DESTINY CHURCH – Taxation Status Questioned

Charities regulator risks becoming censor

charities

Charities Services has confirmed it will analyse the Destiny Church’s tax-free status and see if its guilty of breaching the Charities Act.

If anything is uncovered a full investigation will then be carried out.

But stripping Destiny Church of its charity status risks turning Charities Services into a censor, a charity law expert says.

To be removed from the charities register the law requires evidence of “serious wrongdoing”, said Sue Barker, director of law firm Charities Law and also the co-author of The Law and Practice of Charities in New Zealand.

“And deregistering a charity for “speaking out” could have the “chilling effect” of silencing others, Barker said.

“Do we really want the charities register to be the chief censor?

Destiny Church is registered under its Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Nelson, Taranaki, Tauranga, Wellington, Whakatane, and Whangarei branches.

There are 27,934 registered charities in New Zealand, according to the Charities Services. There are hundreds, if not thousands, which fail to get onto the register, Barker said.

“It’s already very hard … I argue we want them on the register because then they’re subject to all this transparency.”

“If they’re not on it, and are carrying on with their work, what regulation are they subject to? Probably not any.”

Barker said Tamaki himself is not a charity so his income should be taxable.

“I am not aware of his tax profile but I’m presuming he is an employee and he should pay tax on the income that he receives, unless he has an exemption but I can’t think of one that he would qualify for,” she says.

On Friday a spokesperson for the church said they have had no communication with Charities Services so would not be commenting on the development.

______________________________________________________________

DESTINY CHURCH  – Is its applicability for tax-free status to be threatened by what has been assumed to be ‘hate-speech’ by people who object to a statement made by its Auckland Leader, ‘Bishop’ Brian Tamaki? The fact that Mr Tamaki proclaimed in a worship service his belief that the recent New Zealand earthquakes were a direct result of God’s displeasure at what he sees as homosexual and other sexual licentiousness being indulged by the locals (together with the enactment of Equal Marriage by the civil authorities) could, it seems, provide a reason for withholding the current tax-free status for Destiny Church throughout New Zealand.

However, if homophobia – evidenced by anti-gay speech in sermons – could become the basis for taking away the tax-free status of all religious entities in New Zealand, then there would be grounds for removing this privilege from some of the mainline Churches in this country. I can think of more than one Anglican Church that could be accused of anti-gay sermons, that would then be treated in the same way.

What could be a problem, though, with Destiny Church, is whether, or not, its Leader, Brian Tamaki, is also considered part of the tax-free status accorded to the Church he leads. This may be the only basis of a legitimate complaint about Destiny’s tax-free status. Other established Churches in New Zealand have no exemption from income tax levied on their ministers; so this situation ought to apply to all ministers of religion, without exception.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Gospel – An ‘Inclusive Church’ in England

Grief, self-criticism, and a new immanence

Nick Bundock reflects on his church’s journey to being inclusive, born out of tragic circumstances

Click to enlarge

Much missed: Lizzie Lowe

LIZZIE LOWE took her own life in a forgotten patch of farmland behind the River Mersey on 10 September 2014, while her parents were at a film club run by a group from St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury (News, 9 January 2015). It is not possible for me to convey adequately the explosion of grief and dismay that hit the Lowes, the church, her school, and her wider network of family and friends.

Two years on, we are all still wrest­­ling with Lizzie’s death. She would be 16 by now, and no doubt excelling at her A-level studies. The litany of “What ifs” is overwhelming.

Lizzie was gay. Nobody in her family or church knew this — how we wish we had. As a 14-year-old, she was still exploring her feelings, and trying to juggle the many powerful emotions of the teenage years, but it was painfully clear from the coroner’s hearing in December 2014 that her sexuality and her perception of faith were at odds with one another, and had become a chasm too wide to cross.

Lizzie had become convinced that God could not love her the way she was — a feeling she expressed by text message to the few confidants she had, leading up to her fatal decision.

