General Synod; questions and answers.

As some of you may know I am standing as a candidate for the House of Clergy representing the Oxford Diocese.

Candidates were recently forwarded three questions to answer in fewer than 120 words! The questions and my answers are below.

I have tried at all times to be up front, transparent and honest in my answers, as well as in my election address and ‘campaign video’ (both of which can be accessed through the Oxford Diocese website). I have sought to make sure that I am sufficiently candid for the electorate to know precisely what I stand for, and the line that I will take in various debates, if elected.

I have tried to avoid all ambiguity particularly in relation to issues of human sexuality, the nature of ‘Church leadership,’  the importance of the rural church and the democratization of the Church of England as a whole (this is explained in my answer to the third question).

Some will reject my views at the ‘ballot box’, others may vote in support them; that’s the nature of democracy.  But, what I would say is simply this: ‘what you see is what you get.’ 

Question: Given there are such strongly held differing views on the issue of human sexuality in our Church, how do you think the Church of England should approach the issue in the next five years? Reply: 120 word limit applies

The Church of England should approach the issue honestly and robustly recognizing that significant differences exist and, will continue to exist. The Church of England’s leadership must recognize that for many on, all sides of the debate, the moral standing of the Church is ‘at risk.’ The Church of England should respect the theological integrity of all, which it can do by applying the principle of subsidiarity; allowing each priest and congregation to act according to their conscience, free from bullying or coercion. This will mean establishing liturgies for the celebration of life-long, monogamous and faithful same sex unions without obliging any church, or priest, to adopt them.

Question: What role, if any, do you think the Church of England and its partner churches in the Anglican Communion might play in response to the world’s current needs? Reply: 120 word limit applies

The Church’s of the Anglican Communion and the C of E in particular need to play a significant role, if we are serious about the Kingdom of God here ‘on earth as in heaven.’ We can respond in three ways: First, by acts of love and charity, using our financial resources to fund agencies committed to assisting those experiencing a form of living hell. This will provide short-term assistance. Secondly, we must continue to seek longer-term justice by holding governments and supranational agencies to account. We must speak loudly and courageously in the knowledge that our words are validated by our deeds. It feels like a real ‘faith without works,’ moment in the life of the Church.

Do you think the ministry of the Church of England might need to change in the coming years, and, if so, what changes would you support in the selection and training of its lay and ordained leadership? Reply: 120 word limit applies

Whole scale reform is urgently required, including both ‘senior’ and grass roots leadership. The House of Bishops needs to become more representative. We need more bishops with significant rural expertise; we need more bishops from all sorts of ‘minority’ groups. We need bishops from a non stipendiary background. We need to widen the franchise for the election of bishops and we need to consider making bishops fixed term appointments. At the grass roots level we need to, both, promote and authorize lay ministries and increase the number of priests and deacons operating in a geographically defined area, making the training process far less burdensome and more role specific. The ‘appointees’ for grass roots leaders should be the community they serve.

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