ACC is a valued and faithful servant
From Canon John Gibaut
Sir, — I have been curious about the Revd Dr Jesse Zink’s article on the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), “A spurned Instrument of Communion” (Comment, 15 March).
From the outset, I am wondering who, in fact, has spurned the ACC. Perhaps it is a reference to members of the press who would — not unnaturally — be more drawn to the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meeting, with the complexities and controversies accrued by both Instruments of Communion. That these Instruments are decidedly more newsworthy cannot make them any more significant than the Anglican Consultative Council.
Unlike the Primates’ Meeting, which meets irregularly, or the Lambeth Conference, which meets every ten to 12 years, the ACC continues to meet every three years. While Dr Zink is correct to note the shortened time for this year’s meeting of the Council in Hong Kong, it is also important to note the significantly shorter length of time scheduled for the 2020 Lambeth Conference.
As Dr Zink rightly points out, the ACC is the most representative of the Instruments of Communion, and, indeed, the most recognisably synodical body, composed of the elected lay, clerical, and episcopal representatives of the provincial Churches. Through the Anglican Communion Office, the Council co-ordinates international Anglican work in mission and evangelism, ecumenism, theological education, women in Church and in society, engagement with the United Nations, and the work of the Anglican Alliance in advocacy, relief, and development.
It supports the commissions and networks of the Anglican Communion. It is constitutionally the Instrument of Communion which formally recognises and admits provincial Churches as members of the Communion which are listed in “The Schedule” within the Constitution of the ACC.
The members of the ACC with their president, the Archbishop of Canterbury, gather for common prayer, Bible study, and regular celebrations of the eucharist. If it did no more than this, the Council would fulfil its role as an Instrument of Communion.
That it mandates, oversees, and supports the life and witness of the Communion in its day-to-day life, with a degree of humility, only merits a “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Director for Unity, Faith and Order
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew’s House
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP
Deanery not consulted over resource church
From the Revd Dyfrig Lloyd
Sir, — I write as a member of both the Cardiff deanery chapter and the Cardiff deanery conference.
I was somewhat taken aback to read the Bishop of Llandaff’s comments regarding the proposed resource church at St Teilo’s in Cardiff (News, 22 March). In her statement, the Bishop said, “the plans are also fully backed by the Deanery.”
It is true that the deanery chapter, on the whole, has been supportive of the idea of having a resource church in Cardiff: the idea was mooted before the present Bishop took office. It is true that the deanery chapter, on the whole, backed the new diocesan strategy, “Where Faith Matters”, which has as one of its key objectives the establishment of a resource church. I am, however, at a loss to see how the Bishop can meaningfully say that the plans for St Teilo’s to become the resource church are “fully backed by the deanery”, as neither the deanery chapter nor conference has been consulted, nor been a part of any discussion or process.
Indeed, the news that St Teilo’s was becoming the “first resource church in Wales” has come as much of a shock to the deanery of Cardiff as it has to the parishioners of St Teilo’s. This woeful lack of consultation, process, and communication at every level has resulted in dismay, hurt, and consternation among many within the deanery.
6 Rachel Close
Cardiff CF5 2SH
Explanation of cathedral’s closure during protest
From the Dean of Exeter
Sir, — I am sorry that the Revd Professor Tim Gorringe (Letters, 22 March) did not feel able to raise his concerns about the cathedral closure during a climate protest with us directly.
The cathedral was closed for a short period on the day of the climate-strike march in Exeter, not because of the presence of the 300-400 young people who were marching peacefully for a cause that we believe in, but because the police had warned us that the march was to be joined by members of a group whose stated aim is that of civil disobedience.
As inside the cathedral at that very time were several hundred young people rehearsing for a concert, we had a duty to ensure their safety, and we followed police advice to close our main door. Anyone who wished to enter the cathedral during this period, however, was welcomed in through a side door.
I am sure Professor Gorringe will be pleased to know that we have invited the organiser of the march and her parents to meet with us shortly to talk about how we can support them appropriately.
The Deanery, 10 Cathedral Close
Exeter EX1 1EZ
From Mrs Anne Foreman
Sir, — I was shocked to read Professor Tim Gorringe’s description of the doors of Exeter Cathedral being closed to the young climate-change protesters gathered outside.
As a member of the congregation and of the Cathedral Council, I know it to be a place dedicated to social action, with a range of services rich in liturgical style attracting diverse congregations.
Far from “singing praises to the god of the status quo”, the cathedral does not shy away from difficult or controversial issues, as can be seen from the current programme of activities, lectures, and courses during Lent.
12a Baring Crescent
Exeter EX1 1TL
Lambeth 2020 and bishops’ same-sex spouses
From the Bishop of Dallas
Sir, — Greetings in Christ. As a transatlantic reader of the Church Times, I want to offer a word of response to your report about Bishop Kevin Robertson (News, 15 March). We understand best as we follow the “charitable interpretation”, which attributes to the other wherever possible a good motive, even while we may consider him or her mistaken.
At the heart of the ongoing controversy in the Anglican Communion is a disagreement about the nature of marriage. In the case of planning for the Lambeth Conference, different theological commitments about marriage result directly in different conclusions about who should be invited.