St James and Emmanuel has undergone a revolution since Lizzie died. It is not that we were ever “hard-line”. Actually, we have al­­ways been a pretty broad expression of Evangelicalism. Like many sim­ilar churches, however, we have largely avoided the topic of homo­sexuality, to preserve the peace. I now realise, too late, that ignoring the topic of sexuality is, by defini­tion, exclusive, and unsafe for people who are gay.

In the months after the coroner’s report, the revolution at St James and Emmanuel started with a deci­sion by the PCC to adopt a state­ment of inclusion. This was followed by three structured “listening even­ings”, and inclusion is now a regular item on the agenda of the PCC.

We lost some members during the turmoil of 2015. That was im­­mensely painful for me as a vicar. But we have also gained members, including a wonderful gay couple who had been told not to play in the worship band of their previous church when people had found out about their relationship.

Worship in our church has never been more vibrant and alive. Our paradigm shift has swept a new sense of immanence into our ser­vices, and a fresh honesty into our interactions. Personally, I have crossed the Rubicon: there is no way back. When I do look back, I do so with horror at what a passively homophobic priest I have been.

I do not want anything I have written to sound like a hackneyed rags-to-riches story, or even a resurrection-after-death story. There is no way to erase the horror of Lizzie’s death, or the madness of the wider Church’s ripping itself apart over this issue. Two years on from Lizzie’s death, though, I hope that we have gone some way to amend for our failures. I am proud to lead a church that is both Evangelical and inclusive.

The Revd Dr Nick Bundock is Team Rector of Didsbury, in Manchester.

______________________________________________________________

This is a statement from the network Inclusive Church, which we have adopted:

We believe in an Inclusive Church — church which does not discriminate on any level, including: economic power, gender, mental health, mental ability, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes, accepts and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.

______________________________________________________________

Here, in this testimony from an Evangelical-style Church of England parish church, is played out the tragedy of the credibility gap between extant Church Doctrine and the reality of LGBTI people’s actual lives in the world of today:

“Lizzie was gay. Nobody in her family or church knew this — how we wish we had. As a 14-year-old, she was still exploring her feelings, and trying to juggle the many powerful emotions of the teenage years, but it was painfully clear from the coroner’s hearing in December 2014 that her sexuality and her perception of faith were at odds with one another, and had become a chasm too wide to cross.”

This extract from this article in the CHURCH TIMES clearly outlines the tragedy of the  Church’s official stance on homosexuality – when related to the real lives of teenagers, and there must be many of them out there in the world, who are members of faithful Church families – who have a job reconciling their inner life understanding of their true nature with their understanding of what the Church teaches and requires of them, personally.

The heartache of the Lowe Family, their Vicar, Nick Bundock, and the Parish Family of Saint James & Emmanuel, Didsbury, is mute testimony to the gap between a defective theology and the reality of  the Gospel of Jesus, who came to set us free from prejudice towards those we do not understand, who are different from ourselves and yet part of the family of all God’s children – loved by God beyond all human understanding. May Lizzie’s death not be in vain. May Lizzie Rest in Peace and Rise with Christ in glory!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

GAFCON Challenges the Church of England

Secretary-General’s letter shows why GAFCON UK is needed

25th November 2016
GAFCON UK

The open letter to Canon Andy Lines of GAFCON UK from the Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council is very significant. It can be taken as the official position of the C of E leadership. Helpfully, the letter moves away from matters of tone and motive which tend to dominate discussion and gets to the real issue, namely, what is, or should be, the teaching of the worldwide Church on sexual ethics, and how do we apply this in the Church of England?

Underlying the letter is an institutional mentality which does not locate ecclesial authority with the unchanging Scriptural principles of apostolic Christianity, as affirmed by the global Church. Rather it puts confidence in legal process, with the effect that what is not ‘legally binding’ can be disregarded or relegated to the respected status of a historical curiosity. More than ever, GAFCON UK with its clear confessional grounding in the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration has a vital role to play in our current context.

THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN CONFLICT OVER SEXUAL MORALITY: AIRBRUSHED OUT?

The letter does not acknowledge at all the fractious recent history of the worldwide Anglican Communion since the Lambeth Conference of 1998. (George Conger has written a reflection on his own involvement in the formation of that document here ).

