Thursday, 4 October 2007

Wycliffe Hall: council member resigns

Religious Intelligence has reported that there is a New crisis for Anglican college as council member resigns by Ed Beavan.

A COUNCIL member of the under-fire Oxford theological college Wycliffe Hall has resigned because of her concerns over failures by the body to ‘respond to allegations of bullying, intimidation of Council members and a lack of transparency in its decision making’.

Clare MacInnes announced her resignation in a letter to the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, who is chair of the Council of Wycliffe Hall, which she also sent to The Church of England Newspaper.

Mrs MacInnes said she had decided to put the letter in the public domain because of the ‘importance of the issues for the ongoing welfare and governance of the Hall and the wider church’.

In the letter she says that that the Council had ‘failed to observe due process’in the areas of terminating staff employment, staff recruitment, the Listening Process, records of Council discussions, and Council membership…

The story is also reported in the Guardian by Stephen Bates under the headline College council member quits over ‘bullying’.

…In her letter of resignation this week, council member Clare MacInnes told the Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who is chairman of governors: “I am disturbed by the council’s failure to respond to allegations of bullying, intimidation of council members and a lack of transparency in its decision-making … I regret I have no confidence in the chair, the principal or the council as a whole to address these serious matters of governance, employment practice and simple human relationships.” Her letter suggests that a decision to pay Dr Turnbull a salary thousands of pounds above national pay scales was not properly appraised by the council when he was appointed two years ago.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:59am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Sad to see more tensions.....but I still trust Dr Turnbull and Bishop James Jones.

Wait to hear their side of things before rushing to judgment

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 8:27am BST

In the Guardian Stephen Bates notes that Clare MacInnes letter reveals that a decision to pay Turnbull a salary thousands of pounds above national pay scales was not properly appraised by the council when he was appointed two years ago.

Is it possible that we now have sleaze to go with the disregard for due process, intimidation, bullying, obfuscation, stonewalling, and suppression of dissenting voices? What will it take for the appalling management at Wycliffe to offer a mea culpa for this outrageous farce?

Posted by: John Omani on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 8:47am BST

John

I think this is one of the times that the solution will not come from within. The cup has been emptied of all but those who like the tea bag.

The tea bag needs to be thrown out by a bigger hand...

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:19am BST

NP,

My initial opinion on this issue was to support the Principal and the Chairman on the Council on this issue - it would be natural to do so. However, given the extreme situation which is continuing to unravel with vast numbers of highly qualified individuals resigning, both from the academic staff and from the governing council, it must be realised that the situation is reaching somewhat of a tipping point.

I heard in media reports that approximately half of the academic staff have resigned from Wycliffe Hall - this must constitute a tipping point. I do not know the structures both within The wider university and indeed the Church of England to review both Turnbull and Jones' positions along with the Hall's relationship both with the Church and the university, but I am quite sure that these are being investigated at this stage by the appropriate parties.

rgds
J

Posted by: JohnF on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 11:41am BST

Oxford should shut the place down.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 11:50am BST

That's a very interesting and colourful way of putting it Cheryl. I've not heard such an expression before - is it yours? It is very good.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 12:34pm BST

It is quite possible that some few of those removed from Wycliffe may be consulting their lawyers particularly if the astonishing revelations in the resignation letter of council member Clare MacInnes are to be believed. And you have to admire her repeated brave attempts to resolve this matter before she resigned.

If those with responsibility now find themselves before an employment tribunal and are found to have breached employment regulations would it then be fair to expect them to resign?

If the college avoids a hearing and decides to pay sizeable compensation to those removed – should the Principle and others be removed for exercising poor stewardship and management of college resources?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 1:31pm BST

JohnF - yes, but note the last 3 "to leave" were actually removed....so, I think we have to wait and see why what has happened has happened. It is very significant that Bishop James Jones is still giving the principal his full support.

Merseymike - why should Oxford do that? Because WH academics (including those who have left) do not agree with you that certain sins are suddenly not sins?

