U.S. Cardinal welcomes LGTBI people

Iain Baxter
15 June at 08:09
Even our Roman Catholic friends are seeing a change!



A refreshing post – pointed out by a mutual friend – brings evidence of a new understanding of human sexual differences in the U.S. Catholic Church.

 There is little doubt that Catholics in the U.S. will be more forthcoming on the inclusion of LGBTI people than those in other countries. As has been shown by Provinces of the Anglican Communion, people in the churches of North America are more up-to-date in their knowledge and acceptance of humanity’s amazing variety – including their innate sexual differences. We are all sinners together – children of God and heirs of God’s Kingdom.

In the U.S. Archdiocese of Newark, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin

is obviously ready to champion the cause of radical inclusion of ALL people into the congregations of his archdiocese – leading the way for others to follow.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


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Canterbury Pilgrimage Revival


08 June 2017

A simple stone set just to the side of the main door into Canterbury Cathedral marks the start of the Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim pathway which stretches through East Kent heading towards the coast, and then onwards to Rome. First recorded by Sigeric, an Archbishop of Canterbury who recorded his route to the holy city in 990AD, it’s one of a number of medieval pathways that crisscross the county of Kent, making their way to, through and from Canterbury.

Although not as well-known as the Camino (also known as the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela in Spain), the Via Francigena, like many pilgrim paths, is experiencing something of a revival – and not just among people of faith. Research by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) suggests that more than 330 million people – that’s a third of tourists worldwide – are going on pilgrimage each year to key religious sites around the world. The Camino itself has grown from fewer than 5,000 pilgrims in 1991 to more than 277,000 pilgrims last year; it is forecast to grow to 464,000 by 2021.

In the UK too, Scotland in particular is seeing an upward trend in religious tourism. Six new pilgrim routes are currently under development, and the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly voted a few weeks ago to revoke its 400-year-old prohibition on pilgrimage.

The growing numbers mean pilgrimage presents challenges as well as opportunities. There are the challenges brought about by the over-commercialisation of a route, but equally opportunities to encourage pilgrims, and the destinations that welcome them, to leave as light a footprint on the earth as possible.

How to harness the potential positive impact of this growing trend has been the focus of recent activity in Canterbury. As the symbolic centre of the worldwide Anglican Communion, it is perhaps fitting that Canterbury was the location for the launch of a new five-year, €1.18 million European Union funded project to promote ‘green’pilgrimage’. It is a project in which the Church of England’s Diocese of Canterbury is now a partner, along with the local county council and other pilgrim places in the UK, Norway, Italy and Romania.

Experts from across Europe came to this emblematic city to share their experience of managing pilgrim sites and paths in sustainable ways, and to encourage faith representatives, business leaders and policy makers as to the benefits of sustainable, eco-friendly pilgrimage. These are ‘green’ values in their broadest sense, which include care for the environment, engagement with local products and services, and tolerance through welcome and hospitality.

Dr Stefano Dominioni, Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, which includes several certified pilgrim pathways, said at the meeting that it was critical to make the case to local and regional authorities that investing in these routes brings a number of positive consequences for the environment, as well as opportunities for new jobs or income. But he noted that the benefits of pilgrimage went far beyond the economy, with data confirming the positive exchanges that occurred between visitors and

Indeed the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, the Anglican Bishop of Dover has said that, ‘Pilgrimage is not just about getting from A to B, but about the invitation to accept encounters; encounters with oneself, with others, with God and with the environment.’ This openness to encounter others is particularly represented in an ecumenical collaboration between the Church of England’s Diocese of Canterbury and the Catholic Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate. The relationship has seen the creation of a new pilgrim route called The Way Of St Augustine.

Walkable in either direction between Canterbury and Ramsgate, it mirrors the same journey St. Augustine would have made after having arrived on the shores of Thanet in AD 597 before going on to Canterbury, where he established a church and monastery.  This month the Shrine opens its new welcome and visitor centre. As the recipients of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, they have been working hard to improve the visitor experience and to amplify the story of St. Augustine who first brought Christianity to southern England, as well as the fine nineteenth-century Pugin design of the church.

Sharing a mutual belief in the importance of allowing others to experience Christian heritage in a way that benefits not only the pilgrim but the environment and local community, the two Church organisations have worked together to create some novel partnerships around the route. These include involving a local canoe business to offer pilgrims the option to travel part of the route – as St. Augustine would – by boat. Or providing local and affordable accommodation through Champing; camping in a church.

