by the Church in Wales which comes into effect on September 12 – exactly one year after the historic vote. The delay was built in to allow the Welsh bishops time to prepare a Code of Practice to accompany the new law.

In addition to the US bishops, speakers and panellists include other senior theologians, including the Revd Preb. Dr Jane Tillier,  Rev’d Dr Jenny Hurd, chair of the Wales’ Synod Methodist and Canon Joanna Penberthy. Baroness Eluned Morgan, the Shadow Minister for Wales in the House of Lords, and Dr Gill Todd will also take part in the panel discussions.

Crossing The Threshold will be held at St Michael’s College, Cardiff. One of the organisers is the Revd Jan Gould, priest-in-charge of Glan Ely benefice in Cardiff. She says, “This conference is about how we ‘cross the threshold’ to a transformed leadership with the Church in Wales.

“Anglican women bishops in the USA have a huge amount to share and this is a unique opportunity to engage with their experience and to see together what that might mean for the future of the Church in Wales. People will have the chance to share their hopes, fears and expectations in small groups as the Church in Wales responds to this great change.”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, will also attend the conference. He says, “At this momentous time – when the Church in Wales is just weeks away from legislation coming into effect to allow women to be ordained as bishops – I am delighted to support this conference and to welcome in particular Bishop Geralyn Wolf to share her experience and ministry with us.”

Crossing The Threshold conference takes place at St Michael’s College, Cardiff, on September 4. The day will close with a service at Llandaff Cathedral at 7.45pm, at which Bishop Geralyn will preside and Canon Mary Stallard, chaplain of St Joseph’s Anglican and Catholic School, will preach. All are welcome.


This ACNA News of a Conference in Wales to prepare the way for the Ordination of Women Bishops in the Church in Wales must be very welcome news indeed. If things go well here, it could be that there will be a Woman bishop in the Church in Wales before one is appointed in the Church of England!

What remains to be implement now is the expected Code of Practice that will allow the scheme to go forward – with maximum cooperation by all parts of the Church in Wales. No doubt the Church of England will be closely monitoring what goes on at this Conference, which might presage what is expected to happen in the Church of England – under its separate jurisdiction.

In the meantime, we here in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand & Pacifica will be continuing our governance enhanced by Women Bishops – such as Helen-Anne Hartley, Bishop in Taranaki, and our own Bishop of Christchurch,Victoria Matthews, who will be chairing our Diocesan Synod Meeting, beginning tonight with a Eucharist in the Transitional Cathedra. Our Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion has co-existed with Women Bishop for some years now – with discernible benefits from that arrangement.

Let’s hope that the Churches in Wales and England may reap similar benefits!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand









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My Response to the ACANZP ‘Motion 30′

In response to a very recent post on the NZ website of a Colleague of mine in our diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand, concerning his article on an important issue coming up before our local Diocesan Synod this week (Dr.Peter Carrell’s original article can be accessed by this link:  - –  ) I have offered on ‘Anglican Down Under’, Peter’s blog-site, the following comment, which I hope might encourage local Synod members to act accordingly:

Father Ron Smith said…

‘Now, however, we have one party saying to the other, “You are withholding the promise of salvation from some to whom God freely offers it,” and the other party saying, “No, you are holding out a false hope of salvation to some who cannot be saved unless as part of their repentance, they are willing to live a celibate life.’Trevor Morrison

“The ‘other party’ in this case, includes – as the author of the article describes, the ‘Sola Scriptura’ group – a group whose policies I have great difficulty in taking too seriously, on grounds I have already enunicated clearly on ADU, but which include the understanding, in the Western world at least, that LGBT people are co-equal children of God, deserving of respect and eirenic understanding of their situation.”

All the dioceses of ACANZP will be (or have already been) advocating their stand on the acceptance- or not – of an openness to Gay relationships in our Church, which will then be taken forward to our next General Synod of the Church.

I my opinion, this issue needs to be resolved in an eirenic and pastorally caring way that will accept that the LGBT community is a reality and needs to be dealt with carefully and with the loving action of a Gospel-oriented polity, in a world that has now come to terms with the fact that Gay people should not be compelled to embrace celibacy as their only option, but ought be encouraged to commit to monogamous fidelity. This is a justice issue needing an appropriate Church response, and I would advocate accordingly.

The S.S. party – as represented here – seems to believe that to be Gay is to be unnatural, and that to live out that sexual-orientation in a monogamous, loving, Same-Sex relationship is anathema, not only t0 them but to the God Who created Gays.

I say, let due legislation accepting Motion 30 be passed as soon as is practicable! I most certainly urge the Synod of our Christchurch Diocese to give their assent to the process!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



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