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 Church of England and Lambeth I.10
Lambeth I.10 is the authoritative teaching of the Anglican Communion on sexuality because it accurately articulates the biblical revelation about human sexuality. It is well known that The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and Scottish Episcopal Church have violated Lambeth I.10 for over a decade. In recent years, the Church of England’s compliance with Lambeth I.10 has been under scrutiny, and the release of the Pilling Report[i] and the process of “Shared Conversations” have only heightened concerns around the Communion, and within England itself[ii].
The last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 will include meetings of the Church of England’s House of Bishops and the General Synod. Many are asking whether or not the Church of England will “hold the line” on sexuality. Unfortunately, the lines drawn by Lambeth I.10 have already been crossed, in some cases, going as far back as 2002. This document catalogues some of the ways in which Lambeth I.10 has been violated within the Church of England.
What is Lambeth I.10?
Lambeth I.10 was passed at the Lambeth Conference in 1998. The text of the resolution is below:
Resolution I.10 Human Sexuality
a. commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality ;
b. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
c. recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
d. while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialization and commercialisation of sex;
e. cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;
f. requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;
g. notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.
Lambeth I.10 draws lines that are robust and biblical, identifying sex as only appropriate within the marriage of a man and a woman, and not allowing for the legitimising of same sex unions regardless of sexual activity.
The History of Lambeth I.10 in the West
In following the trajectory of The Episcopal Church, Church of Canada, and Scottish Episcopal Church there has been a clear pattern of violations. In each case Lambeth I.10 was first breached at various local levels. When the dioceses and provinces either could not or would not bring order and discipline at the local level, the number of violations increased. Some Provinces have claimed to be in compliance because they had not, at the provincial level, changed the teaching of the church by authorizing official rites for the blessing of same-sex marriage and/or altering church canons to allow for such rites. For example, for decades The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and Scottish Episcopal Church allowed for a variety of practices
that legitimised same-sex unions, while stopping short of an official change to provincial liturgies and canons. This included:
• services of thanksgiving for a same-sex civil union in local parishes,
• blessing ceremonies in local parishes,
• rites that were authorized by dioceses but not officially by the province,
• same sex civil unions for both laity and clergy,
• the promotion of such activities by bishops, clergy, and influential lay leaders.
• the lack of discipline for those engaging in such activities,
In each of these cases Lambeth I.10 was violated. The fact that those who made these changes carried on in their leadership roles without significant discipline is not merely a matter of timing, but also causation. The failure to uphold Lambeth I.10 and properly discipline those who had violated it contributed to an atmosphere that legitimised these actions, spread their influence, and contributed to the later change in provincial liturgies and canons. This causation was well understood by clergy promoting the violation of Lambeth I.10, and employed strategically. The chaos was eventually resolved in each province, not by restoring Anglican teaching and proper order, but by enshrining the violations of Lambeth I.10 through formal mechanisms (canons and liturgies) that allowed for ‘a variety of pastoral responses.’ This perspective was articulated in 2013 by The Rev Jonathan Adams a priest at St Thomas’ Church in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, “church law stands until a large body of people are breaking it and then it gets adapted.” http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/insight-same-sex-church-marriage-4436265
Given this history in which provinces have payed lip service to Lambeth I.10 while simultaneously allowing, at local levels, actions that have undermined the Communion’s teaching, it is fair to ask whether or not the Church of England has tolerated actions that legitimise same sex unions or sex outside of matrimony between a man and a woman.
