revrjw

Mar 132009
 

I wouldn’t normally draw your attention to such matters, but I have been asked by some members of WATCH if participants in the Affirming Liberalism network might like to help in supporting the cause of women bishops in the Church of England. It seems that this may be a legitimate concern of liberal Christians. (With apologies to non-Anglicans! )

WATCH has provided clarification of key issues that are currently being addressed by the Church of England, as well as a more detailed attached document which has been sent out to all WATCH members. These matters take a little time to read and digest, but they are highly significant issues of our day and it is good to be abreast of these developments, whether or not you decide to take action.

There is narrow window of opportunity (by next Monday 16th March) for some relatively simple action, if you so wish, by contacting the Clerk to the General Synod of the Church of England. Letters can be sent to David Williams, Clerk to the General Synod, Church House, Great Smith St, London SW1P 3AZ. You can also email your letter as an attachment to david.williams@c-of-e.org.uk Letters to be headed; “Women Bishops Legislation – Submission to Revision Committee”.

You may be aware that the General Synod of the Church of England voted through the Legislative Drafting Group’s proposals earlier this month and that the drafts have therefore been approved for a revision stage. Anyone is free to write to the Revision Committee to propose amendments before the close of business on March 16th.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, who chairs the legislative
drafting group (LDG) which drew up the proposals, moved that the Measure be
considered for revision in committee.
http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=70407

He said that the door is open to all proposals at this stage, even those which have
been voted down in previous Synods. These means people are able to press again for
the simplest possible provision for female bishops on exactly the same terms as men
in a single clause measure.

This is what WATCH is advocating because if women are to take their rightful part in
the institutional structure of the established church they must do so on equal terms
with their male counterparts. Otherwise there will be Bishops and Lady Bishops.

In legal terms this translates into retaining clause 1 of the Measure but deleting
clauses 2 & 3. WATCH again suggests that any provision for those opposed to the
ordained ministry of women should be at the discretion of the local bishop. If any
more formal provision is made for those opposed it should be of limited duration and
subject to periodic review. In legal terms this means any clause other than clause 1
of the Measure should cease to have effect after a prescribed period and should be
the subject of regular review up to that point.

The attached WATCH document gives detailed advice about possible amendments which is clear and easy to follow. The drafts themselves can be found at
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/papers/womenbishopsdebate/furtherreport 

It may also be  useful to be aware of two broad criticisms of the approach adopted
by the LDG.

The committee has approached its task as if the primary concern  was to regulate two
conflicting sets of rights – the rights of women clergy and the rights of those who
oppose the ordination of women as priests and bishops (paras 9 & 16 of GS1707).

However, there is a third group of people whose rights need to be taken into
account, namely the general population of this country.  They should have a right to
be served by an established church which is non-discriminatory. The approach taken
by the committee ignores this wider group and leads to a focus on the internal power
dynamics of the church rather than engaging with the people the church is called to
serve.

The concepts of ‘genuine theological conviction’ and ‘good conscience’ (paras 9 & 12
of GS 1707) have been used as the basis for a justification of structural provisions
for opponents of women’s ordained ministry. This language is incorporated into para
4 of new Canon A4. (‘members of the c-of-e may with a good conscience hold
theological convictions which render them unable to receive the ministry of female
bishops or priests’).

However, the criteria of ‘genuine’ and ‘held in good conscience’ are not relevant to
any argument about the validity of a theological conviction. The considered and
prayerful discernment of the General Synod is that the theological argument for
women priests and bishops is convincing. The sincerity Those who are unable to
receive the ministry of ordained women in the church are simply wrong and the
sincerity of their belief does not make them right.

Feb 032009
 

The Sheldonian Theatre, OxfordWe are now in a position to confirm more details of our second annual conference to be held on Saturday 6th June, in the beautifully refurbished Sheldonian Theatre.

The two confirmed speakers will be Canon Professor Keith Ward, formerly of Oxford University, speaking about Why the Scientific World View Confirms Liberal Christian Faith, and Canon Professor Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, speaking about Why Liberal Churches are Growing.

Costs will be £25 per person as previously published, but with a discount to £17.50 for full time students and ordinands. We will also be offering a group discount for groups of five or more.

Complete details can be found on the Oxford Conference 2009 page, and a revised application form can be downloaded from here. For group bookings please use this form instead. Update: The forms have now been updated to allow them to be filled in online before printing.

Early booking is advised, as places are expected to be booked quickly.

Picture of the Sheldonian Theatre originally uploaded by Drumaboy.

