News round-up from Sheffield: 27/02

Version 3

Major news stories on equal ministry were breaking from Friday 24 to Saturday 25 February. From that first 36 hours there’s been an acceleration of online activity in the next 36 (i.e Sat 25 Feb to Monday 27 Feb). Here’s a round-up of some of what has happened.

SAME released a blog by Sue Hammersley: Sheffield Speaking Out: What Do We Want?(26/02) who said:

We don’t want Bp Philip North to suffer the humiliation and hurt that many of us have been through, in different ways. We want to transform the church, to be seen to be a people of hope and possibility, not an institution caught up in its own internal struggles.

But, those of us who have taken the risk of speaking out, want the Church of England to hear that this particular nomination cuts to the heart of what we understand by “mutual flourishing”. (See the full story.)

Re-reporting of the Archbishop of York’s article in the Yorkshire Post flowed, with Christian Today adding quotes from two bishops; first, Jo Bailey Wells who spoke of the healthiness of a church where “one member’s convictions are a source of pain to another”. Second,  Jan McFarlane Bishop of Repton asked: ‘If the church can’t witness to an ability to live together with difference, and be determined to look first for the flourishing of those with whom we disagree, then who can?”

There has been little to report on ID cards for certain male clergy, that became a significant area of focus on Friday. What occurred instead was a Twitter campaign to #reaffirm5 focussed, supportively, on the nominee for the Sheffield bishopric, which generated counter-reaction on the same hashtag including Nicole Brown from Sheffield, The Church Mouse and also Brett Gray who wonders if #reaffirm5 is the “CofE’s version of ‘all lives matter’, a truth misapplied to buttress structural wrong”.

Also from Sheffield a pastoral letter has been prepared to the nominee for the bishopric of Sheffield for private signing. It seeks to share “the level of pastoral anxiety and distress that has arisen in the Diocese since” the nomination. The letter asks for more opportunities of dialogue to help people in the Diocese make better sense of what has happened and also says to the incoming bishop, Philip North:

We want to assure you that we have no hesitancy about your heartfelt commitment to worship, spirituality, evangelism and social justice. These will be an inspiration to our life as a Diocese. (See the letter.)

The letter goes on to ask for more assurances:

as we believe, you are committed to unity and justice as our Bishop, we do need to ask, for the sake of our mental and spiritual health, for the opportunity to understand how your episcopate would not prove divisive, but rather, would further these gospel values in the life of the church. (See the letter.)

There is however an interesting blog about a liberal catholic ordinand preparing to be ordained by Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle that explores how ‘taint’ does and doesn’t help make sense of traditionalists flourishing in the Church of England. He narrates the reaction of peers to the idea of him being ordained by the suffragan Bishop of Berwick instead and concludes:

women training for ordination and those experienced in ministry are probably used to a certain level of unpleasantness, receiving the cold shoulder if not often direct misogyny. But young men like me are not. It is shocking to hear and receive so openly. (Go to the blog.)

Others have blogged about their personal and positive reflections about Mutual Flourishing, including Jo Chamberlain and Alice Whalley.

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