It is hoped that the route will grow from strength to strength, enriching the pilgrim landscape of Kent, and offering more possibilities for those that ‘step along the way’, to experience local produce and hospitality to the benefit of the wider community.

So if ‘green pilgrimage’ is already happening in some form, why the need for the EU project at all? Representatives from the Church and local government would point out that participation on routes like the Way of St Augustine, and even to destinations like Walsingham are not nearly as popular as other religious sites found on the continent. However, they could be, given the right infrastructure, investment, and commitment from policy makers, communities and businesses.

What is needed now is learning. With Canterbury’s engagement in the European project formalised, a series of exchanges and fact finding initiatives will take place between now and 2021, the purpose being to help areas like Kent discover best practice from others in order to help build sustainable pilgrimage in the UK.

Jennifer Ross is Projects Officer in the Anglican Diocese of Canterbury


Having just arrived in Angle-land from cold and wintry New Zealand – via Singapore, where we met up with family young fry (also in transit to the U.K.) – it was a pleasure to find this article in The Tablet, the U.K. Roman Catholic newspaper; identifying our very own Canterbury Cathedral (Anglican) as the revived centre of a cult of pilgrimage, alongside that of other places in Europe, including the famous Camino Real to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

It is salutary to be reminded of the ecumenical aspect of religious pilgrimage. into which people are drawn by an inexorable spiritual yearning – to connect with the timelessness of the sacred – in the hope of imbibing something of its life-force. Such another place in England is Walsingham, the home of the medieval Shrine of Our Lady, which accommodates pilgrims from all Christian traditions – including those of Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Pilgrimage, in this context of making a journey in common with others, can be a revitalising influence on those who take part.

The lovely aspect of all of this is that young people are among those flocking to these places of pilgrimage, which still evoke an experience of the mystical that human beings are created to share in and to wonder at. Deo gratias!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Provost of Glasgow Greets SEC Announcement

New post on What is in Kelvin’s Head?

A new day dawning

by Kelvin

Today is my ordination anniversary. Nineteen years ago today on St Columba’s day I was ordained a priest. For most of that time I’ve been promoting the fundamental equality of gay and straight people in the church. With others, I founded Changing Attitude Scotland 13 years ago.

And so it will surprise no one that I’m excited by the vote, overwhelming in two houses, on a knife edge in the house of clergy, yesterday that means that those who wish, in the Scottish Episcopal Church will be able to conduct marriage services for same-sex couples.

It isn’t a way of doing it wouldn’t have been my first choice. If I could have had what I wanted I’d have had a straight vote committing the church to equality and marriages of same-sex couples everywhere. But that won’t happen. The church chose a different route, simply respecting the consciences of all – those in favour and those against. It was, in the end, a better motion than I would have devised.

I was moved beyond words yesterday to hear the speeches in Synod. Moved by people, unlikely people sometimes, who agree with me. Moved too by the presence of those who don’t agree but who see this as the only answer that will give us peace. And moved by those who disagree, those for whom this decision weighs heavily.

But I was moved overall that we are a church that just chose overwhelmingly to stay together over gay marriage. We need and love one another.

In the end I didn’t speak in the debate. My church spoke for me and I’m proud of it.

This wasn’t a vote about gay people. It was a vote about what kind of church we want to be.

This is a mainstream Anglican response to the question that has beset us. Not building windows into other men’s souls and respecting the consciences of all. This is what Anglicans do. This is who we really are. And this is the only solution that will work in the Anglican Church. Let it be seized on by all who seek peace and goodwill.

This solution to the Anglican agonies of recent years bears the label – Made in Scotland for Export.

Made in Scotland with love.


This post from thurible.net, written by Fr. Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St. Mary SEC Cathedral, Glasgow, is – to my mind – a pretty representative reaction to the Synodal reception of the Scottish Episcopal Church of Equal Marriage – by those of us who dearly looked forward to the prospect of the Equal Marriage rites of faithful, committed, monogamous, same-sex couples in Anglican Church communities that will welcome such arrangements, believing the prospect to be in line with basic Christian compassion and social justice. 

The necessity of accepting the fact that there are people in the Church whose theology is different from ours – who see the binary model of the Sacrament of Marriage as inviolable – is now plainly obvious, if we are to remain together as Anglicans in a worldwide Communion of Provincial Churches.

Like the Provost of Glasgow, my hope is that we will all be able to accept our differences – accepting the possibility of what might be called a ‘binary’ theological viewpoint – so that we Anglicans can learn to live together with grace, charity and compassion, not only with the LGBTI community but also with one another.

