Thinking Anglicans

Safeguarding data 2018

Press release from the Church of England

Safeguarding data 2018

Safeguarding data has been published today taken from annual safeguarding returns, collected by dioceses in 2018 and sent to the National Safeguarding Team. It also contains comparison on data collected over the three previous years 2015-17.

The majority of safeguarding-related concerns or allegations relate to children or vulnerable adults who attend or who have contact with the Church and their lives within the community.

Overall the number of concerns or allegations reported to dioceses in 2018 relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults in the Church was 2,504. This compares to 3287 in 2017, and is slightly higher than 2015 and slightly lower than 2016.

A quarter of concerns or allegations in 2018 required reporting to statutory authorities similar to 2017.

In 2018, 16% of all concerns (400 cases) relate to clergy, including retired and deceased clergy, a slight increase on the average for 2015-17 which was around 12%. There are currently around 20,000 active clergy in the Church.

Safeguarding-related disciplinary measures against clergy decreased in 2018 and combined with the increase in reports against clergy this suggests that more concerns are being raised earlier because there are greater overall numbers of reports but lower numbers of disciplinary cases.

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, a member of the National Safeguarding Steering Group, said:
“In any report about data of this nature, it is important to recognise that behind each statistic are real human lives and that this is a snapshot of the vital safeguarding work going on in all our 16,000 churches across the country. As the report states it is most likely that where there is an increase compared to previous years this reflects the impact of safeguarding training across the whole Church, and the increased likelihood that people will report concerns to their diocesan safeguarding adviser, where there may have been greater reticence in the past. The NST will continue to study trends over a longer period to inform its ongoing safeguarding work and has committed to publishing data on an annual basis.”


Dean of Bristol

Press release from Number 10

Reverend Canon Doctor Amanda Ford appointed Dean of Bristol: 3 June 2020

The Queen has approved that the Reverend Canon Doctor Amanda (Mandy) Ford be appointed Dean of Bristol.

Published 3 June 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved that the Reverend Canon Doctor Amanda (Mandy) Ford, Canon Chancellor and Director of Discipleship and Ministry in the Diocese of Southwark, be appointed Dean of Bristol following the appointment of the Very Reverend Doctor David Hoyle MBE as Dean of Westminster.

There are more details on the Bristol diocesan website.

1 Comment

Opinion – 3 June 2020

Alison Webster ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to not Caring about Care

Russell Dewhurst All Things Lawful And Honest Table for One
“The lawfulness of Holy Communion celebrated without a congregation”

Together for the Common Good The Plague and the Parish: An Invitation to the Churches

Church Times Lockdown could change the Church permanently
Richard Giles, John Sadler, and Robert Warren “call for a radical rethink of the work of a parish priest”

Janet Fife Surviving Church The Church of England Gentlemen’s Club


Dean of the Arches and Auditor of the Chancery Court of York

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both published the following announcement.

New Dean of the Arches and Auditor of the Chancery Court of York appointed

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are delighted to announce that Morag Ellis QC has been appointed as Dean of the Arches and Auditor on the retirement of Charles George QC. Morag will take up her duties on the 8th June 2020.

Morag was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1984 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2006. She began her career at 8, New Square (now Cornerstone Barristers) before moving to Francis Taylor Building in 2014. Morag was appointed Commissary General of the Diocese of Canterbury in 2011, and Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark in 2013. In 2015 Morag was appointed as a Panel Chair to Clergy Discipline Tribunals and became a member of the Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod in 2016. She was appointed as QC Church Commissioner in 2019. She is also a Reader licensed in the Diocese of Chelmsford.

The Archbishops would like to express their enormous thanks to Charles for his remarkable service over the last 11 years and wish him well as he steps down from the role.

The Dean of the Arches (Province of Canterbury) and Auditor (Province of York) is the most senior ecclesiastical judge in England and as Master of the Faculties is responsible for the regulation of the notarial profession in England and Wales and some overseas jurisdictions. The appointment is made jointly by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen.

1 Comment

Opinion – 30 May 2020

Sam McNally-Cross All Things Lawful And Honest For the love of God, don’t sacrifice the poor.

Philip Murray All Things Lawful And Honest Thoughts and questions about ‘online Church’

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of bishops, truth, & the flimsy altar of political expediency

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church A letter from the future. Safeguarding in 2025

Peter Crumpler Christian Today Longing for a return to church

Rachel Treweek ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Social Distancing

Richard Bastable All Things Lawful And Honest Archiepiscopal Contradictions


The Church Commissioners Annual Report 2019

Press release from the Church of England

Church Commissioners for England publish their 2019 Annual Report

The Church Commissioners for England, the endowment fund of the Church of England, published today its Annual Report for 2019.

