The Modern Churchpeople’s Union (MCU) is to publish ‘The Windsor Report – A liberal response‘, in February, before the General Synod debates the report. It has been edited by Jonathan Clatworthy, General Secretary of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union and David Bruce Taylor, a graduate in theology from Oxford University who worked for many years in publishing and is now retired. Bishop Jack Spong has written the foreword. Contributors include the Dean of Southwark, the Very Rev Colin Slee.
In an introduction to the book, MCU says the Anglican Church faces a crisis over questions of sexuality and authority, prompted by the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003. The most serious split in its history seems to be imminent, with liberals on one side and conservatives on the other. The Windsor Report, produced in November 2004 by the Eames Commission that was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way forwards without schism, seems to offer the last hope of reconciliation.
For the conservatives, it’s time to take a stand on biblical authority and moral values. For the liberals, if the Church can’t move forward with society and be more inclusive on questions of gender and sexuality, much as it has done in the past on questions like slavery and women’s rights, then schism is preferable to unity. Both sides feel that further procrastination on what they see as essential is only more damaging in the long term.
These cogently-argued articles by liberals closely involved in the discussion say that the kind of status quo offered by the Windsor report is no answer. There is too much at stake to continue compromising with the spirit of fundamentalism.
The Telegraph reports Jack Spong’s harsh criticism
According to The Telegraph the book “has slammed the Archbishop of Canterbury and other senior sources within the communion for taking a weak leadership on the issue of sexual diversity” and “will also accuse the Windsor Report, the response to the row over same-sex relationships and gay clergy, of being a “cheap” attempt at “damage limitation”.
The most scathing of the condemnations come in the foreword to the book, the newspaper reports, written by American liberal Rt Rev John Spong. Spong says that the Archbishop and his advisors have turned what could have been a minor debate into a “full scale disaster”. He argues that if a tougher line had been taken against anti-gay sentiment within the communion at an earlier stage, it would not be at its present point of schism. “The Anglican Communion had a relatively minor crisis as it watched a new consciousness about homosexuality struggling to be born in the face of ancient ignorance and prejudice.” “This commission, and the leadership that requested its formation, has turned this minor crisis into a full scale disaster.” He says the level of leadership had been surprisingly “inept”, with many too frightened to scold anti-gay bishops for their right wing statements. Jack Spong dubs the Windsor Report as “nothing more than a pathetic ecclesiastical attempt at damage control”.
The Windsor Report – A liberal response is published by O Books, John Hunt Publishing, ISBN 1905047290, Price £7.99 Paperback 112 pages
To order a copy of ‘The Windsor Report – A liberal response
Single copies can be ordered within the UK, add £0.60 for p&p. and making cheques payable to ‘The Modern Churchpeople’s Union’ and sent to The MCU Office, 9 Westward View, Liverpool L17 7EE.
For multiple copies, or for delivery outside the UK, please phone +44 (0)151 726 9730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org