In short, Lambeth I:10 represented the mind of the Communion on the interpretation of Scripture concerning a key pastoral and missiological issue, and on how Anglicans can continue to have fellowship together. The majority of Anglicans rejoiced; in USA and Canada, however, the leadership did not accept the Resolution. The ensuing process aligned TEC and ACoC with Western cultural trends in undermining Judaeo-Christian sexual morality, which is so vital to cohesion in society and individual flourishing.

In the years that followed, the fabric of the Anglican Communion was torn,  because of the attitude of a few members that they had no obligation to abide by the will of the group or the clear teaching of Scripture. There were years of agony as meeting after meeting of Primates failed to resolve the crisis of broken fellowship.

But thankfully, in 2008, a courageous group of Primates gathered a group of Anglicans from all over the world (including England) to meet in Jerusalem, to have fellowship, worship and listening to God’s word together, to recommit to the joint enterprise of reaching the world for Christ and serving its people. This was GAFCON, not a breakaway Anglican Communion, but representing the majority of the Communion; not seeking to undermine or rebel against authority but to restore proper authority to the church, the word of God rather than an institution. GAFCON, now firmly in partnership with the Global South movement, is continuing its task of renewing the Anglican Communion.

The letter issued by the Church of England ignores this recent history of departure from orthodoxy, global schism and restoration which is inseparable from any discussion of Lambeth I:10 and Anglican debates on sexual ethics. At best it can be seen as an ‘England-centric’ viewpoint; others may have good cause to see evidence of disregard for the fellowship and leadership of the global Anglican Communion.

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND DOCTRINE OF SEXUALITY: ‘NO CHANGE’, BUT OPEN TO REINTERPRETATION IN PRACTICE?

Likewise, will Anglicans worldwide who hold to the historic, orthodox teaching on sexual ethics be reassured that this standard and practice will be maintained in the Church of England? To be sure, the letter sets out the legal situation regarding marriage and civil partnerships, and says there is “no formal proposal” to change the church’s teaching, which the majority and clergy and laity “have adhered to” (note past tense). But having downplayed the significance of Lambeth I:10 and rejected the possibility that its precepts can be violated because it has no legal authority, it does not say how the Church of England intends to maintain and commend the Christian doctrines of sex and marriage to the nation.

Instead, it gives bullet points (not referenced, but presumably coming from the Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance document of February 2014) which are extremely ambiguous and open to a number of different interpretations.

First, because clergy in civil partnerships are not legally married, this therefore apparently has “no bearing on the doctrine of marriage”. Technically true, but if clergy in civil partnerships are part of a psychological societal and congregational process of acceptance of same sex relationships, their presence will certainly influence the popular understanding of marriage away from what the Church has historically taught. Where does that leave the Church’s “doctrine of marriage”? A museum piece, perhaps, especially if it may not be supported by Lambeth I:10 but only a reference to the much longer and less accessible “Issues in Human Sexuality”?

Secondly, “clergy and laity are entitled to argue for changes to teaching and practice”.  Again, of course we have freedom of speech! But this seems to open the door to the widespread promotion of any view, even an irresponsible disregard for core doctrines, which include marriage. This provision was no doubt originally intended to allow for a free exchange of views during the ‘Shared Conversation’ process. Its effect now will be again to undermine any idea of clear universally agreed teaching in which we can have confidence.

Thirdly, the letter says “prayers of support on a pastoral basis for people in same-sex relationships” are permitted in churches. This is very misleading: in its original context (The Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance of 2014) such private prayers were clearly distinguished from public ‘prayers of blessing’ which are explicitly not permitted. Without this clear distinction, public services of celebration of same sex relationships could be carried out under the guidelines of ‘pastoral prayer’ – and indeed such services are being carried out as the GAFCON document on Lambeth I:10 violations shows.

