Monday 26 May 2008

Heads or Tails

One point I have made in the recent past is that providing non-geographical Church of England dioceses for male only ministry would set up structures to allow in GAFCON type boundary crossings. It does follow, however, that a straight and no-protection for dissidents vote for equality of the sexes at bishop level will give GAFCON extra excuse for its new invasions, even if it too has associates who ordain women. Noting that apparently, at this Market Bosworth gathering, despite Rowan Williams apparently having argued for such divisive if protecting structures, GAFCON will at some point have to declare him "heretical" (or at least utterly ineffective regarding "heresies").

It all happens in July too: the Lambeth Conference and the Church of England General Synod - when this matter arises. The betting is that a straight vote won't go through, rather as in the Church in Wales a little while back.

In my searching around I came across this account, by a disagreeing Anglican, of the consecration of a female bishop in the United Kingdom to the Open Episcopal Church. It comes from 2003. Since then Elizabeth Stuart, who is known for her output of 'Queer Theology' at the University of Winchester, has moved on to head the Liberal Catholic Church International in the UK and Ireland, though it seems very depleted, and indeed there is only one clergy member in Bristol other than her. A male ordained of them became independent and eventually joined the Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church, a Church like the Open Episcopal Church (headed by the media friendly Bishop Jonathan Blake) which seems to be planning its own small scale expansion. Except that in the last few days its website has expired.

It is interesting to compare the Open Epscopal Church (OEC), and I'll add in the Old Catholic Church in Europe (OCCE) and various Liberal Catholic Churches. The OEC is attempting to be the most ordinary and mainline independent Church in the UK and values ecumenical gatherings - it is just socially inclusive regarding ministry, blessings and an open eucharistic table under Jonathan Blakes leadership (and all this he stated in his own words to me in an email). The Old Catholic Church in Europe like the OEC relates back to Arnold Harris Mathew, but the OCCE treats this with more importance than the OEC. The OCCE does this, because of the rejectionist statements about Arnold Harris Mathew that still come from the Utrecht Union of Old Catholics. However, the OCCE rejects the Liberal Catholic element that was also Theosophical and acquired some clergy that left another independent Church that still valued Theosophy. The Liberal Catholic Churches all recognise the importance of the Catholic and Theosophy bishops Wedgewood and Leadbeater as founders, though the importance of theosophy as such is variable and even less emphasised - that history of Theosophy is usually a means towards a more general liberalism and towards the generally esoteric (magical side of supernaturalism). Leadbeater never saw Theosophy as being a necessary permanent feature. The Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church still gives a good nod to its Unitarian element, both in past personnel before it and via recognition of the other turn of events around the same time of Wedgewood and Leadbeater that formed Free Catholicism with Joseph Morgan Lloyd Thomas and, somewhat independently, but with apostolic succession, the ex-Unitarian denomination minister Ulric Vernon Herford, who set up his own version of Liberal Catholicism- but who became a Church of the East route to every variety of independent bishop as well as Free and Liberal Catholic independents.

And so to a website update: a new Pluralist Website page on Where are the Liberal Catholics in the UK? Having just found another batch, it is a new page that I have further just updated. They are all scattered and somewhat relatively invisible (made better by the Internet), but the page started by comments by one in the know and then followed through by me. Meanwhile, given the patriarchal nature of the Bible and religion, I have a webpage about the Biblical demand for the urinal.

There is a page about Episcopi Vagantes and Independent Catholics on the Anglican David McClean's website. It is unfortunate that he should mention Gary Beaver along with short explanations and connections to others.

The final point is this: ordaining and consecrating women does change the nature of the Church. Most females ordained in the Church of England are fairly liberal, and consecrating women will have an effect on broadening the Church of England out (about which it is in some desperate need). However, being socially inclusive and having some effect, as with the OEC, is not the same as or as far reaching as actually being liberal in identity, as with the Liberal Catholics.


Anonymous said...

hello. I saw your collection about LCC churches in UK. And I don't found The Grace Catholic Church in the list. It's a Independent Catholic Church. See:

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

It is now included.

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Elizabeth Stuart left the LCCI? LCCI's homepage was refreshed, and without her pictures and facts.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

More likely that Alistair Bate was alongside in that picture, and he moved to the LCAC some time ago after becoming independent and a bishop.