Monday, 5 October 2015

Independent review of Peter Ball case announced

We reported on the Peter Ball case on 8 September: Peter Ball pleads guilty.

Since we published that article, this appeared on 13 September: Bishop Ball sex charges caution ‘wrong’ admits CPS.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to that case.

Press Release text is here.

Archbishop Commissions Independent Review of Peter Ball Case
05 October 2015
For Immediate Release

Archbishop Commissions Review of Peter Ball Case

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester.

During a hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 8th of this year Bishop Peter Ball pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office following the work of Sussex police as part of Operation Dunhill.

Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between the Church and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing.

Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.

Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.

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Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 October 2015 at 7:37am BST
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Communique from the Church of Nigeria


Although the document has yet to appear on the provincial website, the full text of a communiqué from the September meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has been published at Episcopal Cafè and also at Anglican Mainstream. Most of the document deals with local Nigerian matters, but there are two paragraphs which may be of wider interest:


The Standing Committee unanimously resolved to continue to maintain the orthodox biblical stand on this matter. It also calls on her members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.


While the Anglican Communion continues to be impaired by revisionist theologies of some Anglican Provinces, the Standing Committee calls the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the bible, the articles of religion and the Jerusalem Declaration, and further reaffirms our commitment on these as the basis of our relationship with other parts of the communion.

A photo of the document is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 October 2015 at 6:51pm BST
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Saturday, 3 October 2015


Ian Paul Do we need male leaders?

Symon Hill Freeing sexuality from an either/or model

Kelvin Holdsworth Some Bisexuals are Christian (and there’s lots of them)

Rowan Williams Embracing Our Limits - The Lessons of Laudato Si’

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Corruption entrenches inequality in South Africa, says Archbishop

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 October 2015 at 11:00am BST
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

New Fire in London

Bishop of London delivers Lambeth Lecture on church growth in the capital

Church must be “vision-led not problem-led”, says Bishop Richard Chartres in the third of the Lambeth Lectures series.

Also available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 October 2015 at 6:38pm BST
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"Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops"


The sermon preached by the Bishop of Chelmsford at the consecration of three new suffragan bishops in St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 September has received some attention in the media. The official press release about it is here.

Ruth Gledhill has written a news article about it in Christianity Today which is titled ‘Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops’: A call for authentic church leadership.


The full text is available here.

The key passage reads:

So – a new line for the litany - Good Lord deliver us from successful bishops, from too well prepared or even too well organised bishops, from ready answer in the back pocket and PowerPoint strategy self-sufficient, all efficient bishops. Take us to those high places, places of perspective and reality, where we and all our schemes are set on fire, which, paradoxically for us, are also those places where life is raw, and pain and darkness requisite. Take us to the heights of prayer, to the depths of the scriptures, to the bottom step before the altar, to a places of silent waiting where, with mitres off and staffs laid down, we will be replenished and know our need of God, and there be renewed and strengthened for the things that lie ahead as bishops of God’s church – messengers, sentinels and pastors.

The Bishop of Chelmsford has published this letter, responding to some of the comments made about his sermon.

My sermon at the recent consecration of three new bishops at St Paul’s Cathedral has caused a bit of a stir.
Some have said that it was a riposte or rebuke to certain initiatives taking place in the Church of England around leadership development. This was never meant to be the case.
The intention of the sermon was to reconfirm the perspective of all our initiatives and all our plans and remind us of the calling of the bishop as messenger, sentinel and pastor, and at the same time enable us to smile at ourselves…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 October 2015 at 7:19am BST
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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bishop of Maidstone

The new Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, now has a website, with quite a lot of information about his role.

Here it is:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 at 4:30pm BST
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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SSWSH: A Catholic Life in the Church of England

Earlier this month, The Council of Bishops of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda (SSWSH) published a statement Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England: A Statement of Principles.

Today the Council has published the promised second statement A Catholic Life in the Church of England: A Statement of Policy and Pastoral Guidance.

You can download the full text of the new statement here.

In the Society’s own words:

This statement by the Council of Bishops of The Society, issued in September 2015:

  • considers the relationship of parishes to the bishops of The Society and, through them, to its other parishes;
  • explains the criteria that the bishops follow in deciding whether to commend the ministry of bishops and priests, for the purpose of sacramental assurance;
  • explains the rationale for registering Priests, Deacons and Ordinands of The Society;
    sets out the bishops’ policy with regard to ordination;
  • considers what living in the highest degree of communion that principle and conscience will allow should mean in practice;
  • offers pastoral guidance on receiving Holy Communion and on concelebration.

The bishops call for openness to the Spirit, and for decisions to be taken ‘according to conscience and principle, and remembering the primacy of charity in the Church’.

There is also a leaflet titled Communion and Full Communion, based upon both statements, and available here.

The main press release about this is over here. The full text is copied below the fold.