I know Bishop Robertson to be a Christian of sincerity and integrity. The situation is, doubtless, painful for the spouses involved. But describing the motives of Primates of the Global South (and others, including many in the C of E) as “homophobic” fails to attribute to them an equally sincere conviction, one borne of a serious effort to hear the scriptures.
Better to offer a countervailing argument, as Bishop Robertson does in his comparison with divorce (though it is not mentioned in Lambeth 1.1 0); better to recognise the complexity of the present situation, within which Archbishop Welby must act.
We do best to understand others charitably. While I disagree with him, I can hear in Bishop Robertson a desire that the Communion be inclusive, from his point of view. But most charitable would be to recognise that the widest possible inclusiveness of the whole global Communion is exactly what the Archbishop is after. Hence the importance that bishops of every continent and persuasion gather to think and pray how we can live together in the most charitable way possible.
GEORGE R. SUMNER
The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
1630 N. Garrett Avenue
Texas 75206 7702, USA
BBC letter was broadcasting veteran’s swansong
From Dr Chris Angus
Sir, — Last week you published a letter from Nigel Holmes (Letters, 22 March) under the headline “Religion in the BBC’s hands”. It is with great sadness that I have to report that Nigel died suddenly and unexpectedly just two days before his letter appeared.
I was responsible for asking that single question in General Synod about Songs of Praise to which Nigel refers, a question asked (and not the first one) at Nigel’s prompting. I am not sure that either of us expected it to be taken up by the press in quite the way that it was.
Nigel had a distinguished career as a producer in local broadcasting alongside his service to the Church as a Reader, as a long-term member of the General Synod, and in other capacities. In the Synod, he took a significant interest in religious broadcasting and was responsible for a number of private members’ motions on the subject. Just four days before he died, he spoke to the Carlisle diocesan synod with great passion and knowledge about the subject, and the general decline in the quantity and quality of religious broadcasting.
In his letter, he wrote: “Those with influence in the Churches, however, may soon need to defend that last bastion of what remains of religious broadcasting in this country: Radio 4.” It would be a fitting legacy if “those with influence” did indeed mount a strong defence of Radio 4’s religious output, should the need arise.
It would also be a fitting memorial to Nigel if the BBC could be persuaded to return Songs of Praise to a more appropriate slot. Perhaps the Archbishop of York, who answered my question in the Synod, might apply suitable pressure to the BBC before his forthcoming retirement.
Burtholme East, Lanercost
Brampton, Cumbria CA8 2HH
Poverty deprives girls of sanitary products
From the Revd Bob Weldon
Sir, — In the parishes where I am Vicar, and in the wider Churches Together in Folkestone, we make reasonable efforts to support the Night Shelter, Foodbank, and Foodstop. Sadly, sanitary-product poverty seems to have fallen under the radar.
Many young girls miss school monthly, as their parents and guardians are unable to supply the necessary products. This is the case in the school where I am a governor. We have recently become involved with a wonderful group, The Red Box Project. They place red boxes in churches, and we encourage the congregations to donate. The products are then collected and distributed to the necessary schools. My school is now being supplied with all their needs.
Although Philip Hammond has said that “provision will be made to secondary schools in the autumn,” this does not appear to include primary schools; nor does it include other needy and impoverished women. I would urge all churches to become involved. The Red Box Project is online. The biggest scandal is that VAT is applied to sanitary products, but not to Jaffa cakes or men’s razor blades.
The Trinity Benefice Vicarage
21 Manor Road,
Folkestone CT20 2SA
Boniface is not the only saint to be born in Devon
From Mr Reg Webb
Sir, — Your report on the campaign to make St Boniface patron saint of Devon (News, 22 March) has Cllr Nick Way stating that St Boniface is Devon’s only native saint. Having lived for some years in Barnstaple, I know that there is, at least, one other: St Cuthbert Mayne, born at Youlston, near Barnstaple, in about 1543-44.
Further research reveals St Urith of Chittlehampton, whose history and even dates are uncertain, but about the late sixth to early eighth century. She seems to have been born at Swimbridge (Glastonbury Commonplace Book, Trinity College Library, Cambridge).
The legend of St Sidwell of Exeter is very similar (if not identical). Her birthplace is not known, but likely to be close to Exeter. Her historical existence is not well established.
15 Molins Court, Bewbush
Crawley RH11 8NT
Society is working for more women organists
From Anne Marsden Thomas and Ghislaine Reece-Trapp
Sir, — We were delighted to read your report (News, 15 March) featuring the Society of Women Organists (SWO) member Anna Hallett’s questionnaire about recruiting and training organists for the future.
SWO celebrates the recent increase in the number of women in the organ world, but we are concerned that the increase is so modest. The current proportion of women across permanent cathedral positions, Oxford and Cambridge musical directorships, and professional recitalists is currently ten per cent or less; SWO envisions a future in which women and men are equally represented in these and other areas.
SWO dedicates itself to promoting, supporting, and recruiting women organists. We invite Church Times readers to join us for free (with donations gratefully received). Further details can be found at www.societyofwomenorganists.co.uk.
ANNE MARSDEN THOMAS
64c Coniston Road
London N10 2BN
From Rachel Graham
Sir, — Would your readers please pray in Jesus’s name the three verses of the National Anthem to be found in Hymns Ancient and Modern.
192 Butchers Lane, Mereworth
Kent ME18 5QE