“Transgender Baptism” – How should we Respond? — GAFCON UK

Gafcon UK has published a briefing for Parochial Church Councils in the Church of England –

“Just before Christmas, the House of Bishops published pastoral guidance which ‘welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people’ – and encourages clergy to use existing liturgy (of Baptism, Confirmation or the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith) if a transgender adult wishes to reaffirm their Christian faith and mark their transition.

This has caused considerable concern amongst lay and ordained members of the Church of England for a variety of theological and pastoral reasons. This briefing seeks to summarise some of those concerns and suggest ideas for further reading.”

Read the briefing, and related documents, here.

See also:

2,000 clergy sign letter saying new Church of England service for trans people may ‘harm’ childrenTelegraph.

“Some 2,155 bishops, priests and lay members of the church have added their names to the letter which condemns new guidance released last month on gender transition.”

‘The Most Reverend The Primate and Patriarch of The Southern Hemisphere’

‘The Most Reverend The Primate and Patriarch of The Southern Hemisphere’ – that’s how John Newton addressed Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the First Fleet and the fledgling colony of New South Wales.

Marylynn Rouse, at The John Newton Project, just in time for Australia Day, has posted a number of letters and new material relating to Richard Johnson – including letters to him from John Newton.

Richard Johnson:

“In the evening of the 23rd September 1786, I was asked by a friend, if I had got the spirit of a missionary, or, if I wished to go abroad. I smiled, and replied – No – I had no inclination or thoughts of ever leaving my native country.

On the 30th of the same month, I received a letter from another friend, informing me that a colony was going to be established in New Holland, or New Zealand – that a chaplain was wanted – that application had been made to him, to know whether he knew of any proper person for and willing to undertake such an arduous work – and that if I chose to accept of, he could secure me the appointment. …”

See what’s new at The John Newton Project.

See also: Richard Johnson – First Chaplain to Australia.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits?

Psalm 116 verse 12 –

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits towards me?”

These words were read by the Rev. Richard Johnson, Chaplain to the Colony, on Sunday 3rd February 1788, at the first Christian service to be held after the arrival of the First Fleet.

It’s a good question to ponder.

GAFCON’s new General Secretary

GAFCON’s new General Secretary, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, introduces himself and pledges that he will not deviate from the saving message of the gospel in his new role.

Watch, be encouraged, and Pray.

For Australia Day: Analysing popular stereotypes on the foundation of Christianity in Australia

In 2015, Associate Professor Stuart Piggin gave this fascinating address at a gathering to commemorate the First Christian Service in Australia.

The event, in Richard Johnson Square on 3rd February, was close to where the Rev. Richard Johnson conducted the first Christian service in the Colony, on 3rd February 1788.

With Dr. Piggin’s permission, we published this at the time. We think it is well worth reading again.

“The preacher at that service, held under a ‘great tree’, beginning at 10 o’clock on 3 February 1788, a hot midsummer’s day, was the Rev Richard Johnson, Australia’s –

  • first minister,
  • first educator,
  • first carer for orphans,
  • first carer for aboriginal children.

With all those firsts, he was quite a pioneer – and John Newton, author of the much loved hymn ‘Amazing grace’, who recommended Johnson to MP William Wilberforce who recommended him to PM William Pitt, bestowed on Richard Johnson the title, ‘Patriarch of the Southern Hemisphere’, that is, if you will, founding father of the Christian movement in Australia.

Now, since this was the site of the first school house, it is surely fair to put a question to you. Here is the question:

If Newton gave Johnson the title ‘Patriarch of the Southern Hemisphere’, what title did the Eora people, the Aboriginal people who lived in the Sydney Basin, give Richard Johnson?

Well, class, I don’t see a forest of hands of those keen to answer the question. But I ask it to make a point. The basic question asked by the organisers of this event is:

‘Does our heritage matter?’ What they really mean is ‘does our Christian heritage matter?’

Well surely we must know what our Christian heritage is before we can decide if it matters. But I doubt if we have ever found what our Christian heritage is – we are in great danger of losing it before we ever find it. Nobody has ever told us.

Has anyone ever told us what title the Eora people gave Richard Johnson? I will tell you at the end of this address, but my point is that there are parts of our Christian heritage we just don’t know because no-one has ever told us.

Then there are other matters which we think we do know. We have been told them so often they have become stereotypes.

But maybe they are false stereotypes.…”

Do read the whole address. (PDF file.) Photos courtesy Ramon Williams, Worldwide Photos.

Related:

Richard Johnson’s Address To The Inhabitants Of The Colonies (PDF file).

See also:

John Anderson’s Conversations: Featuring Associate Professor Stuart Piggin (June 2018). Take the time to watch.

and

The Fountain of Public Prosperity – Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914, published by Monash University Publishing.

Same-sex Marriage ‘compromise’ moves ahead in Episcopal Church

Two current stories from the Episcopal News Service illustrate the outworking of General Convention’s ‘compromise’ vote, Resolution B012, which gave same-sex couples “unfettered access” to trial-use marriage rites in all of its domestic dioceses.

‘Today feels like a miracle’ for same-sex couples in two Dallas parishes.

“The talk over the weekend in two Episcopal Diocese of Dallas parishes was of history being made, dreams coming true and miracles happening as 24 same-sex couples received what they had longed for: their home church’s recognition and blessing. …

[Dallas Bishop George] Sumner decided that he could not be in a pastoral relationship with parishes that wished to perform same-sex marriages. He negotiated with Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith to provide Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, or DEPO, to those parishes, relinquishing oversight but not diocesan authority. …”

Tennessee bishop recruits neighboring colleague to implement same-sex marriage rites.

“Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced Jan. 18 that neighboring Bishop Brian Cole of East Tennessee will ‘provide pastoral support’ to Tennessee couples, clergy and congregations who want to solemnize same-sex marriages. …”

Photo: Retired Bishop Gene Robinson presides at a service in Dallas. ENS photo.

Aberdeen congregation votes to leave Scottish Episcopal Church

“A congregation in the north-east Scottish coastal city of Aberdeen is preparing to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church. Members of Westhill Community Church voted last night (Thursday) by 83 per cent to 13 per cent to leave the Anglican Communion’s province in Scotland following what they say is the ‘continued liberal trajectory’ of the Church.

Speaking to the Anglican Communion News Service, the Rector of Westhill, Canon Ian Ferguson, said: ‘We have been on a journey for many years – when I say “we” I mean a group of evangelical Episcopal rectors – in talking to bishops about the trajectory the Scottish Episcopal Church has set itself on going. This culminated in a number of decisions that the SEC took which some of us found that we could not accept. …”

– Report from the Anglican Communion News Service.

And from the Westhill newsletter for 20 Jnauary 2019:

“The result of the vote on Thursday 17th January asking whether you agree with the leaders and vestry that Westhill Community Church should leave the Scottish Episcopal Church was 87% Yes and 13% No, with 2 spoiled papers.

There will be no immediate changes. We as a Church need to take time to catch our breath and pray about the way forward.

Thanks to everyone who assisted with the process including everyone who came out on such a cold night to vote and everyone who stayed to pray together.

With every blessing, on behalf of the Leaders and Vestry.”

And so… Dr. Peter Jensen’s parting blog post as GAFCON General Secretary

“On January 1st Archbishop Ben Kwashi became General Secretary of Gafcon in succession to me.

I cannot say how pleased I am to welcome him into this role. I admire him very much as a wise man of God, and think that his passion for prayer and the sharing of God’s word will be an immense encouragement to the Gafcon movement as we seek to, ‘proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations.’ God has also endowed our brother with spiritual perceptiveness and courage – gifts he will certainly need.

When I think of the message of Jerusalem 2018, ‘Proclaim Christ Faithfully to the Nations’, I am always so glad that the word ‘faithfully’ appears. All our churches have many failings and even scandals. We are very far from perfect. But the aim of proclaiming Christ faithfully gives us a purpose, a goal, and a character.

Why? …”

Read all of Peter’s letter at the GAFCON website – and do pray for Peter, and for Archbishop Kwashi.

Here is Dr. Jensen’s message suitable for printing. Formatted to print on both sides of A4 paper and then cut in half. (Emphasis has been added.)

180kb PDF file.

Anglican Unscripted episode 477

This morning David Ould spoke with Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV about the controversy involving Dr. John Shepherd and the Anglican Centre in Rome.

They discuss the significance of Dr. Shepherd’s statement – released yesterday – affirming that he believes in the Resurrection. (See also davidould.net’s response to the statement.)

‘WA Anglicans rally behind former church head over resurrection furore’

“The Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, described Dr Shepherd as an outstanding member of the WA church community and said she was surprised people had been making ‘statements of concern’ about a sermon from 11 years ago.

‘If that happened to every preacher in the Church we would all be in trouble, frankly,’ she said. ‘There is a statement that people have picked out, whoever the people are, and have sort of wanted to make some example of. …”

– Story from The West Australian.

Could it be that Dr. Shepherd’s words were ill-considered lines picked out from among many things he taught as the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Perth?

See this official Perth Cathedral Easter message, recorded by Dean Shepherd for Easter 2008. Courtesy David Ould.

Related:

Good News that is also True News – Bishop Paul Barnett.

Gospel Truth (book) – Bishop Paul Barnett.

Is the New Testament History? (book) – Bishop Paul Barnett.

A Short Book About Jesus the Man from Heaven (book) – Bishop Paul Barnett.

Archbishop of Canterbury urged to act over Vatican envoy who questioned resurrection

“A row has erupted within the Church of England as senior Anglicans are calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to force his ambassador to the Vatican to resign because he does not believe Jesus rose from the dead.

It has emerged that Dr John Shepherd, an Australian cleric appointed last week as the new representative to Rome, had delivered a sermon in which he said Christians should be ‘set free’ from the traditional view of the resurrection. …

Reverend Dr Lee Gatiss, director of the church’s biggest evangelical group, said the situation was ‘utterly bizarre and absolutely inappropriate’ and Dr Shepherd should resign. …“

– Read the story from The Telegraph.

(Photo: Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby.)

Uniting Church President: challenge to same-sex marriage vote unsuccessful

In a Pastoral Letter to members of the Uniting Church of Australia, the Assembly President, Dr. Deidre Palmer explains that the numbers needed to challenge the Assembly’s same-sex marriage decision last year were insufficient:

“Seven Presbyteries chose to exercise their right to notify me as President, that, in their opinion, the matter was ‘vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’ There were five Presbyteries in Queensland, one Presbytery in the Northern Synod and one Presbytery in the Synod of NSW and the ACT. On Saturday the 5th of January 2019, the Presbytery of South Australia met, and decided that the majority of members did not support the proposal that the Fifteenth Assembly marriage decision was a ‘matter vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’

This means that the threshold for the suspension of the Assembly decision has not been reached.

As a result, the Assembly decision on marriage stands …”

Read the full letter here.

Doubtless, members of the Uniting Church of Australia who hold to a high view of Scripture, would value your prayers for wisdom.

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