Continue reading "SSWSH: A Catholic Life in the Church of England"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 at 12:35pm BST
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Saturday, 26 September 2015


Jonathan Langley Christian Today Five reasons why Paula Gooder is going to influence your theology

Nigel Genders Church Times Education: A vision to transform the world
This is one of several feature articles on education in this week’s Church Times; the others are behind the paywall.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 September 2015 at 9:27pm BST
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Friday, 25 September 2015

November General Synod - timetable

The timetable for the November meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available for download, and is copied below.


Monday 23 November
Induction of new and returning members

Tuesday 24 November
am Inauguration of the Synod

2.45 pm – 7.15 pm

2.45 pm Prayers, welcomes
Presidential Address: Archbishop of Canterbury
Business Committee Report
Introduction to Synod Worship by the Chaplain to the General Synod
Reform and Renewal Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session

*5.40 pm Questions

Wednesday 25 November

9.30 am – 1pm

9.30 am Morning Worship
Loyal Address
Presentation by the Archbishop of York on Global Warming
Debate on a motion moved by a member of the House of Bishops on the Migrant Crisis

Legislative Business
*11.30 am Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order

Presentation from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on research on “Public Perceptions of Jesus”

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

2.30 pm Debate on a Report from Church Buildings Review Group

*4.00 pm Farewell

4.30 pm Prorogation

4.45 pm (or 15 minutes after the prorogation if business is completed earlier):
Meeting of the House of Laity

*=not later than

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 September 2015 at 4:37pm BST
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Thursday, 24 September 2015

General Synod - diocesan candidates

Updated Friday

All the lists of candidates for General Synod for the diocesan constituencies, and their election addresses, are now available. There are links to all of them on my website.

Ian Paul has taken a look at the gender balance (or lack of it) of the candidates: Synod, representation and gender.


Tim Wyatt and Hattie Williams have also been looking at this for Church Times: Male candidates outnumber female in Synod elections.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 10:09am BST
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Lord Harries: speech in Lords debate on LGBTI Citizens Worldwide

On September 17, the House of Lords debated a motion

That this House takes note of the treatment of LGBTI citizens worldwide.

The record of the entire debate can be found starting here.

Readers may be most interested in the contribution of crossbencher Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. His speech starts here. Two extracts follow.

…Some Christians, while not able to accept same-sex marriage as a Christian option, have, however reluctantly—some have been very reluctant indeed—come to accept civil partnerships as a valid option for society as a whole. It is that second kind of change that I believe we have to work to achieve first in relation to conservative religious institutions.
In short, church leaders and institutions in those countries where LGBTI people are criminalised have to be urged to make a distinction between teaching which may be applicable for their own members in their private lives and the basic rights and dignity that need to be accorded to everyone in their society, whatever their religion or belief. Of course, working through secular channels to challenge the laws in those countries is fundamental. But behind those laws is a culture, as the noble Lords, Lord Black and Lord Paddick, mentioned and stressed—very often, as the noble Lord, Lord Black, said, a “toxic” culture. That toxic culture is, sadly, intertwined with religion.
It is no secret that the Anglican Communion has become very frayed at the edges on this issue. That is what I wrote in the first draft of this speech, but from what we read on the front page of some papers today, “frayed” is much too weak a word. The churches in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda are taking a very conservative and hard line and see themselves as quite apart from churches in North America. Nor is that the sum of it: the frontier of the culture wars in the USA has moved to Africa, with conservative forces in America lining up with and reinforcing the conservative forces in some African countries, as the noble Lord, Lord Black, quite rightly mentioned. Indeed there is evidence, which the Human Dignity Trust has on film, of some American churches actively proselytising in Uganda with a view to strengthening hard-line attitudes to gay and lesbian people.In those countries, the Christian churches have been and continue to be very strong. In contrast to Europe, they are a major influence in shaping the lives of people. If it is unrealistic to think of changing the minds of those churches on the issue itself in the short term, what can and should be done is to work on getting them to accept the legitimacy of the civil sphere, and, in particular, laws which protect the rights of minorities, not least LGBTI people.
The way that such people are treated in those countries is an affront to any concept of human decency, and the church must be challenged to see that its support for their criminalisation is a direct cause of this. It is an offence against the human person: the unique value and dignity of the individual, whatever their sexuality. It is a violation of everything that the Christian faith is meant to stand for. As a minimum, those states must be urged to act against those who commit acts of violence against LGBTI people…

And this:

…Behind those wider discriminatory attitudes there is a strong religious influence because, as I mentioned, most of those Commonwealth countries still have a strong Christian presence and continuing influence. That has to be addressed. I know that the main focus of diplomatic work is Government to Government, but there are opportunities to relate to wider civic society.
My concern, of which I hope that the Government take account, is that all those involved in setting up diplomatic meetings or organising conferences recognise the key role that Christian leaders play in many of the countries which have the most conservative attitudes, such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. If they are not to change their church teaching, they might be encouraged at least to acknowledge, and to help their churches to acknowledge, the validity of the civil sphere in its own right as safeguarding the rights and dignity of all human beings, whatever their sexuality.
I recognise that the main responsibility lies with the Christian churches here to help the churches in those countries to acknowledge the validity of this distinction, but I believe that our Government, through our normal diplomatic channels and intergovernmental agencies, also have opportunities to engage with wider civic society. Here, the Christian leaders, especially in the countries I mentioned, the Anglican archbishops and bishops, have an influential role. They themselves need to be decisively influenced to speak out for the human rights of LGBTI people…

Continue reading "Lord Harries: speech in Lords debate on LGBTI Citizens Worldwide"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 2:41pm BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | equality legislation

Christine Hardman's election as Bishop of Newcastle confirmed

Christine Hardman’s election as the next Bishop of Newcastle was confirmed last night (22 September) at a service in York Minster. She will be consecrated in York Minster on 30 November.

Confirmation of Election Service for the 12th Bishop of Newcastle

Christine now moves to the top of the list of diocesan bishops waiting for a place in the House of Lords. She will take the place of the next Lord Spiritual to retire, but will not have long to wait as the Bishop of Lichfield retires next week. A date for Christine’s introduction to the Lords has yet to be announced.

Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, will be introduced into the House of Lords on Monday 26 October at 2.30pm. David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK notes that the Parliamentary web site refers to her as the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, rather than the Lady Bishop [emphasis added].

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 9:49am BST
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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Canadian Church report on Marriage Canon is published

Message from the Primate on the Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon


Dear Friends in Christ,

Today the Council of General Synod received The Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon. The report is very comprehensive and reflects the commitment of the members to address General Synod 2013’s Resolution C003 in its fullness.

You will recall that the resolution requested consideration as to whether the proposal for amending The Marriage Canon would contravene The Solemn Declaration of 1893; and called for a theological and biblical rationale for the blessing of same sex marriages. The Commissioners take us into a deep exploration of the theology of marriage and present several models for understanding same sex marriage. In accord with the request in Resolution C003 for broad consultation throughout the Church the report includes a succinct summary of feedback received from Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners.

On behalf of the whole Church, I want to thank the Commissioners for the diligence with which they went about their work and fulfilled the mandate given them by The Council of General Synod. They have laboured long and produced a fine report which will be a valuable resource to the Church.

In commending it for widespread study, I pray we be guided by the wisdom of the Spirit’s leading in our preparation for conversations at General Synod 2016.

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

Download the report (PDF)

There is a further page which contains more information, and links to all the submissions that the commission received, here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 10:25pm BST
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Monday, 21 September 2015

More responses to the primates gathering announcement

Updated Tuesday morning

The GAFCON Primates Council Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, has published his September Pastoral Letter. The full text is here.

In it he says:

…Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.

A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Our GAFCON movement believes in a much richer vision. We seek to unite. We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution but also those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. To them we say ‘You are not alone’ as we join together to make Christ known…

Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard From Communion to…..Federation ? Andrew is clearly opposed to any such move.

Episcopal Café has published Editorial: Anglicanism-the muddle way. Andrew Gerns takes quite a different view.

Tuesday updates

Anglican Mainstream has published this article by Andrew Symes The wages of spin: death of truth? After discussing his own recent appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he concludes with this:

We are seeing a combination of spin, intimidation and hypocrisy as revisionist church leaders join with the secular media in creating distance between (in their narrative) ‘good religion’ of liberal Western Anglicanism, and the ‘bad religion’ of the orthodox version in the developing world. In North America the faithful confessing Anglicans have faced this, taking a public, costly stand, articulating the Bible’s clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human as part of a fully-orbed presentation of the counter cultural Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not been ashamed of association with African Christian leaders, warmly welcoming close fellowship and even oversight from them. The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to show at the January meeting that he rejects the revisionist tactics of the BBC/Guardian/Bishop of Manchester (that is, if the GAFCON Primates accept the invitation). Otherwise English evangelical Anglicans and orthodox anglo-Catholics will need to be moving ahead organizationally along the same lines as ACNA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 9:35am BST
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Petition calls for Bishop of Sodor and Man to resign

An online petition was launched on 7 September calling on the Bishop of Sodor and Man to resign: Bishop Stop the Bullying!. The petition is now closed with 194 signatures.

The Manx media picked up the story earlier this week.

John Turner Isle of Man Today Online petition calls for Isle of Man’s Bishop and Archdeacon to resign

Manx Radio Petition calls for bishop’s resignation

It is also reported that the bishop had a heart attack on Monday, although he appears to be well on the way to recovery.

Adrian Darbyshire Isle of Man Today Bishop recovering from heart attack

Isle of Man Today Bishop speaks to iomtoday about heart attack ordeal

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 September 2015 at 3:57pm BST
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Categorised as: Church of England | News