Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Brazilian court rules against Recife breakaway diocese

The News Service of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil reports:

Court Orders Return of Churches to the Anglican Diocese of Recife / Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil”

After a long judicial battle that lasted for a decade, a Brazilian judge has this month finally decided that the actions taken by Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti in creating of the Diocese of Recife – DR, flagrantly violated Brazilian law as well as Canon law, the Doctrine & Discipline of the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil (IEAB), resulting in the suspension/demotion, and eventual dismissal of Bishop Robinson from his episcopal authority & legal legitimacy for such actions.

With the sentence, it was decreed that all the actions taken by Bishop Robinson were nullified, and all would be returned to the Anglican Diocese of Recife (DAR), including property, administration & all goods and rights which were illegally usurped, including amongst them five churches with all of their belongings. From now on, all of these parishes are under the direction and supervision of Diocesan Bishop Sebastião Armando…

For some background to this, a Thinking Anglicans report from 2005 may be helpful: Recife: a clarification.

Many of the links from that report are now broken, but the article from the Living Church is still available from the web archive Southern Cone Primate Annexes Brazilian Diocese.

There is also this 2005 report from the Church Times Venables takes Brazilian diocese under his wing. The current issue also has a news report, but this is only available to subscribers.

Anglican Ink has this report by George Conger: Recife loses court battle over church property to the IEAB.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 7:43am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Church of England and payday lenders - update

I reported on this on Friday here, and there are two links to articles in yesterday’s opinion.

Press reports have referred to the Church of England’s “pension fund”. There are in fact two clergy pensions funds. For service prior to 1998 clergy pensions are paid by the Church Commissioners from their assets. More recent service is financed by the Church of England Pensions Board. It may not be clear from many of the press reports, but the indirect investment in Wonga is held by the Church Commissioners, and not by the Pensions Board. Both bodies take advice from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Channel 4 News has this helpful FactCheck: What else does the Church of England invest in?.

Many more articles have appeared in the last couple of days. Here are some.

The Guardian
Rupert Neate Justin Welby says Wonga revelations will not divert him
William Taylor The church must be an activist: fight for the poor and expose the corrupt
Marina Hyde I’ve got a crush on the archbishop of Canterbury

The Telegraph
Cole Moreton Justin Welby’s Wonga revelation
Jenny McCartney Archbishop Justin Welby is on the money over Wonga

Financial Times
Sharlene Goff and Brooke Masters Archbishop orders inquiry into Wonga funding

The Independent
Editorial Payday lenders? The Church should keep to matters spiritual
Simon Read Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby rows back on war on Wonga: ‘Loan sharks are worse’
Ian Birrell Politics and religion do mix well after all

BBC Radio 4
There was a discussion on ethical investments in this morning’s Sunday programme, starting at 38 minutes.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 6:19pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 27 July 2013

opinion

Nick Baines writes on his blog about Same world, different worlds.

Yesterday I linked to Sam Macrory’s interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury for Total Politics: Archbishop’s Move: Can Welby restore faith in the church?. But it wasn’t just about payday lenders; do read it all.

Ian Ellis of the Church of Ireland Gazette interviewed Bishop Nigel Stock on the subject of Women in the Episcopate legislation, during the July 2013 York meeting of the Church of England General Synod.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Welby, Wonga and the moral dilemma of financial investments.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian: Thank God we have an archbishop who views Wonga’s loans as modern slavery.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 26 July 2013

Church of England and payday lenders

Updated Friday evening

Sam Macrory has interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury for Total Politics: Archbishop’s Move: Can Welby restore faith in the church?. This long article includes this:

A plan for the church to develop credit unions has been floated, with Welby proud that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is” in developing an alternative to payday money-lenders. The plan, he says, is to create “credit unions that are both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.”

It will, he adds, be a “decade-long process”, but Welby is ready for the battle with the payday giants. “I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.” He flashes that smile again. “He’s a businessman; he took that well.”