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 1:58pm BST

As a matter of interest, I had an interview today in an education institution for a post that involves equality and diversity issues, and thanks to the institution of the Church of England and the Hereford case I was able to speak with some knowledge about these matters, of which we might say there are "undertones" here (to use Eeva John's word about the implications of narrow theology at Wycliffe). I was able to say just how public authorities cannot and should not behave in the way the Church of England has been doing (and impressed how ridiculous the Church of England is now looking over and again on this matter). Raising my involvement in the Church of England - like helping groups function, public speaking and the like - raised suspicions about my commitment to equality. I made it clear where my sympathies lie, and it was along the lines of a unity of equality consistent with the government merging three equality bodies into one and not the Church of England. It just brings to light how sectarian, how self-obsessed, the Church of England now appears, and how no other public institution can go anywhere near it with its attitudes and internal contradictions, as was illustrated in the Hereford case. (Interviewer: "Thank you for that comprehensive answer.")

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 2:54pm BST

NP: what WOULD it take you to accept that Wycliffe might be in serious trouble? The Parousia? Joseph Smith's Golden Tablets?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:01pm BST

I think it is too early to comment on the salary issue yet - and that this was rather below the belt. However, if people are pushed into such a corner that they have no alternative, then this is what happens - even if sad.

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:44pm BST

Things have got so bad that those who can do something about
this college - need to act before more harm is done to the teaching of theology in Oxford.

Posted by: Terry Henderson on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:23pm BST

mynster - if Bishop James Jones withdrew his support for the Principal, I would worry.....his continues support keeps me from rushing to judgment given you and I are not in possession of many facts really

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:28pm BST

Unfortunately, I don't know who these people are 'who can do something about this college', other than the Principal and Council. The Council is self-appointing, and the Principal has the support of (most of) the Council at this point. As a post on Ship of Fools points out, Ministry Division can only withdraw accreditation - a drastic measure which would seem improbable given the healthy numbers at Wycliffe. The Charity Commissioners could get involved but are unlikely to do so. The University might terminate Wycliffe's PPH status, but this is another 'nuclear option'. What's really called for is a further resignation or two at the highest level, but nobody expects those implicated to do the decent thing any time soon. It might take at least a court case to force their hand.

Posted by: Sarah on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 5:33pm BST

NP: "if Bishop James Jones withdrew his support for the Principal, I would worry"

And what if the Bishop is part of the problem?

Such as:
MacInnes: "I regret I have no confidence in the chair (i.e the Bishop), the principal or the council as a whole to address these serious matters of governance, employment practice and simple human relationships."

But, if you insist, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Posted by: dave p on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:38pm BST

NP: "his continues support keeps me from rushing to judgment "

But you're so *GOOD* at rushing to judgment of people with whom you disagree. It's pretty much one of your core competencies.

Why stop now?

Posted by: dave p on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:39pm BST

Funny, NP - the mounting toll of worrisome stuff out of Wycliffe leads me to wonder at the soundness of episcopal judgment. Odd how we differ.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 8:00pm BST

The salary allegation is very serious indeed.

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 8:23pm BST

NP: your other posts demonstrate that you consider a good many Anglican bishops to be fallible - have you stopped to consider that Bishop James Jones and the council may be part of the problem rather than the solution?

We've seen a great deal of evidence already, some of which is plainly stated above, that the Council's handling of the situation leaves very much to be desired.

Posted by: Matthew B on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 10:01pm BST

Pluralist

The tea bag imagery could be my own or simply a sharing with the source forgotten.

There can be terrible times in institutions’ histories where evidence is destroyed or hidden, as we have seen in orphanages and boarding schools.

John at last count 8 of the 13 academic staff had left in the last year (I don't know if Eeva now makes that 9). That is way outside of normal numbers.

Clare's conscience is obviously concerned. She might be heartened by Obadiah or Malachi. Malachi 2:4-9:""...you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD Almighty. “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace... He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge… But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi… So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people...”"

There are times to reform and inspire from within e.g. Abraham, Daniel and Joseph. When the ruling authorities are excessively tyrannical, the only way forward is to break their authority e.g. Moses, Jesus and Mohammad.

History at this time requires an end of aggressive strategies, so we are seeking to reform from within by isolating the troublemaking camps. Thus we act as the feminine or earth that surrounds and swallows the troublemaking camps e.g. Numbers 18:30-33 or Jeremiah 31:22

See also Isaiah 43:19-28 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me... because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to… my chosen… “Yet you have not called upon me… you have not wearied yourselves for me... I have not burdened… nor wearied you with demands… But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses. “I… who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence… your spokesmen rebelled against me. So I will disgrace the dignitaries of your temple…"

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 10:30pm BST

"The Council is self-appointing"???

