Thinking Anglicans

Church of England Task Groups: pre-pre-Synod papers

Updated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

The Church of England Press Office today announced a series of papers, to be published each day this week, about the various Task Group reports. The first starts:

The first batch of papers for the February 2015 meeting of the General Synod will be available to download from the Church of England website on Friday 16th January.

Due to the range and volume of material being issued in relation to the various Task Group reports there will be a daily release of key documents this week ahead of the general distribution of papers.

The first paper below is from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York giving an overview of the programme for reform and renewal represented by the work of the task groups and the materials on Discipleship.

This first paper is “In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal.

Paper 2 (Tuesday) is Developing Discipleship.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 3 (Wednesday) is Report of the Simplification Task Group.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Willesden.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 4 (Thursday) is Resourcing Ministerial Education in the Church of England.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 5 (Friday) is Resourcing the Future of the Church of England
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with John Spence.

Paper 6 (Friday) is Church Commissioners and the work of the Task Groups.
There is a blog and a video interview with Andreas Whittam Smith.

There is an online forum to discuss the above two papers.

I will add later papers to this page as they are published. All papers have now been published.
In addition I will publish my usual list of synod papers when they are published on Friday.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline ‘urgently’ reversed – Welby and Sentamu
Madeleine Davies Church Times Archbishops unveil ‘urgent’ reform programme for CofE

Gavin Drake Church Times Discipleship is important part of C of E reform programme

Church Times Task group aims to slim down church legislation

Gavin Drake Church Times_ Report proposes big drive to attract new priests

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useful in partsStevie GambleAlastair NewmanErika BakerFr William Recent comment authors
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Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

Credit where it’s due – unlike the Green report, this paper is almost entirely free of management-speak.

J Drever
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J Drever

As to the Telegraph piece, what is also needed (as a matter of urgency) is a national plan for the preservation of a very high proportion of the current stock of church buildings with perhaps only a residuum of Christian worship, as it is already far too late in a great many places to expect anything but extinction – and rather sooner than many suppose. We need a national plan because the current arrangements, which allow schemes to proceed on an ad hoc basis allow for a snip here and a snip there, so that the progressive unpicking of the… Read more »

Henry Dee
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Henry Dee

I totally agree with J Drever’s comments. In my town we have 5 churches within a 2-3 mile radius. Non with a congregation of more than 40 on a normal Sunday, all with a high proportion of elderly parishoners, struggling to pay their parish share. Logically it would make sense to close at least 3 to ensure that the other would have a future. But how do you choose? We all love our own churches, we have our different traditions. The larger church more central is newer and more accessable, the older ones on the edge are historic and listed… Read more »

Michael Chancellor
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Michael Chancellor

Yes, it is free of management-speak, but it is full of membership-speak. Both archbishops belong to that mind-set which believes the answer to decline is found in greater commitment and clearer distinctions between who belongs and who is an outsider. This is not the Anglican character – and the C of E is the national church, not a membership organisation. There are some proposals here which will compound the emerging congregationalism of the C of E, and risks our distinctive identity of being the place where everyone belongs unless they consciously choose to opt-out. The decimation of the Free Churches… Read more »

Jamie Wood
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Jamie Wood

J Drever, I agree 100% that a “national plan for the preservation of … the current stock of church buildings” is urgent. But, who should be the owner of this plan – the church or the state? I say firmly that we have 10000 listed buildings that we cannot afford to maintain, that the state makes the rules that says listed buildings must be maintained, that it is totally unfair that the responsibility and burden of maintaining those 10000 listed buildings should fall on the 2% of our adult population who regularly worship. Therefore the plan must be owned and… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
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Pete Broadbent

The buildings issue will be picked up in two ways. (1) The Bishop of Worcester, with his new charge of the Church Buildings Council, will be asked to oversee a piece of work to address those issues. (2) The Simplification Group is bringing forward some amendments to the Mission & Pastoral Measure to enable a better framework for redundancy and using some buildings on a less regular basis.

David Walker
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David Walker

J Drever suggests returning much of pension costs to the Church Commissioners. A bit of mental arithmetic suggests that current contributions into the Pension Fund are around £80M per annum. Even were the commissioners to take some of the strain by depleting capital, the bulk of the money would need to come from other costs being swapped from Commissioners to dioceses. My guess is that wealthier dioceses and those large parishes who pay for additional clergy off the diocesan balance sheet would benefit, poorer ones would lose out. Feels a bit regressive, that.

Neil Patterson
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Neil Patterson

Thank you to Bishop Pete for reminding us that the exciting outcomes of this can only in fact be quite boringly synodical and churchy.
Also for letting us know they have already been determined before the Synod debate. We do know we are only a costly talking shop really, but it’s decent to be told so directly now and again.