This prompted articles in the press, such as these:

Madeleine Davies Church Times Watch out, Wonga, warns Welby
Andrew Grice The Independent War on Wonga: We’re putting you out of business, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tells payday loans company
Miles Brignall The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury wants to ‘compete’ Wonga out of existence
Sam Marsden The Telegraph Archbishop warns Wonga that Church wants to force it out of business
Nick Moody New Statesman Welby’s war on Wonga
The Telegraph Church of England: People are not aware of credit unions
The Independent Video: Church of England’s war on Wonga

But then some embarrassing news broke:

Sharlene Goff and Brooke Masters Financial Times Church of England invests in Wonga backer
Rupert Neate, Miles Brignall and Rupert Jones The Guardian Church of England holds stake in Wonga financial backer
Hayley Dixon The Telegraph Church of England pension fund linked to Wonga

The Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed by John Humphreys on BBC Radio 4 this morning: Church of England ‘must be consistent’. [duration 16:17]

Papers are already reporting on this interview:

Peter Walker The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury embarrassed about church’s financial link to Wonga
Adam Withnall and Ian Burrell The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury confesses: Church’s Wonga investments are “very embarrassing”

There is also this short BBC News interview: Wonga row: Archbishop of Canterbury ‘embarrassed’ over Church funds.
The Telegraph has Archbishop of Canterbury Just Welby promises investigation into Wonga investment.

Update
Madeleine Davies sums it all up for the Church Times: Church investments undermine Welby’s tilt at Wonga.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 11:09am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 25 July 2013

WATCH responds to Steering Committee membership

Women and the Church (WATCH) issued this statement today.

Response to the announcement of the membership of the Steering Committee Appointments Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The prompt formation of the Steering Committee, demonstrating the Church of England’s determination to proceed with its commitment to opening the episcopate to women, is welcomed by WATCH.

We are glad to receive information on the committee’s makeup, particularly the inclusion of experienced, respected women, lay and ordained, in the discussions. We note the strong presence of those representing groups opposed to the episcopal ministry of women and requesting provision and hope that presence of the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation will enable the different groups to work together to produce constructive legislation.

We look forward to seeing legislation produced that will:

  • honour and uphold both the content and spirit of Option One, which received strong support from General Synod in July
  • reflect the House of Bishops unequivocal support for women within all three orders of ministry.
  • enable women to flourish in all ministries to which God calls them; lay, ordained and episcopal, on equality with men, reflecting the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.
Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 10:00am BST | Comments (102) | TrackBack
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General Synod miscellaneous

The following are now available.

The official summary of the business transacted at the Synod: Business Done.

Electronic voting lists

I have already published details of the voting on women in the episcopate. Also available are the voting lists for the debates on Safeguarding and Welfare Reform. The vote on the Welfare Reform debate shows one vote against. I have confirmed that this was a mistake. The person concerned pressed the wrong button and was unable to correct this error before the voting period (one minute) came to an end.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:51am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - electronic voting results

Updated

Electronic voting results for this month’s General Synod debate on the women bishops legislation have now been published. These take the form of pdf files, arranged by houses (in two cases), by vote (for/against/abstain) and then alphabetically.

I list below the four items voted on electronically, and the voting figures in each case. At the end I link to my consolidated version of the four votes arranged by synod number.

Item 39 (The Revd Paul Benfield amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priest or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to make statutory provision for opponents. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 39 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops7340
Clergy481374
Laity751154

Item 42 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

The effect of this amendment would have been to include in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure. It was defeated in a vote by houses.

item 42 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops10281
Clergy551288
Laity931004

Item 46 (The Ven. Clive Mansell amendment)

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest -in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

This amendment was defeated on a division of the whole Synod (200 in favour, 210 against and 15 recorded abstentions). But I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 46 ForAgainstabstain
Bishops15232
Clergy87984
Laity98899

The final vote was on the substantive motion: Item 16 (as amended by items 45 and 47). The two successful amendments were each carried on a show of hands. They added the references to a grievance procedure, and to the use of facilitated conversations.

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

This was carried on a division of the whole Synod (319 in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions). Again I have divided the voting list up by houses as follows.

item 16ForAgainstabstain
Bishops3721
Clergy154278
Laity1285513

Spreadsheet of votes [Updated Friday night to correct totals for House of Bishops]

For convenience I have put the results into a spreadsheet arranged by synod number (which brings members together by diocese) for each house and added absentees and vacancies. For this purpose an “absentee” is someone who did not record an electronic vote (for/against/abstention). There are various reasons for being an absentee.

Update 1: There is also this webpage version of my spreadsheet.

Update 2: For convenience I have extracted below the voting records for the members of the Steering Committee.

surname house item 39item 42item 46item 16
BenfieldPaulclergy67ForForForAgainst
CharmanJaneclergy203AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
CottonRobertclergy125AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
GiddingsPhiliplaity367ForForForFor
GooderPaulalaity249AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
HardmanChristineclergy214AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
HarrisonJamielaity301AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
LangstaffJamesbishops34AgainstAgainstabstainFor
LeafeSusannahlaity416ForForForAgainst
MallettRosemarieclergy216AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
SwinsonMargaretlaity341AgainstAgainstForFor
ThomasRoderickclergy120ForForForAgainst
WarnerMartinbishops14ForForForAgainst
WillmottTrevorbishops45AgainstAgainstAgainstFor
WinterDagmarclergy168ForAgainstAgainstFor
Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 7:50pm BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 22 July 2013

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The membership of the Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation for the Church of England General Synod has just been announced.