Well, there you have it in a nutshell.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 6:23am BST

dave p - I do not rush to judgment.... I merely point out when people are contradicting scripture, tradition and the reason in agreed Anglican positions (normally to justify their own behaviour, funnily enough)

mynster / Matthew B - sure, +Liverpool may be wrong. I do not know. But he is a good egg. I think he deserves some trust and I doubt he would be backing Dr Turnbull without good reason.

Posted by: NP on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:29am BST

Hi Cheryl-

You write: 'History at this time requires an end of aggressive strategies'.

?? So aggressive strategies were ok up till now? :o(

Surely they never have been and never will be ok unless as a last resort.

See my comment on the next Wycliffe post.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 5 October 2007 at 12:50pm BST

NP wrote. “+Liverpool may be wrong. I do not know. But he is a good egg. I think he deserves some trust and I doubt he would be backing Dr Turnbull without good reason.”

Experience indicates, that people defend their mistakes when they have “screwed up big time” – as the saying goes.

Besides, it is not “he is a good egg”, it is “a bad egg”. The imagery is not about “good” but rotten.

Nor is it done to say, as you did in another thread, to Lapinbizarre that he is “an interesting case”. Simply not done.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 6 October 2007 at 8:53am BST

NP (of +Liverpool) "I think he deserves some trust"

I recall a comment from a senior priest I once knew, "The reason bishops wear those funny split hats is nothing to do with the flames of the Holy Spirit - it's because they are forced to speak with forked tongue." Or one from (I believe) the current +Lincoln "A shiver of fear went round the House of Bishops, seeking in vain a spine down which to run."

Apologies to those in the purple who might be looking in, but the constraints of the job make boat-rocking terribly difficult. Could +Liverpool REALLY afford to upset a powerful group even if he thought they were in the wrong? Of course not! And I'd do just the same in his position.

Huddlestons and Tutus and Bells are in short supply. I'm not one. But it means that episcopal noises (or lack of noises) have to be seen in a larger context than the issue to hand. +Liverpool CANNOT be a guarantor of probity at Wycliffe because he is not a free agent.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 6 October 2007 at 9:47pm BST

mynster - maybe the brave clerics standing up for truth against corrupt institutions today are +Duncan and Dr Radner and Canon Harmon et al?

Posted by: NP on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 12:39pm BST

How we need JC Ryle in this dire situation.

He was one occupant of the See of Liverpool, who not afraid to knock heads together !


Now, HE really was an Evangelical !

I am a spiritual descendant of his, on one side. AND being informed by him, inspired means that, in today's changed world, the message has not stood still, either ! He wanted no parrots in his wake !

His was a radical inner vision of faith ...

I like to think he'd understand my own radical stance on gay-lib ....


Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 1:43pm BST

+Liverpool could always resign - which is what happened in the college I was part of 30 years ago. There seem to be quite a few Area Bishops in Oxford diocese who have a connection with WH, and could step into his shoes.

The "looking for a spine" comment is an old chestnut: I first heard it from Jeremy Thorpe in an Oxford Union debate c.1963, when it referred to the then Tory front bench. IIRC his opponent was the then Tory MP for Wimbledon, who held high office in the Evangelical Alliance, and was rooting for the expulsion of commonwealth (ie black) immigrants. JT tore the poor man to shreds.

Posted by: cryptogram on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 4:11pm BST

L Roberts - I am sure you would like to think you had faithful JCR on your side.....any evidence to show he ever preached it is fine ignore scriptures which condemn particular sins?

Pls do read JCR's "Holiness" again - it is because of this sort of writing that I am not able to accept the view that God is somehow less worried about holiness in certain spheres (only) today

Posted by: NP on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 4:31pm BST

NP
"mynster - maybe the brave clerics standing up for truth against corrupt institutions today are +Duncan and Dr Radner and Canon Harmon et al?"

You really shouldn't crack jokes like that, this is a serious site!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 October 2007 at 5:04pm BST

seriously, Erika....Harmon, Radner and Duncan are calling their church back to the bible, back to God's word.......they remind me of Elijah calling the leadership of Israel back from sinful drifting away from God

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 10:14am BST

To plenty of others, NP, they sound more like Zedekiah ben Chenaanah urging an unholy and unblessed conflict.

