08 January 2008

Bishop of Rochester undermines the work of the Church of England

Text of a Press Release issued today:
The announcement of the GAFCON conference shows how little concern the neo-conservative lobby has for the rest of the church. Michael Poon’s questions from Singapore were rejected in no uncertain terms. The failure to listen to the concerns of the Bishop of Jerusalem on the proposed conference was made abundantly clear.

Choosing Jerusalem for the meeting simply demonstrates that the neo-conservatives have little interest in the well-being of the Anglican Communion or of the Israel/Palestine situation – the last thing Jerusalem needs is another divisive conference.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s condemnation in the Sunday Telegraph of multiculturalism and remarks about ‘no-go’ areas are unhelpful, and likely to worsen rather than reduce community tensions. The ill-considered nature of his remarks is mirrored in his support for GAFCON and the Diocese of San Joaquin; in both cases he has taken up a position which undermines the work of the Church of England as it seeks to reflect God’s generous love for those of all faiths and none.

The role of a Bishop is to seek to serve and lead the Church and community constructively and supportively. It is not clear to us how the Bishop of Rochester can reconcile his current activities with his place in the House of Bishops.

His claim that ‘If it had not been for the black majority churches and the recent arrival of people from central and eastern Europe, the Christian cause in many of our cities would have looked a lost one’ seems to belittle the faithful witness of Anglicans and other Christians who live and worship in urban areas across Britain, care for the needy, welcome their neighbours of other faiths and challenge the despair, poverty and racial injustice which divide communities. He is however right to point out that the Bible teaches ‘that we have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in God's image’.

Inclusive Church looks forward to 2008. The preparations for the Lambeth Conference are going well. Those of us who support a church which is truly inclusive and truly welcoming are working closely together through the St Anne’s Network in the UK and our partner organisations across the world, so that the Listening Process called for in the Windsor Report can move forward and we can begin to celebrate the ministry of all people in the Church.

We look forward to a strong and engaged presence by Bishops across the spectrum of the Communion at the Lambeth Conference. We hope that those Bishops in the UK who are supporting the secessionist Dioceses in the USA will recognise the inconsistency of their positions and cease; and we look forward to celebrating our search for a deeper understanding of the love of God alongside Muslims, Jews and those of other faiths around the world in the coming year.

Savitri Hensman and Giles Goddard, for InclusiveChurch

8th January 2008