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation
22 July 2013

The Appointments Committee of General Synod has announced the membership of the Steering Committee to take charge of the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee will meet a number of times in September and October to prepare the draft legislation for consideration at the November meeting of the Synod . The size and membership of the Committee will be reviewed by the Appointments Committee after this initial phase of work.

As outlined at this month’s Synod in York the size of the newly formed Steering Committee reflects the suggestion from the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, urging “facilitated discussions” to continue. Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of reconciliation, who guided the facilitated discussions at Synod, helped advise the appointments committee.

Steering Committee members
The Revd Paul Benfield
The Revd Canon Jane Charman
The Revd Canon Robert Cotton
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
The Ven Christine Hardman
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)
Mrs Susannah Leafe
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Canon Margaret Swinson
The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas
The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott
The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 3:40pm BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Archbishop Announces Independent Inquiry

From the Archbishop of York’s website.

Archbishop Announces Independent Inquiry
Monday 22nd July 2013

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has today announced the appointment of Her Honour Judge Sally Cahill QC to be Chair of an independent Inquiry into the Church’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester.

Follow the link for full details.

This relates to our report in May: C of E accused of cover-up over child abuse.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 11:52am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Church of England's search for salvation

Robert McCrum writes in The Observer today about The Church of England’s search for salvation. “The Church of England is in crisis. Its position on women bishops and gay marriage has alienated much of society. Robert McCrum visits its parishes and asks if the future lies with those it has spurned.”

To accompany the article, photographer Karen Robinson presents The Church of England today - in pictures.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 1:44pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Sentamu calls for living wage

The Archbishop of York has published this article in The Observer today: John Sentamu: the scandal of the millions not paid enough to live on. The article is also available on the Archbishop’s website.

Also in The Observer are these two articles by its political editor Toby Helm.
‘The scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal,’ says Sentamu
Welcome to York, the city that wants to launch a living wage

Daniel Johnson reports on the Archbishop’s article for The Telegraph: Archbishop of York calls for living wage to tackle ‘national scandal’ of low pay.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 21 July 2013 at 12:33pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 20 July 2013

The London Plan

From the Diocese of London website:

THE LONDON PLAN

The ‘London Plan’ is a declaration made by the Bishop of London, all the Area Bishops and the Bishop of Fulham. It relates to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 and the Code of Practice 1994.

The London Plan sets out how certain parts of the Bishop of London’s authority - such as to ordain and license clergy - may be delegated to the other bishops of the Diocese of London.

Crucially it allows parochial church councils to petition the Bishop of London to allow pastoral care for that parish to be exercised by a bishop other than the Area Bishop, usually the Bishop of Fulham.

The plan is available for download: The London Plan.

This is a revised version of the Plan and is dated 1 July 2013.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 11:54am BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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opinion

Sarah Greeks writes for Humane Pursuits: Half-time Huddle: Why I Lack Enthusiasm for the Church. She has 22 reasons.

Frank Brennan (an Australian Jesuit) writes for Eureka Street that It’s time to recognise secular same sex marriage.

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks What is Christianity for anyway?

Nelson Jones asks in the New Statesman Does it matter that young people in Britain aren’t religious?

Michael Jensen presents an insider’s view for ABC Religion and Ethics: The church and the world: The politics of Sydney Anglicanism.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 19 July 2013

Women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion

YES 2 Women Bishops has published this useful Infographic: women bishops in the Anglican Communion showing the status of women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion.

They have also published a summary of what General Synod did last week, Synod’s resolve, and these thoughts on where we are now.

So where does this all leave us? A few thoughts:

1. It seems premature for anyone to try to decide whether this form of legislation is acceptable or not. Whilst on the face of it, the proposal seems to be closer to what supporters of women bishops wanted and further from what opponents wanted, the reality of how this works will be in the Act of Synod or House of Bishops declaration which will set out the provisions for those opposed. There is a bit of a phoney war already underway with opponents of women bishops claiming that only provisions set out in the face of the legislation are adequate. In truth they already operate very happily under an Act of Synod which is detested by women clergy. This would imply that this form of provision is perfectly acceptable in other areas for those who cannot accept women bishops. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that any new Act of Synod provides precisely the provisions that opponents are looking for and is problematic for supporters of women bishops, so we really don’t yet know what the final package will look like. There is still a lot of work to do.