Posted by: cryptogram on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 11:32am BST

"back to the bible,"

1. The Bible is not God

2. The Bible is not the Gospel.

3. The Church never left the Bible.

4. You can no more construct Christianity out of the Bible than you can build a PC from it's user's manual.

You are proof of the dangers of failing to realize these basic truths.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 4:00pm BST

Ford says "The Church never left the Bible."

- you talk of "The Church"....... now, is that TEC (USA) which is seriously out of line with most of the AC (let alone most protestants and Catholics in the US as well as the rest of the world?

- or is it The Church which TEC is defying and trying to deceive with ambiguous statements and weak promises.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 4:52pm BST

NP,
Meaningless question. How can the Church have "left" the Bible, whatever that is supposed to mean, when She is grappling with its teachings, trying to live by the "Spirit of the Law" which Her Lord's command for Her? Claiming that because many in TEC disgree with you, they therefor have no faith at all, that selling the lie that there is some horrid nest of pagans trying to destroy the Church and is oppressing the few faithful left there, that defending horrid betrayals of the Gospel just because they are done by someone who demands the degree of legalism you are comfortable with, indeed, demanding that kind of legalism at all, these are abandonments of Scripture, NP, as sure as anything done by TEC. Now, tell me two wrongs don't make a right, just to prove how utterly you don't understand my point.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 7:46pm BST

Dear Ford.
I think this analysis shows just how TEC(USA) has in certain important ways left the bible as it defies agree Anglican positions.
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=238

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 10 October 2007 at 9:08am BST

Ford - I thought you would appreciate this

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=223


Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 10 October 2007 at 9:34am BST

Hi Ford-

There are two mistakes in your position:

(1) assuming that no portions of Scripture can be easy to interpret, whereas in fact Scripture is such a huge library that it is bound to contain (among much else) thousands of things that are dead easy to interpret, in addition to having had more man-hours already devoted to helping us in its interpretation than any other book/library.

(2) assuming that the spirit and letter of the law will give you vastly different conclusions. The 'letter' is subservient to the 'spirit', but you want it to be actually opposed to it, leaving us with no clue concerning why anyone bothered to write the 'letter' in the first place. It almost becomes a ground rule that the bible never means what it says.

Why, in this fundamentalist fashion, are you treating the bible differently from how you treat other books? When it comes to most books, they (for the most part) mean what they say, and their difficulty or ease of interpretation follows a standard deviation curve.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 10 October 2007 at 1:58pm BST

"assuming that the spirit and letter of the law will give you vastly different conclusions. The 'letter' is subservient to the 'spirit', but you want it to be actually opposed to it, leaving us with no clue concerning why anyone bothered to write the 'letter' in the first place. It almost becomes a ground rule that the bible never means what it says."

Now that's a vast overreaction. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is illustrative here. The Jews who passed the beaten by man did so so as to not defile themselves before the Sabbath. They were more concerned with maintaining their ritual purity than they were with helping the injured man. They chose the letter of the law and Jesus rightly criticized them for it.

Lots of time the letter of the law and the spirit of the law coincide. Those cases are not of interest for the discussion. It is when they *do* conflict that we have to choose. And it seems an inescapable conclusion that some people routinely choose the law over the person.

Posted by: ruidh on Wednesday, 10 October 2007 at 4:32pm BST

ok ruidh - funnily enough, it is mainly people with vested interests, seeking to justify certain sins who see the Spirit and the law conflicting in the presenting issues..... you sure the Spirit is not calling people to repentance in the light of the scriptures?

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 8:52am BST

Christopher,
I make no such assumptions. Much of Scripture is dead easy to interpret. Like for instance, "Thou shalt not kill". Yet, the Church seems to have decided this is quite unclear, at least when the State want us to kill one or many. And "This is my Body, this is My Blood" also seem pretty clear, yet they are the only statements of Scripture that fundamentalists do NOT take literally! How odd! I also do not wish to oppose the spirit of the Law to the letter of the Law, neither do I assume that they will always be in disagreement. Either I have not been clear, or you are deliberately misunderstanding for the sake of argument. To say that the letter of the Law might conflict with the spirit of the Law in certain circumstances is NOT to say that it is the basic assumption, neither have I ever said so. I apologize if I gave the wrong impression.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 2:42pm BST

The danger is that we will take the spirit of the law to be opposed to the letter on those very occasions when we *want* it to be so, for our own reasons.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 15 October 2007 at 12:42pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.