Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 July 2024

Theo Hobson The Spectator The C of E needs to talk about sex

Helen King sharedconversations Milestone Day or Groundhog Day?

Nic Tall ViaMedia.News Cooking with Love and Faith

Hatty Calbus Surviving Church The Revitalise Trust and Safeguarding

Anon ViaMedia.News Persona non grata: an Unwelcoming Encounter at All Souls, Langham Place

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CEEC commissions Overseers

CEEC commissions first set of overseers

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has commissioned its first set of overseers, in a service today at All Souls Langham Place, in London.

The introduction of the Ephesian Fund and Alternative Spiritual Oversight (ASO), followed the General Synod decision in November 2023 to approve the bishops’ proposals to change the position and practice of the Church of England with regards to sexual ethics and marriage, by blessing same sex couples as part of normal services. At a subsequent Synod meeting earlier this week, standalone services of blessing for same sex couples received General Synod support and a timetable to work towards clergy same sex marriages was endorsed. As a result of these decisions, many clergy and PCCs have lost confidence in those bishops supporting change.

At the service, the first 20 overseers were commissioned (with more to be commissioned in due course). The overseers comprise a group of Honorary Assistant Bishops, alongside other clergy from across the evangelical constituency (spanning charismatics and conservatives, egalitarians and complementarians). They will provide informal oversight to clergy and PCCs who feel a loss of confidence in the spiritual leadership of their bishop(s). This informal and temporary oversight, facilitated by CEEC, does not in any way undermine or replace the legal and safeguarding responsibilities of clergy and PCCs to their bishops and/or diocese.

The Ephesian Fund and ASO are designed to help those who hold to the existing teaching and doctrine of marriage and sexual ethics to remain in the Church of England while a permanent structural reorganisation is pursued within the Church of England…

The order of service is here.
The list of names is below the fold.

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Opinion – 10 July 2024

Sean Doherty ViaMedia.News Trust and Training

Phil Groves ViaMedia.News The Alliance and the Bishop of Oxford

Lorraine Cavanagh On Forgiving The Church

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Responses to General Synod debate on LLF

Updated Thursday

Together has issued this Statement following LLF debate at July 2024 General Synod.

The Church of England Evangelical Council has published this: CEEC expresses deep disappointment on ‘milestone day’ as Synod approves bishops’ Living in Love and Faith proposals.

Update 11 July

The Alliance has published this Statement from the Alliance after July 2024 General Synod

Other statements will be linked when they are published.

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General Synod – 5-9 July 2024

This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting this weekend. The timetable is here, the agenda is here and the papers are here.

Live video etc

All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards. Links have been provided in advance.

There is an official X/Twitter account.

Chairs of debates

Official July 2024 list of members

Order papers

Business done

Official press releases

Press reports and comment

Church Times

Independent

The Guardian

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Together responds to LLF

together for the Church of England has published this letter to Martyn Snow.
The full text is copied here (the signatures list is below the fold).

Dear Bishop Martyn

LIVING IN LOVE AND FAITH – JULY SYNOD

We are writing to thank you for your work over recent months in guiding the LLF project forwards and for the publication of the latest proposals before General Synod. It is clear that you and the LLF staff team have taken great pains to ensure that different perspectives were able to contribute, and we see this reflected in the papers before Synod. We would also wish to extend our thanks to the College and House of Bishops for their continuing engagement with LLF, and hope that there will be support for the measures being proposed.

We welcome the proposal to remove restrictions on the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services. Many of us have already seen the pastoral and missional potential of the PLF material within existing services, which will be enhanced by making them available for use in standalone services. That this opportunity occurs on a voluntary opt-in basis helps to respect conscience all round and is something that we support. While it is not the gold standard of equal marriage that many of us seek, we recognise that this is a proportionate compromise that can be offered while the Church continues to explore these areas.

We are pleased that serious discussion is progressing on the freedom of clergy to enter a same-sex civil marriage. While we would have preferred to see more on this at the July Synod we welcome the clear timetable stating a decision will be taken by the House of Bishops in January 2025. For many clergy in faithful, stable, permanent relationships this decision cannot come soon enough. It is also a decision that many lay people already in same-sex marriages and who wish to explore a vocation to ordained ministry have been patiently waiting for. We firmly believe in marriage and the benefits it offers in regularising and honouring the love between two people. All of our clergy should be able to structure their closest and most intimate relationship in this way and we look forward to the further work from FAOC and the decision of the House of Bishops.

We look forward to hearing more about the model of specific and defined delegation of episcopal ministry to maximise inclusion under episcopal pastoral care. We support the rejection of hard structural approaches to managing differences in the life of the Church and welcome an approach focussed on pastoral relationships. As a Church we must never neglect that personal relationships contribute most strongly in building up the Church as the body of Christ, and managing difference is best achieved through good interpersonal relationships ahead of recourse to legalistic frameworks.