Apr 262008
 

In an ideal world, the lectures from the Affirming Liberalism conference in February would have been uploaded before now, but I hope you will consider this to be a pleasant late spring surprise! A PDF of Mark Chapman’s lecture can be downloaded here and Keith Ward’s will be uploaded in due course. I do hope you find them useful as we take forward their important ideas into our own situations.

Thank you to everyone who offered their thoughts and suggestions for the future. I have been able to act on some of these thus far.
Certainly another conference was requested, and after some deliberation, it has been decided to make this an annual (rather than biannual) event for now. As Mark Chapman said on the subject, ‘once organisations get too structured they frequently become self-absorbed and inward looking which is quite the reverse of Saturday.’

Therefore a date for your diary is Saturday 6th June 2009. This time we have opted for the magnificent and larger venue of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, just opposite Trinity College. By then this beautiful Sir Christopher Wren auditorium, which amongst other things is the setting for Oxford University graduation ceremonies, will have been fully refurbished and will be a most splendid setting for a major day conference. Some speakers are already booked, but there will be more details to follow.

There were also several requests for some teaching material, in the form of a DVD. This is being seriously considered and should it go ahead, it will be pitched at the level of a seekers course for those wanting to find a way into Christian faith in contemporary society. You may also like to know that the Modern Churchpeople’s Union is happy to promote some material about Affirming Liberalism on its stand at the Lambeth Conference.

I am aware that there were a good number of individuals who were offering their time and talents to forward a more liberal Christian agenda in the Oxford Diocese and beyond, and I was wondering if people would be interested in meeting up for a convivial working lunch in Oxford later on in the summer/autumn where we could pool ideas and make some further progress? Please use the “Contact Us” link above if you would like to participate and we will fix a date.

Thank you once again for all your interest and support as we seek to move forward.

 Posted by at 4:44 pm
Nov 092007
 

AFFIRMING LIBERALISM

A Church of England Network Supporting Liberal Christians in the Oxford Diocese…and Beyond.

‘Building bridges not barriers’

Inaugural Day Conference

Saturday 9th February 2008

Trinity College, Oxford

10am-4.30pm 

“Why the Future Belongs to Liberal Religion.”

Revd Canon Prof Keith Ward,

Professor of Divinity, Gresham College)

&

“Honest to God”: Reclaiming Liberal Christianity

Revd Dr Mark Chapman,

(Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon)

£25 including lunch in College Hall

£20 for full time students

Enquiries and booking to Rev Dr Richard Warden

Booking form can be downloaded from here.

www.affirming-liberalism.org.uk

Travel information by car can be found at:

http://www.parkandride.net/oxford/html/oxford_frameset.html

Maps of Trinity College can be found at:

www.trinity.ox.ac.uk/maps

 Posted by at 11:24 pm
Nov 092007
 

On its website the Church of England describes itself as

a Comprehensive Church… which has been enriched by the co-existence within it of three broad traditions, the Evangelical, the Catholic and the Liberal…”

It continues…

The Liberal tradition has emphasized the importance of the use of reason in theological exploration. It has stressed the need to develop Christian belief and practice in order to respond creatively to wider advances in human knowledge and understanding and the importance of social and political action in forwarding God’s kingdom.” www.cofe.anglican.org

Affirming Liberalism seeks to enhance this ‘enrichment’ of the Christian faith and support ordained and lay Christians of the Liberal Anglican tradition by:

  1. Affirming faith in Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection as revealing God’s limitless love to all humanity in this life and the next.
  2. Affirming the dynamic action of God’s Spirit in dispersing divine love throughout the world.
  3. Affirming the beneficial insights of biblical and historical criticism for our understanding of Scripture and Tradition.
  4. Affirming a free, questioning and philosophical approach to Christian faith through God-given reason.
  5. Affirming the profound significance of science and mathematics in forming a Christian worldview and understanding of the universe.
  6. Affirming the positive benefits of the social sciences in comprehending human nature and society, and in developing Christian ethics.
  7. Affirming the symbolic nature of religious language in creative worship which connects us to the divine.
  8. Affirming the vitality of the performing and creative arts in shaping a dynamic Christian vision of life lived in relation to God.
  9. Affirming open, creative conversation between Liberals, Evangelicals and Catholics to enrich our understanding of the Christian Gospel.
  10. Affirming open, creative conversation with other faith traditions and cultures to deepen our understanding of God.

 

For more details contact us through the contact form.

 Posted by at 10:29 pm