Wisdom and folly: the bishops’ guidance on transgender welcome

The announcement on Tuesday of the House of Bishops’ guidance for the welcome of transgender people in the Church arose from a diocesan motion brought to General Synod in July 2017. There were several things about this debate which indicated how problematic the whole process was bound to be.

First, it was brought by Chris Newlands on behalf of Blackburn Diocese, and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, actually voted against the motion when it was debate in the diocese. Secondly, the wording of the motion was rather slippery: it did not ask the bishops to produce a liturgy for the welcome of transgender people, but asked them to consider whether such a liturgy should be devised. In that sense it was a ‘null’ motion: whatever you thought about the substantive issue, how could anyone object to asking the bishops ‘to think about it’, as they were of course at liberty to think about it and quickly say ‘no’. In fact, Richard Frith, the Bishop of Hereford and Vice-Chair of the Liturgical Commission, actually said in the debate that no new liturgy would be forthcoming, so we already had the answer. And, thirdly, there was a complete absence of any adequate theological reflection, either prior to the debate or during it.

Is the Bishops’ Policy on Civil Partnerships Sustainable?

The House of Bishops’ position on civil partnerships and same-sex sexual relationships is defined by three statements. The first is Issues in Human Sexuality, published in 1991 as a ‘discussion document’. When it was published, it had very mixed reactions, and I remember very clearly our whole-college debate about it in the college chapel when I … Continue Reading

What does it take to reimagine Britain?

Justin Welby had already left a significant legacy from the first half of his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury. The swift resolution to the inherited crisis of finding a workable settlement in relation to women bishops; the instigation of the Renewal and Reform programme; reorienting the Church’s administration and finances towards mission; the re-estalishment of … Continue Reading

Why we should listen to Vicky Beeching

Vicky Beeching, Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole and Living Free from Shame (William Collins, 2018)  Jayne Ozanne, Just Love: A Journey of Self-Acceptance (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2018) Andrew Atherstone writes: In a remarkable symbiosis, two new autobiographies have hit the shelves from two of the Church of England’s most prominent LGBT campaigners, published within a … Continue Reading