“Where charity and love are; there is God” (Maundy Thursday antiphon)

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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SEC Votes for Equal Marriage

Scottish Episcopal Church votes to allow equal marriage

Posted on: June 8, 2017 4:47 PM

Photo Credit: SEC
Related Categories: Scotland

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has voted in favour of allowing gay couples to marry in church. The vote means that the Church’s canon law will be changed – to remove the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman. It means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Anglican Church.

A new section will be added to canon law, acknowledging that there are different understandings of marriage which now allow clergy to solemnise marriage between same sex couples as well as couples of the opposite sex. The revised canon will stipulate that no member of clergy will be required to solemnise a marriage against their conscience.

Following the vote, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon issued the following statement:

“The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law. The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of 38, soon to be 39, provinces covering more than 165 countries around the world.

“Today’s decision by the SEC to approve changes to canon law on marriage is not a surprise, given the outcome of the vote at its Synod a year ago.  There are differing views about same-sex marriage within the Anglican Communion but this puts the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with the majority stance that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. This is a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage. The Anglican Communion’s position on human sexuality is set out very clearly in Resolution 1.10 agreed at the Lambeth conference of 1998 and will remain so unless it is revoked.

“As Secretary General, I want the churches within the Anglican Communion to remain committed to walking together in the love of Christ and to working out how we can maintain our unity and uphold the value of every individual in spite of deeply-held differences. It is important to stress the Communion’s strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.

“The primates of the Communion will be meeting in Canterbury in October. I am sure today’s decision will be among the topics which will be prayerfully discussed. There will be no formal response to the SEC’s vote until the primates have met.”

The three “houses” of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod –  Bishops, Clergy and Laity – had to vote in favour with a two thirds majority.  The narrowest margin was in the House of Clergy. The results were as follows:

For Against
Bishops (4) –   80% Bishops(1) – 20%
Clergy  (42) –  67.7% Clergy (20) – 32.3%
Laity (50)   –   80.6% Laity (12) – 19.4%


Responding to the vote, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, said:

“This is a momentous step. By removing gender from our marriage canon, our church now affirms that a same sex couple are not just married but are married in the sight of God…..  But this same decision is difficult and hurtful for others whose integrity in faith tells them that this decision is unscriptural and profoundly wrong.  For them this new chapter will feel like an exclusion – as if their church has moved away from them. So the journey which we now begin must also be a journey of reconciliation. Every faith community must face the issues which are bound up with human sexuality – in their own way and in their own time.  Others will arrive at answers different from ours.  And the Anglican Communion, which is embedded in our history and to which we are passionately committed – the Anglican Communion will have to explore whether its historic commitment to unity in diversity can embrace this change.”

Bishop David called on the Scottish Episcopal Church to address the change with truth, graciousness and acceptance of one another:

“We shall carry forward in our life two honourable and historic understandings of marriage – one which sees the marriage of same sex couples as an expression of Christ-like acceptance and welcome – and another which says that the traditional view of marriage is God-ordained and scripturally defined. That is the journey. That is now the calling of this church.”

The vote followed a debate at Synod. Ian Ferguson of the Diocese of Orkney said introducing the change: “would be like saying Jesus got it wrong. It is beyond belief to say that Jesus was only talking to the times that he lived in. We will be disobeying Jesus; changing the doctrine of marriage is a schismatic move that will damage our relations with our sisters and brothers throughout the AC. “

Stephen Townsend of the Diocese of Aberdeen argued: “We are all agreed that this church has but one head – Jesus Christ.   Are we saying that we, the body of Christ, have a different view on marriage to Christ our head? If we don’t adhere to his teaching we are not the church of Jesus Christ at all.”

However those in favour argued it was about acceptance and love. Victoria Stock of the Diocese of Edinburgh expressed the pain of exclusion she has felt in the past: “I do believe Jesus would be telling us just to get on with it. This vote isn’t about one side winning or triumphing against another. It’s about reaching out to one another…..unity is about stepping outside ourselves and seeing the other; we the Scottish Episcopal Church have something special to offer the world. We can offer generosity of heart.”


HIP HIP HOORAY! It took the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) to bring Equal Marriage to Anglicans in the British Isles. Despite the Anglican Communion’s  Secretary-General’s reference to Lambeth 1:10 (a highly contested Resolution at the time, and since) on the status of Marriage as the sole prerogative of 1 male and 1 female (at a time, of course); the world has moved on from this binary understanding of human sexuality – except, notably, for the GAFCON Provinces of the Anglican Communion and their infant satellite schismatic offspring – like ACNA and AMiE – in other Provinces.