On one hand, then, the Church of England has an official doctrine of sex and marriage based on the wonderful fruitful biblical vision of godly celibate singleness, man and woman sacrificially committed to each other exclusively for life, a family of mum, dad and kids; power for living it out, forgiveness for all (ie the 100%) who fall short. But in practice the Church is extremely diffident about explaining or commending this vision, not just because it knows that many in the ranks of its own leadership don’t believe in it, but because it is more afraid of unpopularity from the secular British establishment and Twitter mobs than it is concerned about fellowship with the worldwide church or doing what is right before God.

So rather than changing the doctrine, the Church puts it on the shelf, and allows other beliefs and practices to take hold. The church officially believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, but Bishops can argue for same sex marriage, and clergy can conduct a ceremony which looks to all intents and purposes like the blessing of a same sex relationship, and it’s ‘within the guidelines’. If the line is crossed into same sex marriage, with laity it doesn’t matter; clergy have a private chat with the Bishop because discipline is a matter for them – they are not accountable to the worldwide church. In a postmodern world people are increasingly unconcerned about these contradictions.

The question to ask, then, is not “what will happen if the Church of England crosses the line and accepts same sex relationships”. It has already crossed that line in practice if not in the increasingly irrelevant official doctrine. The question is, what will the faithful do?

Let’s take a step back for a moment from the sharp public exchange between the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and GAFCON UK, and ask: what kind of Church do we want as Anglicans? Do we want our spiritual and moral guidance to come from bureaucratic interpretations of church law, or from the biblical revelation about humanity in relation to one another and God? Is our vision of the church narrowly confined to what we hope will be acceptable to the metropolitan elites in modern secular England, diffidently offering uncertainties as we continue our numerical decline? Or are we more excited by the reality of being part of a global Anglican future, a worldwide fellowship of disciples from almost every nation, tribe and tongue, confidently affirming the apostolic deposit of faith despite the cost, and encouraging one another to live it out with mutual accountability?

______________________________________________________________

This response, from GAFCON.UK, to a Letter from the General Secretary of the Church of England Archbishops’ Council, cautioning Gafcon.UK’s oppositional attitude towards the Church of England on matters concerning Lambeth 1:10; should be a warning to the C. of E.’s House of Bishops about this piratical group of quasi-Anglicans whose aim is to replace the Church of England with its alternative conservative, sola Scriptura view of gender and sexuality. Here is one of its more remarkable claims to so-called ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’ :

“But thankfully, in 2008, a courageous group of Primates gathered a group of Anglicans from all over the world (including England) to meet in Jerusalem, to have fellowship, worship and listening to God’s word together, to recommit to the joint enterprise of reaching the world for Christ and serving its people. This was GAFCON, not a breakaway Anglican Communion, but representing the majority of the Communion; not seeking to undermine or rebel against authority but to restore proper authority to the church, the word of God rather than an institution. GAFCON, now firmly in partnership with the Global South movement, is continuing its task of renewing the Anglican Communion.”

When GAFCON (of which its English foster-child ‘GAFCON.UK’ is the local branch) speaks of “not seeking to undermine or rebel against (Anglican Communion) authority’, it is precisely what it has always sought to do from the very outset of some Primates of the ‘Global South’ – mainly in Africa – by its setting up of a rival to the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which was the agreed basis of relationship of all Provinces of the worldwide Communion. 

With their rival rallying cry the ‘Jerusalem Statement’, the GAFCON Primates had formed their own Primates Council, which began by expelling from its hallowed sodality any of the Communion Provinces that had proceeded with the acceptance of LGBTI people as members and ministers of their local, autonomous, Churches. 

After setting up their own rival ‘Anglican’ Churches in North America (both TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, GAFCON has more recently set up its own rival Anglican Church AMIE (Anglican Mission in England) which is now affiliated with GAFCON’s other militant missionary outlet in England, the GAFCON.UK, whose spokesperson Andy Lines is the designated author of this response to the Archbishops’ Council of the C. of E.

