Friday, 22 May 2015
July 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable
The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Friday 10 July
[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]
3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
Business Committee Report
4.25 pm Approval of appointments
Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration
Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Saturday 11 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations
Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]
Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’
8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
Sunday 12 July
2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval
Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate
Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)
Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016
Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships
Monday 13 July
9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)
Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment
11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council
2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies
4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Church of Scotland defers action on clergy in same sex marriages
Following on from its decision earlier in the week relating to clergy in civil partnerships, today the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland considered the case of clergy in same-sex marriages.
The General Assembly has taken the first step to extend the provision covering ministers in same sex civil partnerships to those in same sex marriages. The final decision has been deferred until its presbyteries have been consulted under the process known as the Barrier Act. Presbyteries will now debate the matter and return their votes by the end of this year.
Following the historic vote on Saturday, it means congregations may now opt out of traditional church teaching on marriage to call a minister or deacon in a same sex civil partnership, but that provision does not extend to any ministers entering into same sex marriages until the final vote has been taken. Special provisions have been agreed which protect any minister or deacon ordained before May 31st 2009 who is now in a same sex marriage…
The decision is explained by Frank Cranmer this way: Same-sex marriage for Church of Scotland ministers? – not just yet. As Frank notes:
If a majority of presbyteries approves the proposal it will return to the Assembly in 2016 for a final decision. Any wider consideration of the theological understanding of same-sex marriage will not take place until the Theological Forum presents its report at a future date.
The Joint Report of the Theological Forum and the Legal Questions Committee on the matter is available here: the proposed draft amending legislation to extend the ambit of the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Act (passed on Saturday) to include ministers and deacons in same sex marriages is in the Appendices to the Joint Report.
Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 21 May 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Government efficiency, transparency and accountability
The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.
The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.
Note for editors
Caroline Spelman has been the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. She is a former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a confirmed member of the Church of England.
The Second Commissioner is a Member of Parliament and answers to Parliament for the business of the Commissioners. Mrs Spelman succeeds Sir Tony Baldry, who did not stand for re-election in the recent general election.
There is a much longer press release from the Church Commissioners, which is copied below the fold.Continue reading "Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman"
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
Ashers Bakery judgement generates controversy
Updated again Thursday evening
Judgement was given yesterday in the case of Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Ors, in the Northern Ireland County Court.
Some writers think this is a good decision:
Joshua Rozenberg Guardian The ‘gay cake’ ruling is a victory for equality in Northern Ireland
Mary Hassan at Huffington Post Finally: A Victory for the LGBT Community in Northern Ireland
Colin Murray Ashers Bakery Loses “Gay Cake” Discrimination Case
But other commentators are critical:
Savi Hensman at Ekklesia Ashers bakery ruling sows confusion about discrimination
Peter Ould at Psephizo The ‘Gay Cake’ ruling
Neil Addison Ashers Bakery and the “Gay Cake”
Mark Woods at Christian Today Ashers’ Bakery: The real loser here is a tolerant society
The Christian Institute reports Ashers owners speak out for first time about ruling, and that link also leads to a video interview.
The Telegraph has this editorial opinion: Icing on the cake as well as Bert and Ernie gay marriage cake ruling ‘banishes religion from commercial world’ and The ‘gay cake’ ruling against a Christian bakery could lead to even more discrimination
Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has this: Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Ors – an analysis
Simon Jenkins has written this for the Guardian The moral of the gay wedding cake row: the law can’t create tolerance
Alasdair Henderson at UK Human Rights Blog Conscience and cake
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
Lords Spiritual (Women) Act
The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.
The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is before 11 July, Rachel will fill the vacancy created by the Bishop of Leicester’s retirement and become the first female Lord Spiritual.
Bishop Tim’s retirement has another consequence as he has been the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual for the last six years. It was announced yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, to be the new convenor. The announcement includes this job description: “The Convenor ensures that the work of the Lords Spiritual is coordinated and supported and that the interests of the Bishops’ Bench are represented fully in and outside Parliament. The Convenor is the primary point of contact and liaison on behalf of the Bishops’ Bench for the party leaderships in the Lords, Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, officials and business managers.”
Monday, 18 May 2015
Church of Scotland allows opt-outs for clergy in civil partnerships
The General Assembly of the [presbyterian] Church of Scotland is meeting in Edinburgh. On Saturday it was announced that:
The Church of Scotland has voted in favour of allowing people in same sex civil partnerships to be called as ministers and deacons.