That this move in SEC – in tune with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada – will bring further schismatic action from GAFCON and its Confederate faux-Anglican Churches that have sprung up already in Ekklesia Anglicana; has now been evidenced in ACNA’s decision – on behalf of GAFCON – to ordain its own pirate bishop to operate in Scotland. This will be the second pirate-bishop planned to undermine the Anglican Communion Churches in the British Isles; the first having been ordained by the schismatic REACH in South Africa who, seemingly, is still a priest in a Church of England diocese!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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GAFCON announces its “missionary bishop”

GAFCON press release: Missionary Bishop introduced by Archbishop Foley Beach

This includes the following:

Statement on Gafcon Missionary Bishop by Archbishop Foley Beach

Good afternoon. Thank you for being here today. I plan to make a brief statement. Canon Andy Lines will make a brief statement. Rev. David McCarthy will make a brief statement. And then we will have a time for questions.

I speak to you today as the Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America, and as a sitting primate on the Gafcon Primates Council. On behalf of the Chairman of Gafcon, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of All Nigeria, the Assistant Chairman, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, and the Gafcon Primates Council: Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We continue to have a crisis in the Anglican Communion as the virus of revisionist theology and practice continues to spread to various Provinces. Rather than correcting and disciplining those who have departed from the biblical faith and practice which has been handed down to us from the Apostles, some church leaders are embracing false teaching, and then going even further by promoting it around the world.

The Nairobi Communiqué from the Gafcon meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 clearly stated that the Gafcon leadership would not ignore the pleas of the faithful who are trapped in places where false doctrine and practice occur. We promised that we would provide pastoral care and oversight for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.

At our April meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, the Gafcon Primates decided to provide a missionary bishop for Europe with the initial focus on those in Scotland and those faithful Anglicans in England outside the Church of England. Today’s decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalized by their leaders. The attempt to redefine marriage is not one that a faithful Christian can support.

The Gafcon Primates have asked our Province, the Anglican Church in North America, to take on the task of providing a missionary bishop for Scotland. Our Province was formed at the direction of Gafcon 2008 after many of the Provinces of Gafcon had provided the same kind of oversight for clergy and congregations in North America. They have asked us to consecrate Canon Andy Lines.

Our College of Bishops discussed and decided to accept this responsibility. Following the Canons of our Province, the Executive Committee of the Province was not only consulted, but also voted unanimously to support this endeavor. We also appointed an oversight Committee of Bishops to provide guidance and accountability for Canon Lines as he walks through our consecration process and to support him after he is consecrated a bishop. Archbishop Robert Duncan is chair of the committee which consists of three diocesan bishops: The Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood, The Rt. Rev. Charlie Master, and The Rt. Rev. David Hicks.

Canon Andy Lines is now canonically resident in the Diocese of the South as a “priest in good standing” after having been transferred from the Province of South America as a priest in good standing.

The Consecration will take place on the morning of 30 June in Wheaton, Illinois and the service will include Primates, Archbishops, and bishops from all over the world. Although the Anglican Church in North America is the consecrating Province, this is an initiative of the wider Anglican Communion…

The Press Pack contains several further items:

Scottish Anglican Network press statement: Fellowship impaired by Scottish vote

Biographical Information on Press Conference Speakers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About Samuel Seabury


(Hat-tip to Thinking Anglicans for this article)

SO! Schismatic ACNA Primate, Mr.Foley Beach (appointed by the GAFCON Primates) has declared his hand in the situation now facing the independent Provinces of the Anglican Communion, whose Primates do not agree with GAFCON’s schismatic activities around the worldwide Communion of Anglican Churches!

Such action – the illicit ordination of a foreign bishop to invade the Scottish Province of the Anglican Communion (SEC) – follows on the recent illicit ordination of a bishop to invade the authority of the Church of England, What this schismatic action on the part of GAFCON and its schismatic associates will do for the koinonia of the traditional broad church ethos of the Anglican Communion as it presently exists is anybody’s guess. Mine is; that it will fracture relations.

This could end up with 2 ‘Anglican’ Communions; the real one (under the guardianship of the See of Canterbury), and a new faux-Anglican Communion, under the guardianship of the Primate of All Nigeria. Should this sad situation eventuate, I know which one I will continue to belong to – that which is Gospel oriented, reaching out to ALL people, under the loving Lordship of Christ.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 June 2017 at 5:41pm BST
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Scottish Epicopal Church to discuss Same-Sex Marriage

Scottish Episcopal Church to vote on marriage canon change

On Thursday 8 June, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will open in Edinburgh.

