A cause for shame?

by Mark Rees
from Signs of the Times No. 15 - Oct 2004

"Don't worry, I'll sort out the congregation," the vicar assured me.

It was 1971 and having lived as a very unhappy gender-dysphoric female for the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was beginning to undergo medical treatment to enable me to live as a male. The university I attended was very supportive, but going home in my new role was a challenge. A little apprehensively, I went to church.

"Hello, Mark."

The vicar had obviously 'sorted out' the congregation. Everyone greeted me as if they had always known me as a man. During the years since I have always been treated with equal acceptance and received much support from church people.

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'42' tribunals?

by Paul Brett
from Signs of the Times No. 15 - Oct 2004

The recent General Synod debate on the Clergy Discipline (Doctrine) report was a curious affair.

The Press greeted it with dramatic headlines, exciting everyone with the prospect of 'heresy trials'. Were bishops to be burnt at the stake, and bonfires made of forbidden books? Well, no, of course not!

The background is important. Back in 1996 a Synod report called Under Authority had examined the inadequacies of the 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure and proposed a new system of offences, procedures and penalties for clergy who were accused of professional misconduct. The subsequent Measure came into force in 2000. Early in the discussion it had been agreed that questions about 'doctrine, ritual and ceremonial' should be considered separately, and a second group, chaired by Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, looked into the matter and produced their report shortly before the Synod debate on 10 July 2004 in York.

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