Key results include:

  • The Church Commissioners made a positive return of 10% in 2019
  • Value of Commissioners’ investment fund stood at £8.7bn (year end 2019)
  • Church Commissioners post eleventh successive year of positive returns
  • The total return averaged over the past 30 years at 8.5% per annum.
  • The Church Commissioners contributed approximately 15% of the Church’s annual running costs.
  • In 2019 £19.4m was awards in SDF to 11 projects in 11 dioceses.

To download a copy of the full report, please click here.

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Christ Church makes safeguarding accusations against Dean

Updated again Friday

Update: the Church Times has a news article today, Dean Percy faces further challenges at Christ Church, Oxford. This omits reference to the letter to the Charity Commission copied below. Concerning the National Safeguarding Team aspect of this story, it says this:

…In 2018, the Dean cited past safeguarding concerns reported to him as evidence that the college’s procedures were inadequate. Earlier this year, the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team set up a core group to examine the Dean’s handling of those concerns.

The latest issue of Private Eye reports that two members of that core group are complainants from the college, including the Senior Censor, Professor Geraldine Johnson. A C of E spokesperson said on Wednesday: “As at any core group, safeguarding leads from relevant bodies or institutions were invited to share information to work out a way forward; in this case from the Cathedral, the College, the Cathedral school, and the diocese.”

The Dean is not formally represented on the core group, though he has been sent its terms of reference.

The spokesperson emphasised: “The core group has never asked the Dean to stand down — he was asked to abide by certain conditions.”

Archbishop Cranmer has a comprehensive report on the latest horrific developments at Christ Church, Oxford here:

The harrowing of Martyn Percy (part ii): Church of England colludes in bullying

The article above links to many of the sources quoted, particularly those likely to be behind a paywall of some kind. Nevertheless here for completeness are some more:

Private Eye  Christ Church at war

Telegraph Oxford Dean row reignites as trustees calling for his removal say he has ‘lack of moral compass’

Daily Mail High noon at high table: Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, refuses to resign in bitter dispute over claims he was a ‘little Hitler’ who complained about his £90,000 salary

Two letters in the Telegraph (scroll down to “Row over Oxford dean”) from Brian Martin and Jimmy James

Another letter in The Times which you can read here.


A letter to Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, signed by 60 persons, has been released. See the PDF copy for the list of signatories (full disclosure: I am one). The text of the letter is copied below.

Dear Lady Stowell

You recently received a letter from some individual trustees of Christ Church Oxford making a series of allegations against their Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy.

We wish to express our confidence in Martyn Percy. We know him in our various capacities, as a man of consistently good character, an exceptional scholar, a respected public servant, and an outstanding Christian leader.

We do not speculate on the reasons why some members of the Governing Body of Christ Church wish to go to such extreme lengths to destroy the reputation of their Dean and to break his spirit. But we do know that :

  • The recent letter is the latest episode in a sustained campaign against the Dean led by senior members of the college Governing Body since his appointment.
  • The specific allegations against Martyn Percy have changed over time, but each allegation has been disproved. In August of last year Dean Percy was wholly exonerated after an extensive investigation by Sir Andrew Smith, a retired High Court judge.
  • The signatories of the letter are far from objective. Several of them were revealed by Sir Andrew to have employed devious methods and offensive language in their efforts to break his resolve, and some will be parties to an Employment Tribunal tobe heard next year.
  • The grievances in the letter are a set of untested and gratuitous assertions for which no evidence is provided.
  • The insinuation that Dean Percy personally represents a safeguarding risk is abhorrent and wholly unjustified.
  • The suggestion that he “lacks a moral compass” is so far from the truth as to be laughable, were it not so insulting.

We believe that Martyn Percy is a victim of gross injustice and malice. We wish to see this damaging business resolved justly, and with the minimum delay, so that he can continue to exercise his gifts in leading Christ Church.

Respectfully yours,


Opinion – 27 May 2020

Elizabeth Anderson Earth and Altar “Wash Your Own Feet”: on singleness and the domestic church

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Speeding up the Tortoise

Jamie Harrison ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Pre-Judging Our “Good Samaritans”

Christopher Craig Brittain Anglican Journal
The Eucharist and coming out of lockdown: A tract for these COVID-19 times
On virtual communion: A tract for these COVID-19 Times (Part II)


Bishops criticise Dominic Cummings

Updated again Thursday afternoon

There has been widespread media coverage of the interventions made by numerous Church of England bishops in the story about Dominic Cummings. Here is a sample:

And there have been several blog articles discussing them:

Mark Strange, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has published the letter he sent to the Prime Minister. You can read that here.


Opinion – 23 May 2020

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back….to Power Games & Inequality
The Guardian reports on this as Synod member attacks Church of England’s ‘self-obsession’ in pandemic

Zoë Ettinger Insider Inside 19 of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world
The photographs are also available here.

