Thinking Anglicans

Trouble at York Minster – today's developments

Updated Saturday evening and Sunday evening

We reported in October that York Minster’s team of bell-ringers had been disbanded.

The last few days have seen reports that the Minster has been having difficulties recruiting temporary bell-ringers to ring over Christmas, eg The Guardian and The Telegraph.

The Minster has today issued a statement giving more details of their decision to disband the bell-ringers, as reported here by Minster FM: Minster claims there’s been “intimidation” over Bellringer row.

York Minster says bellringers who’ve offered to step in to help the cathedral have suffered intimidation on social media and in the local media.

In a statement from The Chapter of York they also claim at least one member has been threatened with legal action.

They say despite this, they’re still exploring options for the ringing at Christmas and hope those wanting to volunteer will be able to approach them without the fear of intimidation.

The Minster statement in full also goes over the details of why this situation happened which were reported in the media back in September [sic] …

The article goes on to quote the Minster statement in full.

John Bingham also reports on this story for The Telegraph: York Minster bell-ringers sacked over stance on ‘ongoing’ abuse risk to children.

York Minster’s team of bell-ringers were disbanded because they refused to accept that a leading member of their group had been assessed as presenting an “ongoing risk” of child abuse, the minster’s governing body has said…

In what amounts to the most detailed explanation of the saga to date, they made clear that the apparently sudden decision to disband the 30-strong ringing team in October was just the “culmination” of weeks of discussion about the issue…

Updates (Saturday evening)
The York ringers have issued a statement in response to that of the Dean and Chapter, denying any suggestion of intimidation. They continue to put their side of the story and again ask the Dean and Chapter to discuss the matter with them so that it can be resolved. Their statement can be read here.

(Sunday evening)
Archbishop Cranmer Peace on earth and good will to all men – except the sacked bell-ringers of York Minster

Because of the nature of this story we ask all commenters to be especially careful in what they write. Comments containing ad hominem remarks will not be published.

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John Swanson
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John Swanson

Archbishop Cranmer’s take on this makes me nervous, in that it could easily be construed as not attaching sufficient weight to the importance of keeping children safe. And I write as a bellringer myself, who thinks that the nature, scope, and poor communication of the Dean and Chapter’s actions seem on the face of it rather hard to justify. Nonetheless, we should not confuse different thresholds of proof. An individual is not convicted of an offence; that means the evidence did not reach “certain”, or “beyond reasonable doubt” in older terminology. No court action was brought against an individual; that… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

John Swanson has articulated much better than I ever could why child protection is an area where erring on the side of caution can be entirely justified.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

John Swanson, just as we should not confuse different thresholds of proof, so too we should not confuse different actions. And in evaluating different actions, we should make use of the facts that we do know. You are speaking of an individual, not convicted, whom the Minster banned from its grounds in April 2015. I don’t know enough to judge the wisdom or folly of that decision. But the issue now is, why did the Minster sack 30 more ringers in October 2016? I can see no justification for for this action. In particular, on safeguarding, here is what the… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Only now, amid the election news and the Scottish Episcopal Church decision, do we learn that the Minster has selected a member of the former band as its new head of tower!

This entire episode appears to have been an own goal of Theresa May proportions by the D&C. But at least they have begun the climb-down before Synod meets in York.

https://yorkminster.org/about-us/working-with-us/news/new-head-of-bell-tower-for-york-minster.html