Monday, June 16, 2008

GAFCONites Incensed by UK Blessing Service...Is Anyone Surprised?

Yesterday I suggested that much of the outrage  regarding a recent blessing of a civil partnership at St. Bart's in London was fueled by a few Anglican extremists, in the hope that it would help launch GAFCON. Some of the press reports now verify that this is the case:
..The couple's elaborate wedding ceremony at the historic St Bartholomew the Great church in London has incensed a breakaway Christian group, unhappy with the liberal agenda of western churches, which is due to meet next weekend in Jordan to decide whether it can still retain links with the Anglican communion...
A tangential point worth noting is that this is the first time in some months I've heard of the meeting in Jordan, which was to precede the pilgrimage in Jerusalem, still being scheduled. It appeared that the plan to meet in Jordan had been abandoned, possibly because leaders in Jordan were not pleased with one of Anglicanism's most outspoken Islamophobes, Abp. Akinola, spearheading the event. Is there a "meeting" happening in Jordan, followed by a "pilgrimage" in Jerusalem? They aren't telling. Most likely they're still afraid of wild-eyed protesters crashing their party, so the itenerary is being kept top secret. If they are meeting in Jordan, I wonder if the King has been informed? I would imagine that he might have some strong opinions about Abp. Akinola visiting his realm.

Returning to the press reports on the UK blessing, yesterday I suggested that the media were being used as pawns by the extremists to create a facade of outrage over an event that was hardly newsworthy, as nothing new really happened. I still suspect that the negative coverage is getting some of their information from the extremists' media contacts. You can hear the echo of their favorite lines in the stories:
A rector faces the sack after becoming the first clergyman to conduct a gay 'marriage' in an Anglican church.

The Rev Martin Dudley flouted Church of England rules by blessing two homosexual priests in a service that used a traditional wedding liturgy in which the couple exchanged vows and rings.

Details of the ceremony provoked fury among many senior ministers and fuelled the row over gay clergy which already threatens to tear apart the worldwide Anglican church.

Last night the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, ordered an urgent inquiry into the ceremony, which was held last month in one of the capital's oldest churches, St Bartholomew the Great...
Today it appears that I was mistaken when I painted all the media with the same brush. Consider, for example, this story by Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent for The Guardian, entitled "Gay priest resigns after furore over church blessing." Note that the term "blessing" is used, which is more accurate, even though less sensational, in comparison to the term "marriage," which seems to be the preference of most other reporters.

Then there is the matter of speculation regarding the rector getting "sacked':
...Dudley is the freeholder of St Bartholomew's, making it virtually impossible for him to be ousted. But he could face procedures which would involve someone proving there had been an irrevocable pastoral breakdown or that Dudley had acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman of the Church of England.

Nigel Seed, a church lawyer, said there was no prohibition on having a service after a civil partnership, provided it was not contrary to church doctrine.

"If you do not purport it to be a service of blessing there is nothing to stop couples from having prayers, hymns or a service of prayer and dedication," he said...
In other words, there may be an "investigation," but most likely Dudley is not going to get "sacked."

Riazat also points out that this is not an isolated event:
...Liturgies, such as the one Dr Lord and Mr Cowell participated in, have been taking place in New Zealand, Scotland and Canada. The presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, said: "Those services are happening in various places, including the Church of England, where my understanding is that there are far more of them happening than there are in the Episcopal Church."

The provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very Rev Kevin Holdsworth, described the experience of performing a same sex blessing as a "new addition to the range of things that human beings have wanted to mark."

On his blog he wrote about celebrating a Eucharist in circumstances which were new to him but which felt old and traditional all the same. As he helped the two men through their vows and then served communion to them and their friends in thanksgiving, he remarked: "People like me have been waiting for services like the one I celebrated today for so long.
My goodness, it certainly appears that someone has been visiting Jake's place! Imagine that.

Offering some background details for "real" reporters is one of the services that bloggers provide. Speaking personally, I prefer not to be mentioned in such reports, as that could lead to someone mistaking me for a "real" reporter. That would take all the fun out of this hobby, and might be cause to curtail some of the snark and humor. I'm content to be the little terrier nipping all the heels of the big dogs (those who know their archetypes may want to replace "big dogs" with "fools").

Thank you Riazat, for bringing a little balance to this story.

It crosses my mind that this is my second post on this fabricated "news" story. Am I also becoming a pawn for the extremists? Oh, what a tangled web we weave...


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