The sooner the Lambeth Conference reconvenes to sort out this act of rebellion from the GAFCON Primates – and their piratical entities around the Anglican Communion, the better it will be for all concerned. If GAFCON and its affiliates want to form another quasi-Anglican global Church, then it should declare its hand and stop stirring up further trouble for those Provinces of the Anglican Communion – including the ‘Mother’ Church of England – whose only desire is to promote the Inclusive Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the modern world – to ALL without distinction.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender and the Quest for God, by Sarah Coakley (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)

Sarah Coakley is Norris-Hulse professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and a canon of Ely Cathedral. This book is a collection of essays which have previously appeared elsewhere, and ar…

Source: The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender and the Quest for God, by Sarah Coakley (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)

____________________________________________________________________________

I’m indebted to the Anglican blog ‘Vivarium’ for this review of Professor Sarah Coakley’s seminal book on human sexuality and the quest for God. A collection of essays, this book is obviously a serious attempt to find common ground with Christianity and our God-given human sexual responses, which are for this world only.

If I could afford it, this review by my friend, Ian, would compel me to buy this book. I am especially intrigued with its reference to earthly marriage as being the reflection of the ‘Marriage of the Lamb’ – the future prospect of eternal relationship in and with God – rather than the other way round, as stated here:

“It is the things of God which are the ultimate realities, and the things of the earth which are ‘like’ them. And it is from the perspective of human marriage being ‘like’ the relationship between Christ and the Church that one must consider the ideas of gender and priesthood. It is from the reality of human desire, sexual or otherwise, being like the inner life of the Trinity that one must consider human sexuality.”

This paradigm of ‘marriage’ is more about relationships than it is about procreation – which is for this world only. In Heaven, Scripture tells us, there will be no giving or being given in marriage (in human terms). This understanding should open up the idea of ‘marriage’ as an ideal of relationship that can include but is not limited to, our heterosexual nuptial relationships, that the Church – perhaps short-sightedly – would limit to the ‘relationship between one man and one woman’ prescribed by its canons.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Cof E responds to GAFCON UK

Church of England press release

Secretary General responds to GAFCON UK – 22 November 2016

William Nye, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, has today sent the following letter to the Revd Canon Andy Lines, Chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force in response to the briefing paper, ‘The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10’.

Dear Andy

I have seen a paper entitled, “The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10”, produced by GAFCON UK and dated 13 November, which is described as a briefing to GAFCON Primates. It purports to be an account of “the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes and teaching on sexual ethics.”

The paper paints a significantly misleading picture both of the teaching and practice of the Church of England, and of Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. I am writing to correct some of the erroneous assertions.

Resolution 1:10 of Lambeth 1998

Resolution 1:10 is one of over 90 Resolutions approved by the Lambeth Conference in 1998. It expressed the will of that Conference. Like all Lambeth Conference resolutions, it is not legally binding on all provinces of the Communion, including the Church of England, though it commends an essential and persuasive view of the attitude of the Communion.

Resolution 1:10 sets out teaching on marriage, as being between a man and a woman, and teaching on abstinence outside marriage. It sets out teaching on homosexual practice. It commits the Conference to listening to the experience of homosexual persons, assures them they are loved by God, and condemns irrational fear of homosexuals. It says nothing about discipline within provinces of the Anglican Communion; the Lambeth Conference has no jurisdiction to do so.

The Resolution is an important document in the history of the Anglican Communion. It is not the only important resolution, from that Conference or others. It does not have the force of Scripture, nor is it part of the deposit of faith. The key elements for the Communion are those within the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Teaching and practice in the Church of England

The teaching of the Church of England on matters relating to same-sex practice and unions is, and remains, as set out in the document issued by the Church’s House of Bishops in 1991, “Issues in Human Sexuality”. That document pre-dates the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and is consistent with the resolution 1:10 of the Conference. Subsequent refinement of the teaching by the House of Bishops, as in guidance documents issued when the British State introduced civil partnerships and then (civil) same-sex marriage, has not changed the fundamental substance of that teaching.

When the Government proposed to introduce same-sex (civil) marriage the Church of England argued against it, including in Parliament.

Previously in 2004 the majority of our bishops had voted for legalising civil partnerships when that legislation made its way through parliament.