Tom Wright Church Times Don’t let the weak go to the wall again
“Society needs wise, statesmanlike leadership — not a mad rush back to profiteering”

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of ‘new vision,’ status, money and prayer.

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau When lockdown ends, what will ‘normal’ be like?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Iwerne Camps. All Change?

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Zooming Along


House of Bishops meeting

Press release from the Church of England

House of Bishops

A meeting of the House of Bishops took place today on Thursday, the 21st of May 2020 (by Zoom).

The meeting was a resumption of the previous meeting of the House of 19 May which was adjourned by the Chair due to technical issues.

Amongst the issues discussed by the House:

  • An update on the Church’s activity on COVID-19 with reflections and insights given by three Diocesan bishops as well as insights from Brendan McCarthy, Medical Ethics Health and Social Care Policy adviser, and continuing preparations for the gradual reopening of churches for prayer and worship, led by Bishop Sarah Mullally.
  • Updates from groups of bishops looking at coronavirus and its implications for the future of the Church of England were given, with a series of breakout groups further looking at issues including political and economic change, shifts in technology as well as the impact of demographic change.

The Archbishop of Canterbury led a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the House, to the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu for his dedicated ministry and service.

The next meeting will be held on 9 June 2020.


Postponement of General Synod elections

As I reported earlier this month the July meeting of General Synod has been cancelled. In addition the Archbishops said they would ask the Privy Council to postpose the election of a new Synod, due this summer, by twelve months. The Council met yesterday, and accepted the Archbishops’ request. The current Synod will now be dissolved on 31 July 2021.

The details are in Statutory Instrument 2020 No 526: The General Synod of the Church of England (Postponement of Elections) Order 2020.


Confirmation of Election of Bishop Stephen Cottrell as the 98th Archbishop of York

The Church of England has announced that Stephen Cottrell will be confirmed as the next Archbishop of York on 9 July 2020. The proceedings will be via video conference. Details are in today’s press release which is copied below.

Confirmation of Election of Bishop Stephen Cottrell as the 98th Archbishop of York, Thursday 9 July 2020

Bishop Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell will be confirmed as the 98th Archbishop of York at 11am on Thursday 9 July 2020, in a service broadcast entirely via video conference due to the Coronavirus restrictions. As Presiding Judge, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, has granted permission for the virtual service to take place.

The service, which had been due to take place in York Minster, will be in two parts: a legal ceremony with readings, prayers and music; and a film marking the start of Bishop Stephen’s ministry as Archbishop of York.

The service will include music from York Minster Choir and Manor Church of England Academy School (York). Young people from across the North of England, will read a letter written by the medieval religious scholar Alcuin of York. Bishop Stephen will offer his first address as Archbishop of York. Prayers will be offered for the Archbishop, the Diocese of York and the Northern Province of the Church of England as well as for the wider world in these difficult times. (more…)


Opinion – 20 May 2020

Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England God, the Virus and Tragic Optimism

Peter Leonard OneBodyOneFaith Be Hot With Anger, But Do Not Boil Away…

Tim Goode ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Our Old Familiar Cages!

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Jonathan Fletcher Inquiry. Progress?

Thomas Plant Greater Silence Your parish church is not an idol: it’s an icon


Opinion – 16 May 2020

Nicholas Henshall ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Being Focused on Our Own Significance

Savitri Hensman Church of England Newspaper Sharing burdens and showing kindness

Gilo Surviving Church Elites, the Church and the Dynamics of Social Power

Christina Beardsley DLT Books Blog Feeling Unsafe

Steve Morris Church Times Many are on the brink of financial disaster
“Credit unions are needed more than ever to help those who face money troubles”

K Augustine Tanner-Ihm Church Times Social distancing is a race issue
“It is a permanent reality for people of colour”


Opinion – 13 May 2020

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim A Post-Covid CofE : Better than ‘Songs of Praise’ Repeats?

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of being invigorated & tired by church

Tina Beardsley ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…But We Can Say Sorry

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Toxic Power of Secrets in the Church

Rachel Mann Where do we go from here? Towards An Unknown Church … Part Two – REST


Churches respond to government recovery strategy

Updated yet again Thursday evening

The Church of England has issued this:

Statement on latest Government guidance on coronavirus

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, said: “We note from the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy that churches could be open from July as part of the conditional and phased plan to begin lifting the lockdown. We look forward to the time when we are able to gather again in our church buildings.

“We are examining what steps we will need to take to do so safely and are actively planning ahead in preparation. We strongly support the Government’s approach of continuing to suppress the transmission of the virus and accordingly, we recognise that at this time public worship cannot return in the interests of public health and safety.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this:


The timing and the manner of the opening of churches touches profound sensitivities and spiritual needs. The Government’s document and statements fail to recognise this.

