The Church of England response to the US Episcopalian consultation
From the Bishop of Buckingham, the Dean of Guildford, the Rt Revd David Gillett, the Revd Andrew Lightbown, 76 others of the clergy, and 36 members of the laity
Sir, — We have read William Nye’s letter to the Episcopal Church in the United States (News, 20 April) with considerable interest, surprise, and, to be honest, disappointment, and wish to dissociate ourselves from it.
Mr Nye writes about pressure from the Church of England to dissociate from the Episcopal Church. We think this is a misleading statement. Pressure may well come from various conservative groups in the Church of England, but (unless the content of the letter is tested synodically), he surely cannot claim to speak for the Church of England as a whole.
Mr Nye’s letter, written on Archbishops’ Council stationery, gives the impression that he was acting as an agent of the Council and its trustees and writing with its authority. But, as he acknowledges, his response is simply the fruit of conversations held among a small cadre of professional staff. As a governance matter, this will not, we think, do.
The letter refers to a majority belief in the Church of England that the only legitimate locus for sexual relationships is within heterosexual marriage. This sweeping assertion cannot, in fact, be substantiated, as the Church of England, to our knowledge, has never asked her regular worshipping community what it thinks and believes about this.
Given the House of Bishops’ work on human sexuality, now would be a good time to find out. Would it be too much to suggest a survey of worshippers on the middle two Sundays of October, the dates used for the compilation of mission statistics? We would not be surprised to find, for instance, that, among lay people, a majority would recognise same-sex relationships as a valid and joyous expression of human sexual loving, and would wish the national Church to allow for the liturgical affirmation of such relationships.
To discover what breadth of opinion is actually held within the Church of England would provide much-needed evidence to inform the Bishops’ teaching document and future communications with the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Communion as a whole.
ALAN WILSON, DIANNA GWILLIAMS, DAVID GILLETT, ANDREW LIGHTBOWN,
DAVID MEAKIN, MICHAEL SADGROVE, FRANCES WOOKEY, ROSIE HARPER, DIARMAID MACCULLOCH, MIRANDA THRELFALL-HOLMES, JONATHAN DRAPER, ROBERT THOMPSON, ANDREW TEAL, JANET FIFE, RICHARD COLES, CHARLOTTE BANNISTER-PARKER, HANNAH-LEWIS, KEVIN SCOTT, ANDY MARSHALL, NEAL TERRY, PETER LEONARD, COLIN COWARD, JEREMY DAVIES, WILLIAM LAMB, JEREMY FLETCHER, NADINE DANIEL, WYN BEYNON, PHILIP COCHRANE, ANDREW ALLEN, JONATHAN CLATWORTHY, ANDREW HAMMOND, NICHOLAS ELDER, SARAH BRUSH, BARRY NAYLOR, JULIAN HOLYWELL, DAVID RUSHTON, DAN BARNES-DAVIES, RICHARD WATSON, MIKE TODD, ANDREW DOTCHIN, CHRISTINE ALLSOPP, JAMES ROSENTHAL,SIMON KERSHAW, NIKKI SKIPWORTH, ANDREW FORESHAW-CAIN, MARJORIE BROWN, PRU DULLEY, RICHARD HAGGIS, MICHAEL ROPER, JEREMY PEMBERTON, DAVID AUSTIN, RICHENDA WHEELER, ALICE GOODMAN, SIMON RUNDELL, MARION CLUTTERBUCK, ALLIANDRA ALLISON, MARK PUDGE, DOMINIC HOLROYD-THOMAS, CATH HOLLYWELL, ELAINE DANDO, JONATHAN PAGE, DAVID VYVYAN, RORY REYNOLDS, SHARON ELDERGILL, JANE BRADBURY, JACQUELINE STOBER, TIMOTHY GOODE, ANTONIO GARCIA FUERTE, ROBERT KOZAK, DWAYNE ENGH, MARK LETTERS, BRUTUS GREEN, STUART CRADDOCK, ANDY ATKINS, SIMON ROBINSON, JULIA FRENCH, JANE CHAMBERLAIN, EMMA DUFF, AND BRUCE KINSEY (clergy); SCOTT PETERSON, SIMON SARMIENTO, ERIKA BAKER, TRACEY BYRNE, JAYNE OZANNE, TIM HIND, JENNY HUMPHREYS, MARTIN SKIPWORTH, SIMON CULLEY, RAH FROEMMING-CARTER, JEREMY TIMM, JAY GREENE, ROB EDLIN-WHITE, KATE ALLREAD, RICHARD WELLINGS-THOMAS, RICHARD ASHBY, STEVEN HILTON, JOSHUA CAMPBELL, SUE JONES, ALICE WATSON, RUTH WILDE, SALLY BARNES, HANNAH GRIVELL, PENELOPE COWELL-DOE, JUSTINE RICHARDS, LIZ BADMAN, MARY SUTTON, KISORI MORRIS, LAURA SYKES, FIONA MACMILLAN, NIC TALL, SUSAN STRONG, ANN MEMMOTT, CHRIS RICKARD, JACKIE TWINE, AND NICK BASSON (laity)