The historic decision was made by the General Assembly on the Mound in Edinburgh today, where the motion was passed by 309 votes in favour and 182 against.
The outcome is the culmination of years of deliberation within the Church. The motion has faced a series of debates and votes before the final decision was arrived at this afternoon. This included 31 of the Church’s presbyteries endorsing the move to 14 who opposed it.
This means the Church has adopted a position which maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.
And the announcement continued:
Co-ordinator of the Principal Clerk’s office, Very Rev David Arnott, said: “The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decided today to allow individual Kirk Sessions the possibility of allowing a Nominating Committee to consider an application from a minister living in a civil partnership. During a vacancy a Kirk Session may, but only if it so wishes, and after due deliberation, agree to a Nominating Committee accepting an application from such a minister. No Kirk Session may be coerced into doing so against its own wishes. This decision was in line with a majority of presbyteries who voted in favour of such a move.”
John Bingham at the Telegraph reports on the potential significance of this for the Church of England. See Church of Scotland plan for gay ministers offers possible ‘template’ for Anglicans .
…South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.
The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”
…The Rev Sally Hitchiner, an Anglican priest and founder of “Diverse Church”, a group for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, said the Church of England should “look carefully” at the Scottish arrangements.
“It sounds very similar to the Church of England’s policy on remarriage of divorcees and I think that works very well and actually I think that protects conservatives,” she said.
“In the conservative wing of the Church of England people genuinely are concerned that in 10 or 20 years they won’t be able to hold those views.
“If we can find a model like the Church of Scotland I think it could protect conservatives within the church while still allowing those of us who want to marry people of the same sex and indeed be married ourselves we should do so.”
The item on the BBC radio programme mentioned above can be found 23 minutes in via this link.
On Thursday, the Assembly will consider whether to extend this provision to those in same-sex marriages.
Sunday, 17 May 2015
More reactions to the Shared Conversations
Two of the new ones are especially noteworthy:
Saturday, 16 May 2015
Bishop Steven Croft Advising Mr Cameron: lessons from an ancient kingdom
A study day on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner taught Malcolm Doney the link between poetry and theology; he writes in Church Times: Grey beard — but no loon.
Claire Jones Come to this table – if you’re one of us
The Bishops of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and of Hertford were consecrated at Westminster Abbey on Ascension Day. Rowan Williams preached the sermon.
Friday, 15 May 2015
Church Commissioners' results 2014 - and the task groups
The Church Commissioners have released their Annual Report for 2014 today. There is also a press release, highlighting a “total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014”, and this is copied below the fold.
The report includes an overview from Andreas Whittam Smith, the First Church Estates Commissioner, which includes the following paragraphs on the Archbishops’ Task Groups.
By coincidence, one of the factors that contributed to the Church Commissioners’ difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been the subject of lively discussion in recent months. I refer to the principle of inter-generational equity, which means that the Commissioners, advised by their actuaries, should only distribute such sums to their beneficiaries as will enable the value of the endowment to be maintained in real terms through time. This policy has been followed rigidly for more than 20 years.
Now Task Groups, set up by the Archbishops, have made ambitious proposals to equip the Church for the future. The Church Commissioners strongly welcome these initiatives. However, financing such plans would likely require the Commissioners to provide additional funds over and above their normal distributions.
The arguments in favour and against such a course were fully explored in a paper presented to General Synod in February 2015. A distinction was drawn between ‘bad’ over-distribution and ‘good’ over-distribution. The good version, which is now envisaged, is undertaken for a clear purpose, in response to plans that are evidence based, is fully costed and is entered into with the agreement and understanding of all parties and there are safeguards in place. It should be seen as an investment in the church to encourage growth. In addition a successful outcome would have, as a by-product, an increase in the Church’s financial strength.
Accordingly at General Synod in February, I moved a motion that invited members to ‘support the Commissioners’ in releasing additional funds to support changes to ‘equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission’. Large majorities approved the motion…
The paper referred to is GS 1981 Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity, and the motion carried by Synod was:
‘That this Synod,
welcoming GS 1981; and
noting that the funds of the Church Commissioners are a permanent endowment, held in perpetuity to support the Church of England as it seeks to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation,
support the Commissioners, in consultation with the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, giving consideration to the basis on which they might, for a limited period, release additional funds in order to support changes that will equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission and ministry over the coming generations.’
Barney Thompson has written about the report for The Financial Times: Church of England blessed by property boom.