English law now provides for same-sex civil marriage, and for Christian denominations other than the Church of England or Church in Wales to opt into providing same-sex marriage if they wish to. There is no provision in English law for same-sex marriage in Church of England churches. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – the Act of the UK Parliament which introduced same-sex marriage in England and other parts of the UK – expressly leaves intact the Church of England’s Canon which defines marriage as “in its nature a union permanent and lifelong … of one man with one woman”. And although the Act changes the definition of marriage in English law generally, those changes do not apply to any ecclesiastical law of the Church of England (Canon B.30).

At present, the House of Bishops is reflecting on conversations across the Church on same-sex issues. But at this point no change has been made to teaching, nor has there been any formal proposal to do so.

The great majority of the clergy and laity of the Church of England have adhered to the teaching and guidance as taught by the House of Bishops, which is consistent with Lambeth 1:10.

You describe a number of issues as being “violations” of Lambeth 1:10. For many of these, I would venture to suggest that they are not “violations” – though, as noted above, Lambeth Conference Resolutions do not provide a binding discipline on member provinces of the Communion. For example:

clergy in the Church of England are indeed permitted to enter into civil partnerships (which are legally not the same as marriage, and therefore have no bearing on the doctrine of marriage);

clergy in the Church of England are permitted to offer prayers of support on a pastoral basis for people in same-sex relationships;

churches are able to indicate that they welcome LGBTI people, just as they would welcome all people;

clergy and laity alike are entitled to argue for changes to teaching and practice.

There have undoubtedly been cases of people in the Church of England who have not kept to the teaching as set out in “Issues in Human Sexuality”. I will not comment on such individual cases. I do not believe it is appropriate to debate these publicly. What matters is not whether they are “violating Lambeth 1:10”, which as noted above has no binding legal force. What matters is the position under the Canons (for the clergy) and the broader law and teaching of the Church of England for the laity. It is not the case that no discipline has been applied to clergy who, in violation of their duties under the Canons, have entered same-sex civil marriages. How discipline in the Church of England is applied is a matter for the Bishops of the Church.

I hope that this will give you and readers of the paper a clearer picture of the state of teaching and practice in the Church of England.

Best wishes

William (Nye)

______________________________________________________________

Thanks to Simon Sarmiento (Thinking Anglicans) for this report from the Church of England

This is a very good response – from the Church of England’s General Secrary, William Nye – to the GAFCON/UK briefing paper on *  ‘The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10.which obviously contains misleading comments about the content and enforceability of Lambeth 1:10 and its statements on human sexuality.

Despite GAFCON/UK’s insistence that the Church of England is not following the ‘discipline’ of Lambeth 1:10; William Tye reminds them that Lambeth 1″10 has no disciplinary power over member provinces of the Anglican Communion, as stated here:

” Resolution 1:10 sets out teaching on marriage, as being between a man and a woman, and teaching on abstinence outside marriage. It sets out teaching on homosexual practice. It commits the Conference to listening to the experience of homosexual persons, assur(ing) them they are loved by God, and condemns irrational fear of homosexuals. It says nothing about discipline within provinces of the Anglican Communion; the Lambeth Conference has no jurisdiction to do so”.

The hubris of the GAFCON Primates is quite obvious – when reading the briefing paper * above, which contains this statement as a prequel:

“This paper [now updated, with more footnotes] was recently presented as a briefing to the GAFCON Primates on the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial. It argues that the Church of England has already ‘crossed the line’ by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution I:10 are increasingly prevalent. It is published with permission.”

The statement ‘crossed the line’, here, can only mean one thing: that the Gafcon Primates consider the Church of England to have proceeded beyond the boundaries they (GAFCON) have set for themselves and, presumably, by intent, for the rest of the Communion – on matters of sexual ethics.

Hopefully, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England will now sit up and take notice of the high-handed attitude of the GAFCON Primates, and their conservative and unhelpfully combative understanding of what is at stake for the rest of the Communion in their insistence on maintaining out-dated attitudes towards gender and sexuality.

If GAFCON continues to insist that it cannot live with other Provinces’ modern view of intrinsic gender and sexual orientation issues, then perhaps this is the time for the Lambeth Conference to reconvene and decide on Gafcon’s future in the Communion.