We remain fully committed to the unity of the Church, creating a generous space where all can thrive regardless of either sexuality or sincerely held theological conviction. We appreciate your comments in the LLF papers that what is proposed may not be ideal, but will allow us a space to discern God’s will in the longer term. Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good, and seeking perfection only delivers paralysis. We therefore welcome these proposals, acknowledging that they cannot deliver everything that all seek from the LLF process, and look forward to engaging with them further.

Please be assured of our prayers during the upcoming Synod and in the work that will follow.

Yours sincerely (more…)

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General Synod Questions

The Questions (and answers) for this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were issued today. They can be found online here:

Questions will be taken on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. There are 221 questions, four fewer than at the last group of sessions.

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Opinion – 3 July 2024

Gilo ViaMedia.News Beyond Jay: Here’s What the Response Group and Synod Need to Do for a Safer Church

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Which God?

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Barnardo’s report on Network Church Sheffield

From the Diocese of Sheffield:

With the agreement of the survivor, the Yorkshire Baptist Association and the trustees of Network Church Sheffield, in 2022 the Diocese of Sheffield commissioned Barnardo’s to conduct an independent investigation following a complaint made about an experience of conversion therapy and exorcism in 2014-15. This investigation took place in two parts, with part one looking at the individual’s complaint and part two looking at the current practice of St Thomas Philadelphia, part of Network Church Sheffield and the church in which the abuse had taken place.

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Bishop of Oxford responds to The Alliance

Updated Friday

The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has replied to the letter issued by “The Alliance” on 26 June, which was linked in this article: LLF: criticisms from bishops and others.

Here is the full text of his response.

Updates

The Alliance has issued a letter in reply.

Church Society has published Responding to The Bishop of Oxford.

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Update from independent reviewer Keith Makin

Update I have added a statement from the lead safeguarding bishop below the fold.

Press release from the Church of England

Update from independent reviewer Keith Makin
02/07/2024

I can confirm that the representations process, as referenced in my last update on 14th May 2024, is progressing. Those named and criticised in the review report have been given the opportunity to comment on the extracts which are relevant to them. Once their responses have been received and considered and any amendments arising from this made, I will hand the report to the Archbishops’ Council for subsequent publication. This is unlikely to be until the end of the summer as my priority is to ensure that this final stage is carefully conducted, recognising the impact on all those affected. I confirm this will be done as soon as practically possible. At that point the date of publication will be decided by the Archbishops’ Council.

Support

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. While support has previously been offered the NST has now secured the service of a specialist advocacy service. FearFree Support provides specialist support to victims and survivors of abuse, offering trauma informed and victim led bespoke support. Its director of services has identified an experienced independent advocate for victims and survivors to deliver this service and this information has been relayed to the survivors and victims.

Contact: kate.williams@fearfree.org.uk, mb 07442 968767/helpdesk 01225775276

There is an additional offer of therapeutic support for victims and survivors of Smyth from Yellow Door.

Yellow Door is an organisation that can offer evidence-based therapy to support victims and survivors of abuse and those that have experienced trauma.

Contact Yellow Door confidentially at reviewsupport@yellowdoor.org.uk.

Support for victims and survivors of other Church-related cases can be accessed here.

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Opinion – 29 June 2024

Martin Sewell Surviving Church The continuing Shambles of CofE Safeguarding

God Loves Women Guest Post: A Response to William Nye
[This refers to the two background papers GS 2361A and GS 2361B for a General Synod debate on reviewing abuse at Soul Survivor.]

Simon Friend ViaMedia.News Power Games: Redemptive Violence or Redemptive Love?

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LLF: further developments

Some further items to record:

Eleven members of the LLF Working Groups have written to criticise GS 2358: LLF: from Leicester to York

CEEC has issued this invitation to a “Commissioning of Overseers” service.

Neil Patterson writes in the Church Times: Called to live together, not apart

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Dean of Chelmsford

The Bishop of Chelmsford has announced that the next Dean of Chelmsford will be the Rev Canon Dr Jessica Martin.

Jessica currently serves as a Residentiary Canon at Ely Cathedral and during 2024 has served as one of two theological advisers to the bishops of the Church of England.

Speaking about her appointment Canon Jessica said:

“I’m filled with excitement at the prospect of coming to be part of the Cathedral community in Chelmsford.  I hope too to play a focussed and enthusiastic part in serving the city, county and wider diocese. These are rich and diverse overlapping communities and I am very eager to find how I may serve them. I look forward to becoming part of the steady foundation of prayer, praise and worship that the Cathedral represents and maintains, and to all that grows out from that in Christian service.  There are relationships to make and to deepen, and a compelling vision that waits for us to discover and bring to fruition together – for which I know excellent work has already begun.