The full details of this can be found in links from this page on the national church website, but oddly the main press release is not available as a web page, so is copied in full here, below the fold. The most newsworthy item in it is this:

The first key item of business on this year’s agenda is the second – and final – reading of a proposed alteration to the Church’s Canon on Marriage. This proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. The voting process on this proposed canonical change will require a two thirds majority in each ‘house’ of Bishops, Clergy and Laity. This session will be presented by the Church’s Faith and Order Board and will commence at approximately 2.30pm on Thursday 8 June, with the result of the voting ballot announced at approximately 4.20pm.

Law & Religion UK has reproduced the sections from the document 2017 General Synod which concern the voting procedures and the opinions from the dioceses. See Changing marriage doctrine in the SEC – voting procedures.

There is a vast amount of further detail about this in the main file of synod papers, including a lot in the minutes of the previous synod, and a DRAFT of a document titled College of Bishops Principles and Guidelines relating to Marriage which can all be found at this link.

Kelvin Holdsworth has written this explanation of what is going on: What the Scottish Episcopal Church is Voting On which I recommend reading in full. He writes:

…However, it is important to realise that the debate tomorrow is not being conducted in terms of a motion that will allow the Scottish Episcopal Church to vote either for or against the marriage of same-sex couples. I kind of wish that it was, but it resolutely isn’t.

The synod agreed a couple of years ago that the way that it wished to debate this was to see whether there was enough of a majority to remove the inherently heterosexual definition of marriage that had been placed in the Canons thirty odd years ago and replace it with a statement that acknowledged that Scottish Episcopalians believe different things about marriage and make proposals for allowing those who wish to marry same-sex couples to do so whilst protecting the conscience of those who do not wish to marry same-sex couples.

This is fundamentally a vote about what kind of church we want to be.

If we want to be a church that tries to respect people’s consciences on this issue then the thing to do is to vote in favour of motion 6. If we want to be a church which insists that everyone has to abide by the rules of a minority position then the right thing to do is vote against motion 6.

That’s the thing, you see. We can be pretty sure that there will be a majority in each of the houses of synod in favour of moving forward. That means that there will be a majority in each house, including in the house of Bishops voting against the current policy of the bishops.

Should this vote fail, we’ll be in a strange place. No doubt some reflection will be needed but what is certain is that the bishops can’t defend a position that they’ve just voted against.

Should the vote succeed then it is incumbent on all of us to abide by what it says and work to protect the conscience of those who don’t want to solemnise the marriages of same-sex couples. Scots law means that there’s no way anyone can be forced to do so anyway, but there must be no disparaging those who don’t want to take part in any way at all…

According to both the Church Times and Christian Today conservatives will announce a rival “missionary bishop” if this vote goes through. See Rival ‘missionary bishop’ to be announced by GAFCON as Scottish Anglicans fight off split and Scottish Anglicans will decide this week about same-sex weddings.

Continue reading “Scottish Episcopal Church to vote on marriage canon change”


My favourite UK Anglican website – ‘Thinking Anglicans’ here publishes the news of the discussion about to take place in our partner Anglican Church in Scotland –  S.E.C.  – the Scottish Episcopal Church – on the matter of whether, or not, that Church will agree to alter the Marriage Canon to provide for the Marriage of Same-Sex persons.

What may be important for the people who might wonder whether this is a good move on the part of S.E.C. at this time, is that any proposal to alter the Church’s Constitution on Marriage would leave room for those clergy who do not wish to perform Same-Sex Marriages to opt out of any provision for such a procedure.

Exacerbating the discussions is the fact that there already has been a threat on the part of the GAFCON Provinces and related factions in the Anglican Communion to provide ‘Alternative Episcopal Oversight’ in the Church of England, by the provision of an overseas appointed bishop approved of by GAFCON, AMiE, and local opponents of Same-Sex Marriage.

The Church of England has already been undermined by GAFCON, AMiE, and its local associates by the local ordination of a Church of England clergyman by the schismatic South African faux-Anglican church known as ‘REACH’. an act of piracy that reflects the intentions of the GAFCON and the AMiE communities to undermine the Church of England’s authority in the U.K.

It would appear that GAFCON & AMiE are determined to overturn the authority of local Anglican Provincial Churches in places where outdated fundamentalist conservatism is being rejected on issues of gender and sexuality.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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How do we really view our neighbour?

Relationships are given to enable each of us to grow into the person we are created to become!  This wonderful article, posted on Thinking Anglicans, caught my attention:


Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


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