What worries some of us is that GAFCON/UK has no official standing within the Anglican Communion nor – I believe – within the Church of England, being a schismatic body set up by Gafcon in the U.K. for the sole purpose of undermining the jurisdiction of the Church of England. Why, then, does the Church of England even bother to engage in conversation with them?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

C..of E. Bishops to discuss LGBTI Christians

Are Your Ears Burning…?

by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News

ABC-bishops_2516474b

It’s a strange thing, being talked about.

The House of Bishops meets this week to do just that…to talk about “us” LGBTI Christians.

They do so without one openly gay or transgender bishop in their midst – this is the House not the College of Bishops, and yet they are going to decide what they are going to do with “us”.

I personally can’t think of another institution in the modern-day world that would be able to get away with this, but of course, the Church has been getting away with such practices from time immemorial.

It comes on the back of a rather unpleasant document that sought to name and shame loyal Christians for having the courage to be openly gay.  No thought, of course, to our safety, or indeed to the pastoral implications of what they did.  I know that many within GAFCON are more than aware that some of us have had acts of homophobic violence perpetrated against us already this year…but I suppose they just think that is par for the course.

So they’re going to talk about “us” without “us”.  The one thing we have been asking them not to do.

We’re told to trust “them”.

I for one will definitely pray for “them” as “they” meet.

The problem is that the whole debate is now framed about “them and us”, divided groups differentiated by our sexuality and gender.

All we want is to be treated as an inclusive pronoun – “we”.

To be equal members of the Body of Christ, not second class citizens, where we’re appreciated as a community to be embraced and loved rather than a problem to be solved.  Goodness knows most of us have had enough rejection and pain already.

So we have to hold our breath and wait – and hope that when our ears burn, it is because the Holy Spirit is at work and that truth and grace are being spoken and heard.

______________________________________________________________

Jane Ozanne, a Member of the Church of England’s General Synod, reminds us of the fact that today and tomorrow – Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (22 & 23 November 2016) the Church of England’s House of Bishops will be at a special meeting to discuss the place of LGBTI people in the Church. They will need openness to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In the meantime, the GAFCON Primates have issued a warning to the bishops that they will not countenance any movement forward from the outdated understanding of Gender and Sexuality that they, themselves, continue to uphold – in the face of Western society’s shift to a more humane and just outlook towards this significant minority of people living in our world in the 21st century. Many Church families include people who are L.G.B.T. or I.

This article needs no more expansion from me. Jane states very clearly the situation of the Anglican Communion, in which different parts of the world have different views on whether LGBTI people could – and even should – occupy a place of dignity in the Churches of our Communion, especially in places where the local government has passed laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual difference.

This meeting will be a test as to how intent are the bishops of the C. of E. on the inclusion of LGBTI people in the mission and ministry of the Church and also, perhaps at this stage more importantly; how sexism, homophobia  and transphobia have no place in Christian society.  Jesu, Mercy; Mary, pray.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

C.of E. Bishop Challenges Gafcon Homophobia

Listing ‘violators’ of Lambeth Conference resolution is ‘outrageous’, says Bishop

Madeleine Davies by Madeleine Davies – ‘ CHURCH TIMES’ Posted: 18 Nov 2016 @ 12:30

ISTOCK

Click to enlarge

A LIST that names people in the C of E who are said to have violated a Lambeth Conference resolution on sexuality has been labelled “outrageous” by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam.

The list was compiled and circulated by the conservative Anglican group GAFCON as evidence of how widely the Church of England is deviating from Lambeth 1.10, a resolution passed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference which rejected same-sex blessings and described homosexual practice as “incompatible with scripture”.

LGBT Christians have described the GAFCON list as “a pretty shoddy attempt” and responded by producing their own. The “Rainbow List”, compiled by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), includes LGBT Christians and “straight allies”. The organisation said that, within hours of the publication of the original list, there was “a growing chorus of inclusive voices asking one question: ‘Why am I not on that list?’”