“As I prepare to move to Chelmsford shortly after Christmas, along with my husband Francis Spufford and my younger daughter, I will be praying steadily for you all. I ask that you will pray for me too, that I may by the grace of God serve you well; and that, creatively and joyfully, we may make something beautiful of this new chapter in the life of Chelmsford Cathedral.”

The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the Bishop of Chelmsford said:

“I am delighted that God has called Jessica to be the next Dean of Chelmsford.  She brings extensive experience of Cathedral ministry as well as great wisdom and many skills. Her appointment is good news for the Cathedral and the wider diocese and I am very much looking forward to working with her when she joins us in January.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank and pay tribute to the Very Rev Paul Kennington who, as interim Dean, has made an outstanding contribution to the life of the Cathedral and our diocese and has graciously agreed to stay on in post until nearer the time of Jessica’s arrival. Details of his leaving service, expected to take place in December, will be shared in due course.”

The interim Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Rev Paul Kennington said:

“I am so delighted that Jessica has been appointed to be the next Dean of Chelmsford. She brings with her not only a wealth of cathedral knowledge and understanding, but also a nationally valued theological acumen and a deep pastoral heart with a longing for sharing the Gospel. I wish her and Francis all the very best for their transition over the coming months into the life of this Cathedral.

“I am sorry not to be with you today for this wonderful occasion. I have a long-standing meeting with senior clergy from the Episcopal Church in the North of England. I have enjoyed my 16 months so far at Chelmsford Cathedral. It is an inspiring place with a dedicated and committed Christian Community which is privileged to play its role in the life of the diocese, city, County and East London.”

The announcement of Canon Jessica’s appointment was made at Chelmsford Cathedral this morning. Jessica will spend today meeting people from the Cathedral community, from churches across Chelmsford Diocese and local civic leaders. She will also be visiting the Chelmsford Cathedral School to meet with pupils and staff.

About Jessica Martin

Jessica Martin grew up in the Surrey commuter town of Woking. She studied literature at university, which she later taught at Trinity College in Cambridge. Following her ordination in 2004 she served as a priest alongside her life as a lecturer, until 2010 when she became the vicar of three country parishes in South Cambridgeshire. Her southernmost church was just two hundred yards away from the Essex border. Gradually taking on other responsibilities, Jessica served on the Bishop of Ely’s senior staff and contributed to the Church of England’s ongoing reflections on sexuality. Since 2016, she has been a Canon of Ely Cathedral, with special responsibility for learning. She has written two religious books (as well as some academic ones): Holiness and Desire, which is about sacred and profane loves and how they fit together and which was longlisted for the Michael Ramsey Prize, and The Eucharist in Four Dimensions, about the way that Holy Communion uses place and space and time. During 2024 she has been one of the two theological advisers to the bishops of the Church of England. She plays the oboe and the piano, and is married to the writer Francis Spufford. She has two daughters, Stella and Theodora.

The Rev Canon Dr Jessica Martin will begin her ministry as Dean of Chelmsford in January 2025.

The Rev Canon Dr Jessica Martin’s video message

Canon Jessica recorded a video message for the cathedral community and diocese ahead of this morning’s announcement that she will be the next Dean of Chelmsford.

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LLF: criticisms from bishops and others

Updated Wednesday evening and again Thursday morning; also on 3 July

The latest LLF proposals are in GS 2358. (31 pages long) , and are explained more briefly by Helen King in LLF: Moving Forward as One Church (also linked in today’s Opinion roundup).

There are several items expressing various concerns about these proposals.

They are:
Ruth Bushyager, Bishop of Horsham
Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster
Jonathan Gibbs, Bishop of Rochester
James Grier, Bishop of Plymouth
Richard Jackson, Bishop of Hereford
Rob Munro, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Mark Rylands, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Exeter
Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington
Paul Thomas, Bishop of Oswestry
Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford
Paul Williams, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

The seven signatories are
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, Chairman of The Society’s Council of Bishops
The Rt Revd Stephen Race, Bishop of Beverley
The Rt Revd Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn
The Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
The Rt Revd Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes
The Rt Revd Paul Thomas, Bishop of Oswestry
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Wakefield

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Opinion – 26 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations LLF: Moving Forward as One Church

Matthew Duckett Writing on the Walls of Nineveh Sermon for a Mass of Thanksgiving for a Civil Partnership

David W Congdon ViaMedia.News Essential Doctrines, Essential Hierarchies

David Runcorn Inclusive Evangelicals Is Genesis chapter 2 a definition of marriage?