The Situation in England
There are a number of instances of bishops within the Church of England exercising proper church order. In particular, The Rev. Clive Larsen and the Rev. Jeremy Pemberton both had their ability to minister as clergy restricted when they entered into same-sex marriages. However, in other parts of the Church of England there are violations of Lambeth I.10 that remain unresolved. Below is a partial list[iii]:
Clergy have officiated over same-sex unions and marriages and remained in office:
The Rev. Dr. Martin Dudley, Rector of Great St. Bartholomew in London, officiated at the civil partnership of Peter Cowell and David Lord in 2008. Rev. Dudley has remained Rector of St. Bartholomew’s. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2135081/Controversial-vicar-investigated-after-Anglican-churchs-first-gay-wedding.html
The Rev. Charlotte Bannister-Parker, a priest from the Diocese of Oxford, officiated at a celebration of the marriage of Mpho Tutu to her partner Marceline Van Furth in South Africa. The Rev. Charlotte Bannister-Parker remains a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Oxford. http://city-press.news24.com/Trending/mpho-tutu-weds-in-style-20160508
Retired clergyman Rev. Colin Coward officiated at a “ceremony of commitment” on July 23, 2016 for the Rev. Clive Larsen and his partner at St Agnes Church in the Diocese of Manchester. The Rev. Larsen later resigned from his position; the Rev. Coward apparently holds no license[iv]. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/the-bishop-made-clear-to-me-that-there-would-be-consequences-mee/
In 2005, The Rev Christopher Wardale and Malcolm Macourt, a retired academic, attended a service in St Thomas the Martyr church in Newcastle after a civil partnership ceremony in the nearby Civic Centre. The blessing was given during the sermon, which was preached by the former bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev David Jenkins. The couple failed to tell the Bishop of Durham at the time, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, of their plans and made it clear that they would refuse to give him any assurances about their behaviour in the bedroom. The Rev. Wardale was not disciplined and continues to take services as a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Newcastle. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1506074/Church-blessing-for-homosexualvicar.html
Clergy have entered into same-sex marriages and remained in office:
The Rev. Andrew Forshew-Cain has been the Vicar of St Mary’s and St James, in the Diocese of London, since 1998. He is married to his partner Stephen. He remains Rector of St. Mary’s and St. James, and was elected to the Church of England’s General Synod. http://www.newsweek.com/gay-vicar-church-england-embarrassing-mess-marriage-gay-lgbt-496642?rx=us
The Rev. Paul Collier is a priest at the Copleston Church Centre in south London (Diocese of Southwark) who has entered into a same-sex marriage. The Bishop of Woolwich issued a mild rebuke, and Rev. Collier remains active in clergy leadership at his church[v]. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/another.gay.anglican.priest.marries.long.term.partner/92022.htm
Clergy are permitted to enter into same-sex civil partnerships as long as they are willing to give their assurance to their bishop that they are not sexually active. This practice is allowed in the Church of England, but is a violation of Lambeth I.10 which does not recognise this distinction. The overall number of clergy in civil unions is not known, but The Rev. Andrew Foreshew Cain has referenced 70 clergy of whom he is aware. The most high-profile example is that of The Rev. Jeffrey John, Dean of St. Alban’s Cathedral. He has been in a long term same-sex relationship, is now in a civil partnership, and actively lobbies for a changing the Church’s teaching on sexuality. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9421350/God-backs-gay-marriage-says-Dr-Jeffrey-John.html
Some bishops have actively recruited into their diocese, those who have knowingly broken Lambeth I.10. For example, the Diocese of Liverpool has recently made The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia an Honorary Assistant Bishop in Liverpool. Bishop Goff has actively supported The Episcopal Church’s violations of Lambeth 1.10 and been involved in litigating orthodox congregations. http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2016/05/companion-link-sees-us-bishop-take-assisting-role-in-liverpool.aspx
The Diocese of Liverpool has also recently appointed an Episcopal Diocese of Virginia priest, The Rev. Jennifer McKenzie, as an Archdeacon, thus contributing to the normalization of the false teaching of The Episcopal Church within the Diocese of Liverpool. http://www.liverpool.anglican.org/index.php?p=1549
Jeffrey John was invited to preach a sermon in support of same-sex marriage in the Liverpool Cathedral on May 29, 2016. http://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/did-jesus-heal-the-centurions-gay-lover/comment-page-1/#comment-339826
Laity are permitted to “follow their conscience” and cannot be excluded from the sacraments or positions of leadership even if they are in violation of the Church’s teaching. Across England, those in same-sex marriages or civil unions, living contrary to the biblical call to holiness may not be refused communion. In addition, being in a same-sex marriage or civil union cannot keep a layperson from being elected to leadership on the parish council, diocesan council, or General Synod. A recent example comes from the Church of England’s Diocese of Europe. Nigel Rowley, an active member of St. Alban's Church in Copenhagen, a long standing Diocesan Synod representative and a member of the Church of England’s recent facilitated conversations on human sexuality was married on Saturday 13 August, 2016 in the Lutheran Cathedral in Copenhagen. He and his partner Mikel were married by the Bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen. The website of the Diocese of Europe highlighted the story commenting that: “The current Church of England rules on same sex marriage meant that they could not marry in the church where Nigel serves enthusiastically and where he is much loved. However, our formal Porvoo links allowed the Lutheran Church in Denmark to conduct the ceremony. The bishop and members of the Cathedral were happy to marry them so that they could be blessed with a church celebration in their own city of Copenhagen and with many members of St Alban’s there to wish them well." http://europe.anglican.org/news/news/post/1127-long-standingsynod-member-benefits-from-a-porvoo-partnership-