James Moore Independent Church to splash out on clergy as booming investments pass £6.7bn
Tim Wyatt Church Times Commissioners use shareholder clout to combat excessive pay dealsContinue reading "Church Commissioners' results 2014 - and the task groups"
Thursday, 14 May 2015
CNC fails to fill Oxford vacancy
The Crown Nominations Commission held its second meeting to consider the vacancy in the see of Oxford on Monday and Tuesday of this week (11 and 12 May) but failed to make a decision. The Archbishop of Canterbury has today issued this statement:
From the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Oxford
Vacancy in the See of Oxford
An update from the Archbishop of Canterbury - Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission
You will be aware that the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) met on the 11th and 12th May to consider the nomination of the next Bishop of Oxford and to meet with possible candidates.
I am writing to advise that the Commission has been unable to discern the candidate whom God is calling at this stage to be the next Bishop of Oxford. Under the election rules under which we operate, in a secret ballot no candidate received the required number of votes for nomination.
Although the CNC has a number of meetings scheduled for later this year they are reserved for the consideration of other Dioceses. It is unfortunately impossible to add further demands on the time of the voluntary members of the CNC, who have their own jobs as well. The Oxford CNC will therefore reconvene on the 4th February 2016 with the second meeting on the 7th/8th March 2016. Bishop Colin will continue to provide oversight to the diocese as he has done over the past few months during the interregnum and I am very grateful to him for this.
Many of you will have had the CNC in your prayers and I thank you for them. I will continue to keep the diocese in my prayers over the next months. This will not be the news that you wanted to hear but please take this as a sign of the CNC’s commitment to finding the right person to be your next bishop.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Resourcing Ministerial Education: another chapter
Readers may recall this report: Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.
Today, Julian Hubbard, who is the Director of Ministry Division at the Archbishops’ Council, has published an article about the planned new programme of research in support of the programme for Resourcing Ministerial Education.
Read the article here: Developing strategic capacity for dioceses in ministerial education.
Read the more detailed paper submitted to the Ministry Council here: Developing Diocesan Strategic Capacity: Research Insight.
The covering note from Julian Hubbard concludes this way:
…The proposals are for long term research and are not about quick results. The RME work has made evident what many of us knew, that the church is changing rapidly and training needs are following suit. To capture this as well as doing justice to what we have inherited in terms of theological understanding of ministry takes time. We want to pursue the research collaboratively with dioceses and TEIs. An important part of the initial research was to ask for what research TEIs had already done and we want to continue that relationship in the next stages. This will be in conjunction with the theological conversation on expressing a theology of ministry which has begun between a group of bishops, theologians and theological educators which will come to fruition at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September 2015.
No doubt the commentary on the proposed research will raise again the question whether the current research findings are an adequate basis for proceeding with the proposals. I would suggest that those who ask that question actually look at what the proposals are: they do not favour any particular pathway on abstract or ideological grounds. They are appreciative of what each of the forms of training can offer and confident that they can all make a contribution. They allow the exercise of intelligent judgement about the needs of the individual candidate and the hopes and needs of the church in relation to them. The intelligence about such decisions will grow as the body of data and information develops through the research.
Staff at the Ministry Division look forward to supporting dioceses and TEIs in this process both through conducting the research and offering consultancy and advice about pathways and candidates. There is sufficient basis for moving forward to the next stage. The alternative of waiting ten or even five years so that we have a “final” view is not a reality: when would such a final view ever be achieved? And in the meantime, candidates are still subjected to a regime of regulations which are less and less applicable and might be wasting the valuable resource of their time, as well as money. And the urgency which is widely agreed as a necessary response to the situation of the Church of England is lost, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?
The Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Ministry Council officers say quality research is lacking which includes this:
…The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, is among those who have expressed concern about the RME report (Letter, 27 March; News, 17 April). On Wednesday, he said that the admission of “several key limitations” was “very welcome indeed”. He said that the authors were “reluctant to acknowledge just how disabling the criticisms are for the overall strength of RME”.
He also questioned whether the new research proposed would solve the problems identified in the report: “The three core concepts they want to clarify are the nature of ministry, education, and the nature of contemporary society - vast and complex issues, indeed, which will not be decisively ‘clarified’ by the research they propose. . .
“What is necessary, first and foremost, is a vision of what theological education for the whole Church - for the whole people of God - ought to look like. The abiding impression that this document leaves, for all its good intentions, to my mind, is that we are not confident on theological vision as a Church, but much too trusting in the security and decisiveness of empirical research.”