Anon (on behalf of the Oxford Safe Churches team) ViaMedia.News Lovingly Hated

26 Comments

Opinion – 22 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Removing the fiction: wrangling bishops

Susannah Clark ViaMedia.News The Whole of Who We Are

Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News Between Meaning and Despair: A Generous Faith

27 Comments

Questions about the commissioning of the Jay report

The Jay Response Group has produced a report, published today, for the July General Synod to consider. This is scheduled for debate on Monday 8 July. This document is 137 pages long. This synod will not be asked to make any decisions concerning the specific way forward, all of which are considered to require substantial further work.

Readers will recall an earlier post: Wilkinson-Jay Response Group survey findings. This survey is incorporated into GS 2364. Among its reported comments, there were a number which dealt with the issue of whether the Jay report was answering the right questions. See for example, pages 45 to 47 of the survey findings. But also in its Executive Summary, on page 4, summarising

Reaction to the Wilkinson and Jay Reports (emphasis added):

Reactions to these reports highlight intense difference of opinion between stakeholder groups. Strong feelings, including frustration, were expressed by many participants.

  • Many participants welcome the insight that these reports offer on issues surrounding safeguarding in the Church of England.
  • There is a suggestion that the two reports are incongruent; one being seen as promoting patience and careful consideration, while the other encourages urgency.
  • There are voices that call for the immediate implementation of these recommendations.
  • Other voices highlight perceived flaws in the methodology used in the Jay Report.
  • The governance role of Archbishops Council is frequently questioned, particularly surrounding the terms of reference set for the Jay Report and its financial cost.
  • There is a recognition that the Jay Report has damaged the morale of safeguarding staff.

These questions have been taken up in a letter sent earlier this week to the Archbishop of York, and others, by a number of General Synod members. A  PDF copy of that letter can be found here. This letter asks a number of detailed questions about the way in which the Jay report was commissioned. Obviously this letter was sent before today’s voluminous report was published.

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Pre-Synod press release

The usual pre-Synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today and is copied below. Synod papers are available here and links will be added to my earlier post here.

Services for same-sex couples, independence in safeguarding, dignity of disabled children: Synod papers published
20/06/2024

Outline proposals on the wider use of prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples are published today ahead of the annual summer meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod in York next month.

Possible arrangements for the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services alongside delegating episcopal ministry and a foundational work to provide a timetable towards a decision on clergy in same-sex civil marriages are also set out as part of broad package in outline proposals designed to help hold the Church together amid deep disagreements over questions of sexuality.

Prayers of Love and Faith are already in use as part of regular services in some churches such as a Sunday eucharist or evensong. But Synod will consider whether and how they might also be used as special services in their own right for a trial period as well as related questions.

The proposals are set out in papers detailing business for the upcoming meeting of Synod from July 5 to 9 at the University of York.

Legislation to be discussed includes first consideration of a measure to overhaul the Church of England’s national governance structures.

Synod will also have the opportunity to debate proposed models for greater independence in Church safeguarding. These follow independent reports by Prof Alexis Jay, the former chair of the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and the barrister Sarah Wilkinson.

And members will scrutinise legislation to create a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse.

There is also a private member’s motion calling for an inquiry into allegations of abuse and cover-up within the Soul Survivor network.

Synod will debate a motion brought by the Diocese of Liverpool on the human dignity of disabled children. The motion challenges the assumption that “bringing a disabled child into the world is a tragedy to be avoided” and calls for more support and advice for families during pregnancy and after birth.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process, said: “Working closely with people from across our different traditions and theological convictions over several months to develop these proposals I have been struck again and again by an enduring commitment to the unity of God’s church, even amid deep differences over questions of sexuality.

“There is much still to work out in detail but I believe these proposals provide an outline of how we might move forward together.

“It will require realism, give-and-take and a recognition that, as Christians, we hold a variety of views on these questions, all of which are held with integrity and all of which deserve respect.”

More information

Read papers and more information for the July 2024 General Synod Sessions in York

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Dean of Worcester

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more on the diocesan website.

Appointment of Dean of Worcester: 17 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Edwards, Interim Dean of Worcester, to be appointed as Dean of Worcester.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 17 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Edwards, Interim Dean of Worcester, to be appointed as Dean of Worcester in succession to The Very Reverend Peter Atkinson following his retirement.

Background

Stephen was educated at Lancaster University and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his title in the parish of Colwyn Bay, in the Diocese of St Asaph, Wales and in 1997 he was ordained Priest. From 1999 he served as Priest-in-Charge of Bryn-y-Maen.

In 2002, Stephen was appointed Priest-in-Charge at St Agnes Birch-in-Rusholme, with St John with St Cyprian Longsight, in the Diocese of Manchester. From 2012 he served as Team Rector of Wythenshawe and in 2013 he was additionally appointed Area Dean, Withington.

In 2019 Stephen was appointed Residentiary Canon at Worcester Cathedral and he took up his current role as Interim Dean in 2023.

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