Paul Richardson
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Paul Richardson

I agree that these issues are a matter of urgency. And I am really glad that the Archbishops and Bishops are taking a lead on this. But “Urgent” does not need to have associated with it the sense of “Anxiety” that the Green Report and some of these other issues are exhibiting. We are in the Christmas to Candlemas cycle of the Church’s year in which we celebrate God’s Incarnation. God inhabits and embraces the whole creation. The world is shot through with God’s grace. Yes we need to work to help make that reality manifest in our world and… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

This is what I have put on the discussion board re discipleship: There is a great deal here which is really good, not least the use of scripture in an intelligent and apposite way rather than merely shoving a Biblical quote in here and there as if that proved something. So in making some more negative comments now I hope that will be seen in the light of my generally positive view of the tone etc. of this. 1. Revising the catechism as the denouement of this great urging of discipleship is rather an anticlimax! We had a revised catechism… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

The collapse of Christianity is stunning. There does need to be some radical look at how the good news of Jesus Christ can once again grip the hearts, minds and lives of people who meet Him. Leadership is clearly a significant part of the way forward, but looking at some of those elected to office by Synod and those who are employed as the public face of the CofE one might take a view such a church just doesn’t deserve to survive. The duplicity and essential dishonesty at its heart (particularly amongst its bishops and academics) needs to be extinguished… Read more »

Martin Hislop
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Martin Hislop

Totally agree with Michael Chancellor and Paul Richardson. These reports all lack a theological understanding that can be found to inform and drive their recommendations. They all remain committed to a centralisation of the CofE rather than an empowerment of local expression; Conformity to corporatist targets and goals rather then facilitating the freedom for Grace and the Spirit to flow throughout the Church and out into the wider community.

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“39.We have a clear vision as the Church of England to contribute to the common good of our society” Paper 2

In what way does the contemptible act of exempting itself from large swathes of equality legislation contribute to this ‘clear vision’.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

A catechism might help the catechists to sing from the same hymn sheet

J Drever
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J Drever

I am most grateful to David Walker for his remarks (and I wonder if he is an ex officio commissioner…). I suggested that the Commissioners might resume some of the burden of supporting clergy pensions because: (i) the Commissioners appear to have been very successful in most years since 1998, save where the alleged excessive emphasis upon equities that exposed them in 2007-8; (ii) the successful performance of the Commissioners contrasts painfully with that of most dioceses since 1998 (I keep hearing anecdotal evidence in many of the parishes I have visited of certain dioceses being ‘on the brink’, even… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Re: Discipleship. I was really impressed by the Methodists prayer/covenant.For what it’s worth, this is the Baptismal Covenant in TEC. It’s renewed several times per year and calls everyone to be disciples. Some conservatives say that this is what is “wrong” with TEC. The Anglican Communion adopted the Five Marks of Mission, and I thought we were supposed to take them seriously, and I didn’t see them in the long article, maybe I missed it. The Baptismal Covenant Starts with the Apostle’s Creed and goes on: Celebrant: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of… Read more »

Fr William
Guest

There was consternation amongst some diocesan staff when I suggested that CofE schools should promote an Anglican ethos, not just a Christian ethos. Can you imagine a Catholic school that did not teach a Catholic ethos? I see some correspondents have poured scorn on the notion of a catechism. I see nothing wrong with that in the BCP, suitably updated.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Laurence,

“In what way does the contemptible act of exempting itself from large swathes of equality legislation contribute to this ‘clear vision’.”

That’ll be the one where we are countercultural and not following mere secular values, and if only the rest of the world recognised that we are right, society would be a better place and the common good would be served.

useful in parts
Guest

I think its rather wonderful that the CofE is issuing all these various reports – and see it as an opportunity to try and understand and engage in their (HQs?) thinking on a no. of weighty issues

For those who are time poor I’ve tried to summarise in a non-partisan way the various reports – I hope people find these useful

http://bit.ly/1A5p2zW Talent management
http://bit.ly/1CfbYat Renewal & Reform Programme
http://bit.ly/1yg90mU Developing Discipleship
http://bit.ly/1KMYkRX Simplification

Alastair Newman
Guest

Am I alone in not really understanding what the Simplification report is all about (having read the Executive Summary and Summary of Key Recommendations)?

Is it necessary to read the lot to work out what the practical implications will be?

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

Well, the stuff about rebranding Church schools back in 2012, where the Church was allegedly going to make lots of money selling its expertise to other players in the educational free market, doesn’t seem to have worked very well.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9150817/Church-of-England-schools-to-be-rebranded.html

At some point it may finally dawn on those presiding over this sorry state of affairs that human beings searching for God are unlikely to start with an organisation which is apparently obsessed with free market ideology, apart from when it’s being obsessed with policing sexuality…

useful in parts
Guest

Well this has been a busy week hasn’t it?

I’ve just finished the summary of the last report – the Commissioners funding report.

So for those who are time poor here are some links to my summaries of the various reports. I’ve tried hard to summarise in a non-partisan way I hope people find useful.

http://bit.ly/1A5p2zW Talent management
http://bit.ly/1CfbYat Renewal & Reform Programme
http://bit.ly/1yg90mU Developing Discipleship
http://bit.ly/1KMYkRX Simplification
http://bit.ly/1IO8IH8 Resourcing Ministerial Education
http://bit.ly/1BJ81wI Resourcing the future
http://bit.ly/1yylk2d Church Commissioners’ funds & inter-generational equity

And if you want to compare & contrast with Dioceses Strategy … http://bit.ly/1tczcgA