The Government’s position, established today, includes these steps aimed at opening churches as soon as possible: the establishment of a task force for places of worship, to work closely with ‘stakeholders’ in ensuring that premises are COVID-19 secure; and heeding the experience of other countries in which churches are already open for worship.

In dialogue with the Government, the Catholic Church will continue its engagement in this process and has already submitted a detailed plan, in full accordance with public health guidelines, for churches to be opened for private prayer.

The Church is ready to play its full part in the task force, understanding that this includes the possible earlier use of churches for private prayer, as a first safe step towards their use for public worship.

Will these two organisations now consult each other? The Catholic bishops took full advantage from the outset of the government regulations, to maintain livestreamed worship from inside their church buildings.

Update 1 Wednesday evening

The Government has announced that Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, will chair a taskforce to develop plans for the re-opening of “places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings”.  For more detail see Reopening of places of worship in England: breaking news and the government announcement is here.

Update 2 Thursday morning

The Church of England had issued this press release:

Notice from House of Bishops meeting
The House of Bishop met by Zoom today. The bishops prayed together and continued to discuss all matters relating to the COVID 19 pandemic and how they affect the church.

Several hours later, this was replaced by a revised version:

Notice from House of Bishops meeting
The House of Bishops met today (on Zoom) where the various impacts of Covid-19 on a wide range of church matters and national issues were discussed. The Bishops continued in prayer for the victims and families of those most affected.

Update 3 Thursday afternoon

The Church Times has published this report: Churches wary, as task force meets to plan reopening. This includes a full report on the views of Cardinal Nichols.


Church access: responses to criticism of the bishops

Yesterday Bishop Stephen Cottrell had a letter published in The Times. Text available here.

The following letter from Bishop Richard Llewellin appears in The Times today, in response.

Sir, Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s letter (May 11) misses the point. The decision to close buildings for public worship was indeed made by the government, but the instruction (and it was an instruction, not advice) that even our clergy should not enter their own churches for prayer was given by our bishops. That instruction went well beyond what the government required of its citizens, and sent a signal that the C of E was closing down completely. Resourceful clergy have been making the best of it by streaming prayer and worship from their own homes and have, of course, offered ministry alongside their parishioners in many other ways. But kitchen table is not an altar, and living room not a church. These latter are not dispensable things of convenience, but symbols of God’s presence with us and His care for us in these dangerous and difficult times.
The Right Rev Richard Llewellin
Bishop at Lambeth 1999-2004; Canterbury

Meanwhile, over at the Telegraph, Stephen Cottrell has written an article: The Church will emerge from the coronavirus crisis even stronger. For those unable to view directly, the Church of England has reproduced it in full on its Facebook page (albeit with a different headline: God is at work, even when our church buildings are closed) and also on the CofE website.

This is reported in a Telegraph news article: Clergy to start streaming services from churches this week, Archbishop designate confirms

…The guidance that churches must close completely was given on March 23 in response to the outbreak and has been reviewed “on an ongoing basis”, with the Bishops acting “within Government advice and in line with best public health practice”.

The policy attracted protests, including a letter published in The Times and signed by more than 600 clergy and laity.

Last month, The Telegraph reported that some vicars were rebelling against guidance issued  by the Archbishop of Canterbury ahead of the Easter weekend, warning clergy that they could not enter churches for solo prayer nor to film a service, despite provisions for this in the Government’s lockdown rules.

The Most Rev Justin Welby used a YouTube message to  echo the first Government slogan repeated during the daily ministerial press conferences on coronavirus, saying it was vital that the church “set an example” in following the guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“By closing the churches, we make a powerful symbol of the need to listen to that message,” he said. Some vicars responded by saying: “Now is the time to revolt.”

Yesterday’s post links to a detailed analysis of the various previous statements from the House of Bishops, which explains why the original “advice” of the House of Bishops, which was more stringent than the government regulations require, provoked criticism.


Mark Tanner to be the next Bishop of Chester

Press release from Number Ten

Bishop of Chester: 12 May 2020
Queen approves nomination of Reverend Mark Simon Austin Tanner as Bishop of Chester.

Published 12 May 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Mark Simon Austin Tanner MA BA MTh, Suffragan Bishop of Berwick, for election as Bishop of Chester in succession to The Right Reverend Doctor Peter Forster, following his resignation on 30th September 2019.

More details
Chester diocesan website
Newcastle diocesan website


Opinion – 9 May 2020

Serenhedd James The Critic Priests and palaces
“The Archbishops don’t realise the significance of the church building”

David Ison ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Being In Control

OneBodyOneFaith An Engagement in Lockdown

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer The Church should shine during lockdown

Rachel Mann Where do we go from here? Towards an Unknown Church … Part One … FRAGILITY

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau Coronavirus and moral responsibility