The GAFCON list appears in a briefing to sympathetic Primates, published on Sunday, headed “the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial”. It says that the C of E has “crossed the line by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are increasingly prevalent”.

Those accused of having violated the Resolution include priests who have entered civil partnerships or same-sex marriages, and those who have officiated at ceremonies for such or blessed them. It gives examples of people who “openly advocate for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, and states that “ordination committees and bishops are overlooking violations of Lambeth 1.10, handing out insignificant disciplinary measures”. The list of violations is “partial”, it says. It calls on the House of Bishops and the General Synod to “take constructive steps to rectify the numerous . . . breaches that have been strategically taken by some to undermine the teaching of the Communion”.

In a letter to the Church Times (Letters, page 17), the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, calls the list “outrageous”, and cites passages from scripture in his rebuke. “To name individuals in this statement is wrong, creates a climate of fear, and opens them to personal abuse,” he writes. The list also includes a “great deal of inaccuracy”.

Bishop Holtam quotes Lambeth 1.10’s call to “minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”, and notes GAFCON’s “repeated violations” of the resolution’s statements on how Provinces relate to one another.

“Though the institutional Church has at times seemed to find their very existence an ‘inconvenient truth’, God made LGBT people, loves them, and preserves them,” he writes.

Among those listed is the Deputy Senior Chaplain at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who described it on his blog as “an open invitation for people to harass those named in it. . . Yet the targets are proud to be named there, having nothing of which to be ashamed.” The “lazy, inaccurate and vindictive little essay has proved a rallying point for the forces of love, inclusion, and change”.

Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, listed as someone who “openly advocates for breaking Lambeth 1.10”, said that the list had proved that “the world hasn’t stopped turning or the Church fallen apart. God is still sovereign in his Church, and working powerfully through his people — gay, straight, civil-partnered, married, and single. The blessing is there for all who have eyes to see.”

The LGBTI Mission said that it was “confident that the bishops will recognise this bullying tactic for what it is”.

Nominations for the LGCM list are being canvassed until 9 December. Permission from all nominees will be sought before publication.

______________________________________________________________

Is GAFCON getting so desperate it feels the need to ‘OUT’ Gays who are part and parcel of the clerical staff of the Church of England? Is this part of a process towards a takeover bid for the soul of the Anglican Communion?

In what would appear to be a declaration of war on the Mother Province of the Anglican Communion, the Gafcon Primates have stooped to the level of ‘outing’ anyone in the Church of England who has  been brave enough to admit the fact that they are, by nature, intrinsically gay-oriented.

Quite apart from the propriety of such a move, what on earth is to be achieved by opening up the possibility of calumny and persecution of a minority group in the Church who have, themselves, braved both public and Church discrimination – against something they have been ‘gifted’ with – their sexual difference from the majority.

There is, of course, much more at stake for the Gafcon Primates. In order to promote their own version of so-called Christian piety – by demonising LGBTQI people in the Church of England – they hope to gather worldwide Anglican support for their prejudice against such people, even though the modern world does not agree with their diagnosis of what they see as a delinquent minority in the Church that seeks to ‘promote’ a way of life that Gafcon does not agree with and which they see as contrary to the message of the Gospel. They really believe that Gays have a choice – to be Gay or heterosexual!

The recent statement by a local Pentecostal Pastor in New Zealand, self-proclaimed ‘Bishop’ Brian Tamaki; that recent earthquakes here in Canterbury, New Zealand. are the direct evidence of the ‘wrath of God’ against ‘sexual sins’ (especially homosexuality) – including the New Zealand Government’s legalisation of same-sex marriage; has met with a storm of righteous indignation – from both Churches and local communities.

This is just the sort of scandalous behaviour on the part of a ‘Christian’ Leader that brings Christianity into disrepute. And it is precisely this fear-induced paranoia that fuels the activities of homophobic groups like the Gafcon Primates, and others who discriminate against a class of people that has no other way of being, that enables the persecution of Gays in countries like Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya (all territories with the Gafcon enclave) that fail the standards of modern jurisprudence and civil human rights.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments