Archbishop Rowan Williams chairs English bishops’ meeting on gay crisis

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is jointly chairing a meeting today, 1 December at Lambeth Palace with the Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope to discuss the way forward over the homosexuality crisis in the Anglican Church with more than 50 Church of England bishops.

All 44 diocesan bishops and 10 suffragans have been invited to debate how to give a lead following the publication in October of the Windsor Report. “The meeting has been scheduled for some time, and it was foreseen that meetings of this kind would be needed right round the world as provinces come to terms with what the report was saying,” a Lambeth palace spokesman said yesterday. No statement on the outcome of the meeting would be forthcoming, he added.

The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, a conservative evangelical, will address today’s meeting. The Bishop of Willesden, the Right Rev Pete Broadbent, said: “It is important that the bishops give a lead on this matter. We are all committed to trying to stay together if we can.” Another source, an evangelical, said: “The meeting has been called at short notice. It has come out of discussions in October. It is being held so that the bishops are not all at loggerheads over this, so any fights and arguments are got out of the way before the meeting scheduled for January.”

The January meeting precedes the General Synod in February, when the Windsor Report and the crisis over homosexuality will be debated by bishops, clergy and laity in public for the first time.

The bishops are meeting on the day that Anglican evangelicals publish their own report warning that the Church’s Bible-based stance against active same-sex relationships, agreed at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, should not be “gradually eroded”. But in their assessment, Anglican Mainstream, the lobbying group set up to campaign against the appointment of Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading, and the Church of England Evangelical Council say that the Windsor Report has “fallen short” in recognising “the reality of human sin within the Church”. The evangelicals say that the report does not go far enough in calling for repentance.

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