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Anglican ecclesiology has its own integrity

17 July 2015


From the Revd Antony Dutton

Sir, — I was astounded by the ecumenical naïvety demonstrated by Mr Glenny and Mrs Allison-Glenny concerning her inability to lay on hands during his ordination (News, 3 July; Letters, 10 July).

The answers to their grievance are helpfully provided by the C of E spokeswoman who explains the canon law with which they are unhappy. In fact, Mrs Allison-Glenny answers her own question: “His mother is ordained and can lay a hand on him, but I can’t.” Quite.

But what I find more worrying is that Mr Glenny (with his wife) has been allowed to reach this stage of his vocational journey and still not know these not-so-subtle points of Anglican ecclesiology. Surely someone has at least explained the theology of priesthood and the associated liturgy, the threefold order of ministry, and the reality of the present ecumenical situation — or encouraged him to find out.

If, after gaining this information, one chooses to disagree with that theology, then that is another matter. Yet one has to be sufficiently informed so that when standing before the bishop one can affirm one’s “loyalty to this inheritance of faith”, of which the “Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons” is part. Only then can the Declaration of Assent be made with integrity.

The “news” here is not an apparent injustice, but the fact someone is being ordained a priest into a Church whose theology he does not understand, or worse, from which he actively dissents. Please let us waste no Synod time on this issue as requested by the couple.


The Vicarage, 15 The Paddock
Great Sutton, Cheshire CH66 2NN


From Laurie Andrews

Sir, — Your report about the Baptist minister prevented from laying hands on her husband at his ordination reminded me of a security lecture I attended with a colleague on the chaplaincy team, a small white-haired RC nun, when I was Quaker prison minister at HM Prison/YOI Chelmsford.

The prison officer giving the talk said the only bodily contact allowed between volunteers and prisoners was “a firm hand shake with outstretched arm”. Sister Philomena said: “Sometimes, officer, a prisoner will ask me to lay hands on them and say a prayer for healing. Would that be allowed?”

He replied sharply: “The only people who lay ’ands on the prisoners in ’ere are us — and it is not with the purpose of ’ealing.”


3 Lawling Avenue, Heybridge
Maldon, Essex CM9 4YT

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