Monday, 11 May 2015
Bishop Michael Perham
Updated again 17 May
Lambeth Palace has released the following statement concerning Bishop Michael Perham, the retired Bishop of Gloucester.
Statement on retired Bishop of Gloucester
Monday 11th May 2015
Statement in relation to the Rt Revd Michael Perham, retired Bishop of Gloucester.
Following a police investigation concerning Bishop Michael Perham last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. With the full co-operation of the Bishop an independent risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and as a result Bishop Michael will be able to take up Ministry in retirement, and the postponed farewells for him in Gloucester can now take place.
We will be making no further comment on this matter.
The Diocese of Gloucester has this announcement: Bishop Michael
…Statement from Rt Revd Michael Perham on the conclusion of the church process
11 May 2015
“I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive.
“The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions.
“I am, of course, immensely heartened that I can now return to ministry in my retirement. I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process.
“Now I can look forward to a celebration in Gloucester to bring my ministry there as its bishop for 10 years to a proper conclusion and, afterwards, to a new phase of being a priest and bishop in active retirement.”
Statement from the Diocese of Gloucester in response to news from Lambeth Palace
11 May 2015
“The Diocese of Gloucester welcomes today’s statement from Lambeth Palace concerning the Rt Revd Michael Perham. Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. We are gladdened by today’s news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement. We look forward to marking Bishop Michael’s committed and dedicated ministry to this diocese, with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 13 June.”
Update 17 May
There is a BBC report including an interview with Bishop Michael:
Ex-Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham calls for law change.
Saturday, 9 May 2015
Rachel Giles Church Times Health: Blessed, but not with a child
Patrick Comerford The Irish Times Same-sex marriage: Why are faith groups so concerned about civil legislation?
Christopher Howse The Telegraph Women building a library in exile
Friday, 8 May 2015
Reform and Renewal defended and then criticised
Last week, the Church Times carried an article by William Fittall, under the headline Plans to proclaim the faith afresh with the strapline There is no cause to be fatalistic about church decline.
This was also published on the official church website, where it had the headline Reform and renewal - a guide to the debate.
Church Times readers attempting to follow the discussions about the emerging “Reform and Renewal” programme in the Church of England may, by now, be somewhat baffled. There have been suggestions that the proposals are theologically lightweight, based on questionable research, too managerial and even that one of the undergirding concepts – discipleship – is not to be found in the New Testament!
As the Archbishops said in their paper to the Synod, the challenge of reform and renewal is spiritual. We shall ultimately be building on sand unless what we do is underpinned by prayer and an unshakable confidence in God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or conceive.
The starting point for the programme is a recognition that the Church of England’s capacity to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation will be decisively eroded unless the trend towards older and smaller worshipping communities is reversed. Some seem reluctant to face up to the consequences of this, while others doubt that anything will make much difference. Such fatalism was absent when the proposals were discussed by the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod…
This week Paul Handley reports in the Church Times on a symposium held last Friday in Oxford, Oxford group challenges talent quest.
THE idea that future leaders of the Church of England should be talent-spotted and groomed came in for sustained criticism at a symposium in Oxford last Friday.
The title of the symposium was “Apostolic Leadership for an Apostolic Church”. It had been convened by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, in response to the “literally hundreds” of letters and emails he had received after his critique of the Green report…
One of the participants, Andrew Lightbown, published this article: Questions over episcopal leadership post Green and RME.
It has been interesting watching how ‘head office’ is reacting to critics of the raft of reports recently issued on behalf of the Church of England.
For many it feels as though conversion about, and participation in, decision making processes are simply not welcome.
Critics are all too quickly rebuffed: William Fittall, writing in the Church Times last week (1st May) was keen to dismiss Alister McGrath’s analysis of Resourcing Ministerial Education and, the Green Report. Mark Hart’s analysis of From Anecdote to Evidence was, in the previous edition, given short shift by those ‘in the know.’
Now it could be that all the recent reports are spot on in their analysis and, that those who wish to critique or participate in wider discussion are overly worried.
But, this in itself should not be a reason to close down conversation, for the real issue has now become the style of leadership to which the church is becoming accustomed…
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon interviewed
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon has been interviewed in the Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian.
H/T to Episcopal Café who reported on this earlier: An interview with Archbishop Idowu-Fearon