2. The synodical arithmetic has clearly not changed in any significant way - opponents remain opposed and supporters remain supportive. If it were put to another final vote today, requiring a two thirds majority in each house, it looks like it would still fail. For this reason, the legislative timetable is intriguing. In theory the final vote could come in the last sitting of the current synod, before elections are held and a new synod is formed. It seems implausible that a final vote will be held in the current synod session if it looks like the blocking minority remains opposed to the legislation in the run up to the final vote. Instead, the final vote will be shunted into the next Synod session when a new group have been elected, in the hope that the blocking minority is removed. Such a tactic is high risk, as there is no guarantee that this would be the outcome of synod elections. This means that unless some hearts and minds are won over in the next 12-18 months, synod elections will be dominated by this issue as each “side” seeks to get more of their number into general synod.

3. We’re back on our way. We must remain hopeful that Synod will succeed this time. The resolution passed last week is strong and positive, and so must we be. We must give thanks to those who have worked to make this happen, and resolve to pray and support them in the months and years ahead until we finally see the day when Christian women are able to fulfill their divine calling and serve as bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 July 2013 at 3:32pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Marriage Bill gets Royal Assent: some reactions

Updated

As noted in the Comments below, the text of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is now available online here.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales issued this statement: Statement on on the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act

…The new Act breaks the existing legal links between the institution of marriage and sexual complementarity. With this new legislation, marriage has now become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility on fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central. That is why we were opposed to this legislation on principle.

Along with others, we have expressed real concern about the deficiencies in the process by which this legislation came to Parliament, and the speed with which it has been rushed through. We are grateful particularly therefore to those Parliamentarians in both Houses who have sought to improve the Bill during its passage, so that it enshrines more effective protection for religious freedom.

A particular concern for us has also been the lack of effective protection for Churches which decide not to opt-in to conducting same sex marriages. Amendments made in the House of Lords though have significantly strengthened the legal protections in the Act for the Churches. We also welcome the Government’s amendment to the Public Order Act which makes it clear beyond doubt that “discussion or criticism of marriage which concerns the sex of the parties to the marriage shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred”. Individuals are therefore protected from criminal sanction under the Public Order Act when discussing or expressing disagreement with same sex marriage.

In other respects, however, the amendments we suggested have not been accepted. We were concerned to provide legislative clarity for schools with a religious character. This was in order to ensure that these schools will be able to continue to teach in accordance with their religious tenets. Given the potential risk that future guidance given by a Secretary of State for education regarding sex and relationships education could now conflict with Church teaching on marriage, we were disappointed that an amendment to provide this clarity was not accepted. The Minister made clear in the House of Lords, however, that in “having regard” to such guidance now or in the future schools with a religious character can “take into account other matters, including in particular relevant religious tenets”, and that “having regard to a provision does not mean that it must be followed assiduously should there be good reason for not doing so”. These assurances go some way to meeting the concerns we and others expressed…

Christian Concern has issued this: Challenge issued to Archbishop over Lords vote on same sex marriage

…Mrs Minichiello Williams said in her letter: “I am surprised that the Church of England appears to be vacating the public square when it comes to the issue of marriage. Given the rich teaching of Scripture and strong tradition of marriage, this is something that the CofE should be able to comment on clearly, intelligently and winsomely.
“Marriage is something to be celebrated, promoted and, at this time, preserved. At a time when the nation needs to hear a prophetic voice on marriage, the CofE’s message is sadly mixed and, as a result, unclear.”

Second Reading vote

A Church of England official replied on behalf of the Archbishop, in which he argued that the vote on the Bill at Second Reading had a detrimental effect on the chances of securing subsequent amendments to the Bill.

Lord Dear introduced a ‘wrecking amendment’ at Second Reading which, had it been successful, would have derailed the Bill.

The Church official said in his letter that this move went against House of Lords tradition and protocol and therefore was a serious misjudgement.

Precedent

But in her reply, Mrs Minichiello Williams referred to the clear precedent for voting at Second Reading as a means of voting on the principle of a Bill. She said: “It was very disappointing that the Archbishop himself said in the Second Reading debate that he was against the vote on Second Reading. In the event, of course, the Archbishop himself voted against the Bill, but his statement could well have dissuaded peers from voting with Lord Dear…

Media reports:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 at 6:53pm BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Cathedral admission charges

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, recently gave this written answer in the House of Commons to a question on the cost to visitors of accessing religious buildings.