Clergy in the Church of England are not allowed to “bless” same-sex marriages, but have done so for many years without discipline. According to the Telegraph, the practice of offering services for same-sex couples that are similar, but not identical to marriage services has been going on since at least 2002. One vicar said: "On average, I tend to perform about four same-sex blessings a year. Sometimes it seems like I do more homosexual blessings than ordinary church weddings.” A colleague in south-east London said his church had an open policy of blessing same sex unions and even announced blessings in the parish notices. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1410695/Vicars-bless-hundreds-of-gay-couples-a-year.html
Clergy in the Church of England are allowed to offer “prayers of support” for a couple in a same-sex relationship. A number of clergy and their churches are offering services and prayers that comply with the rules of the Church of England, but violate Lambeth I:10 The Church of England’s website on marriage says, “… although there are no authorized services for blessing a same-sex civil marriage, your local church can still support you with prayer.” The nature of these prayers has been left ambiguous, and therefore allows for a variety of pastoral responses, many of which violate Lambeth I.10. https://www.yourchurchwedding.org/article/information-for-same-sex-couples/
St. Mary and St. James, where Andrew Foreshew-Cain is Vicar, has registered their church hall to perform civil ceremonies so that there can be an easy transition from the civil ceremony in the church hall to a prayer for the couple in the church sanctuary. http://www.churchnw6.co.uk/church/marriages-and-civil-partnerships/
From York Minster Cathedral: “Chapter clergy will offer support and guidance to all who want to live in loving, faithful, committed relationships whatever their gender. Same sex couples are invited to approach the Chapter clergy and should expect a warm welcome and affirmation. After a conversation with one of the Chapter clergy, couples entering a Civil Partnership are welcome to attend any service at the Minster, with friends and family if they so wish, to hear the scriptures, pray, and, where appropriate, receive Communion. Normally this would occur as near as possible to the civil registration of the Partnership. http://www.yorkminster.org/worship-and-choir/same-sex-relationships-and-civilpartnerships.html
Christ Church, Shooter’s Hill offers to “conduct a service of thanksgiving after a ceremony.” http://www.christchurchshootershill.org/weddings/
St. Mark’s, Sheffield "…affirms Civil Partnerships and celebrates with couples who enter lifelong commitments. Approaches are welcomed from couples who have registered, or are about to register their Civil Partnership and wish to explore how their relationship could be affirmed within the life of the church.” http://www.stmarkssheffield.co.uk/essentials/beginnings-belongings-endings/civil-partnerships/
St. Mary of Eton Church, Hackney Wick (east London): see footnote[vi].
Clergy and lay leaders are allowed to use their positions of leadership to advocate for the violation of Lambeth I.10: Members of the Pilling Commission revealed an openness to considering violations of Lambeth I.10: “…we do not all believe that the evidence of Scripture points to only one set of ethical conclusions. In short, Christians who share an equal commitment to Scripture do not agree on the implications of Scripture for same sex relationships.” (para 235). Church of England clergy openly advocate for violating Lambeth I.10 through advocacy organizations such as Changing Attitude, Accepting Evangelicals, Diverse Church[vii], and Synod Evangelicals for Good Disagreement.
Jayne Ozanne is an LGBT activist in the Church of England, and a member of General Synod. A founder of the Synod Evangelicals for Good Disagreement, she openly advocates for breaking Lambeth I.10.
The Revd Canon Simon Butler[viii] is also a public advocate for breaking Lambeth I.10. He has been in a long term same-sex relationship, is Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury in General Synod, and a member of the Archbishop’s Council. http://queerchurch.com/?p=46423
The Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham has published the book, “A More Perfect Union” which advocates for same-sex marriage. He also spoke recently at the “Queering Paradigms” Conference in 2016. His keynote address, “Same-sex marriage and the queering project of Jesus” advocated for same-sex marriage. He remains a Bishop in good standing in the Church of England. https://queeringparadigms.com/2016/03/27/queering-paradigm-7-cfp/
The Rev. Sarah Jones joined other clergy in a social media campaign called “Out4Marriage” which openly advocates for same-sex marriage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na2zW-1i2TA
The Rev. Rachel Mann identifies herself as a transgender lesbian. She is Rector of St. Nicholas Burnage, a Minor Canon of Manchester Cathedral, and is an advocate for violating Lambeth I.10. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/transgender.priest.made.minor.canon.at.manchester.cathedral/37934.htm
The Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool and Vice-Chair of the Church of England’s Evangelism Committee supports same-sex civil unions and removing the requirement for celibacy. He has said, “I’ve learned to respect the experiences of people who want to celebrate and express their sexuality, and be within the church.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/16/senior-bishop-change-church-ofengland-attitudes-gay-people
The Church of England website highlighted an article in the Telegraph about one of their senior leaders who had been named one of the “Top 50 LGBT Executives Making A Difference In Business.” Lee Marshall is the Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary at the Church of England Pensions Board, and has been the founder or is a current trustee of multiple LGBT advocacy organizations that support the violation of Lambeth I.10. He is also the cofounder of Church House LGBT Support Network for staff employees of the Church of England. https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2016/02/cofe-senior-manager-recognised-in-two-national-lgbt-awards.aspx
It is reported that ordination committees and bishops are overlooking violations of Lambeth I.10, handing out insignificant disciplinary measures, and in some cases celebrating with same-sex clergy couples: “gay ordinands in sexual relationships are getting the nod through while appearing to comply with the selection procedures; and clergy are having sex in their civil partnerships. Priests are offering services of blessing and thanksgiving to gay and lesbian couples and parishes celebrating with them. The bishops all know this, and many even collude in the dishonesty around the current position with private words of support and public obedience to the official line. One recently married priest I know of was invited into the episcopal study, handed his letter of discipline and then the bishop’s wife arrived with two gin and tonics—and as she said ‘congratulations,’ the bishop toasted the new couple.” http://www.newsweek.com/gayvicar-church-england-embarrassing-mess-marriage-gay-lgbt-496642?rx=us
The Blessing of Gay Pride Parades
In 2016 the dioceses Chichester (in Brighton[ix]), York, and Salisbury all held events during the Gay Pride Parades. Some of their clergy walked in the parades and in some cases opened the parades with prayers of blessing. While reaching out to the LGBT community could be an example of evangelism, the ways in which these events unfolded have been ambiguous at best and at worst are at odds with Lambeth I.10. One example is here: https://www.facebook.com/spirefm/videos/vb.123993850962952/1330343006994691/?type=2&theater
This is a partial list of the violations of Lambeth I.10 in the Church of England. While orthodox believers certainly hope that the Church of England does not go further in violating Lambeth I.10, the situation in England as it currently stands is already a scandal within the Anglican Communion.
To restore order and a credible Christian witness, the upcoming meetings of the House of Bishops and General Synod would need to not merely avoid going further in violating Lambeth I.10, but it would need to take constructive steps to rectify the numerous public (and presumably private) breaches that have been strategically taken by some to undermine the teaching of the Communion.
[i] The problems inherent in the Pilling Report were catalogued in detail by Bishop Keith Sinclair, a member of the Pilling Commission who filed a dissenting minority report. The full report can be read here: http://www.anglican.ink/article/minority-statement-pilling-report
[ii] The concern in regards to the Shared Conversations, a method by which CoE officials have sought to find compromises on sexuality and order, was articulated well by Christian Concern: “St. Paul does not convene a Synod to discuss the merits of sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness in the church, he simply puts out the unrepentant and offending parties (1 Cor. 5).” http://christianconcern.com/our-concerns/same-sex-marriage/teetering-on-the-brinkshared-convulsions-at-synods
[iii] This list consists only of cases which are in the public domain and which are available to view on the internet. Many of the cases have already received considerable coverage in the media, and are simply being collected here for ease of reference.
[iv] The service at St. Agnes took place “in front of 200 well-wishers and eight members of clergy.” The first version of this document assumed that the Rev. Coward had a license from his diocese, and permission to officiate from the Diocese of Manchester. The Bishop of Salisbury has now clarified that the Rev. Coward does not have a license in his diocese. Currently it is not clear how a priest living in Salisbury diocese who does not hold a license was able to lead a service at St. Agnes in the diocese of Manchester. We will update this post if more information is made available by the bishops of Salisbury and Manchester.
[v] This item has been amended. The Rev. Paul Collier is no longer a member of General Synod as was reported in the original version. Some reports (eg in the link provided) have incorrectly identified the Rev. Collier as a priest at St. Hugh’s Church. He remains a priest in good standing in his Diocese.
[vi] St Mary Eton: at the time of writing and posting the original report, this church offered the following service on their website: “If you are a lesbian or gay couple and would like to mark your commitment in church with prayers of thanksgiving please contact the Churchwardens to discuss what you are thinking of doing to mark this important time of your life and how St Marys might be able to support you". http://www.stmaryofeton.org.uk/ This page has now been removed from the church's website.
[vii] According to some reports, Diverse Church have denied that they are campaigning for a change in the Church’s teaching, and have asked to be removed from this listing.
[viii] Some details concerning Canon Butler’s titles have been corrected from the original version.
[ix] In the original version, ‘Brighton’ was incorrectly listed as a Diocese. Brighton’s gay pride was supported by the Diocese of Chichester.