Religious Buildings: Fees and Charges

Dr Offord: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the cost to visitors of accessing religious buildings. [163105]

Sir Tony Baldry: Of the 42 Dioceses in England (excluding Sodor and Man and Europe) only nine cathedrals charge an entry fee. Chester Cathedral has just abolished all entry charges. Unlike the national museums none of the Church of England’s cathedral or church buildings receive grant in aid from the Government.

All cathedrals which charge for entry give free access to those attending services (of which there are a number every day of the week), to those who arrive on pilgrimage or wish to pray, some give free entry on Sundays and at other times, generally early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and others give free entry to local residents or church attenders in their Dioceses.

Only two of the great parish churches charge entry fees or a modest charge to enter part of the church. They are St Bartholomew’s the Great in London Diocese and Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon in Coventry diocese the resting place of William Shakespeare.

Both the churches and cathedrals resort to charging primarily to recover the cost of repairing the fabric of the building due to the large volume of tourist visitors they receive.

The English Cathedrals and Royal Peculiars that currently charge for entry as of June 2013:

Canterbury
Coventry
Ely
Exeter
Lincoln
Christ Church, Oxford (to enter college)
St George’s Chapel, Windsor (to enter castle)(1)
St Paul’s
Westminster Abbey(1)
Winchester
York Minster

(1) Royal Peculiar

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 8:29pm BST | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Women Bishops: Catholic Group in General Synod responds

The Catholic Group in General Synod issued a statement last week after the General Synod debate on Women in the Episcopate. It is not yet available on the Group’s website, but we have been given this copy.

Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod

We welcome the clear commitment of General Synod to make provision for all in the Church of England.

We are fully supportive of a new kind of legislative process involving facilitated conversations as outlined by the Bishop of Willesden and endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and most members of Synod.

It is clear, from the voting on a number of the amendments, that the amended Option 1 will need a considerable amount of further work in order to build a sufficient consensus for when it comes to the Synod for Final Approval in 2015.

Martin Dales on behalf of the Group

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 8:06pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Reactions to the passage of the Marriage Bill by the House of Lords

The Quakers have issued this press release: Quakers greet Lords’ support for equal marriage.

The Unitarians issued Unitarians welcome further step forward for Same Sex Marriage.

The Evangelical Alliance published Christians must model real marriage to society

The Christian Institute sent this email to its mailing list: Deeply disappointed, but utterly resolved to keep proclaiming the truth. And later it published Wrecking marriage will ‘come back to bite’ PM.

The Campaign For Marriage issued this: Party machines push Bill through.

Christian Concern has issued this: Peers approve same sex marriage bill.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 7:07pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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House of Commons considers Marriage bill amendments

The House of Commons will shortly consider the amendments made to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by the House of Lords.

Several documents have been published:

A list of all the amendments made by the Lords.

David Burrowes MP has proposed an amendment to one of those made in the Lords.

The House of Commons Library has published an analysis of the Lords amendments which can be found linked from this page.

The amendments have been marshalled for the Commons debate in this manner.

Two hours have been allowed for the debate which will start around 7.45 pm or so.

Update
The House of Commons voted to accept all the amendments, by voice vote.

The Hansard record starts here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 at 2:45pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Monday, 15 July 2013

Nigerian Anglican Primate supports capital punishment

As background to the following news reports, here is an Opinion article from the Nigerian website Leadership entitled Much Ado About The Return Of Death Penalty.

The return of death penalty in the country after a seven-year moratorium has been on the front burner of public discussion, while the trend has been heavily criticised by organisations in defence of human rights, many people believe it is a step in the right direction. Uche Uduma samples the opinions of Nigerians on the issue.

In a bid to tackle the problem of prison congestion in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan recently called on the 36 state governors to sign death warrants to facilitate the immediate execution of the over 900 death row inmates in prisons spread across the country.

Following the directive by the President, the Edo state Governor Adams Oshomole, signed the death warrants of four convicted prisoners in the state prison. The recent execution of four convicts in Benin put an end to a seven-year moratorium on death penalty in the country. The execution of a fifth condemned inmate, who was to be executed by firing squad was not carried out because the prison where the convict was incarcerated does not have facilities to carry out such execution.

Since 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it. In line with this, about 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it. The return of death penalty in Nigeria has obviously put a strain on the campaign by United Nations to eliminate death penalty as a form of punishment. However, other states in Nigeria are making steps to hand down more death penalties.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, at the official opening of the 5th World Conference against the death penalty last week implored political leaders in countries that still have such laws in their justice systems across the world to abolish it. He pointed that the campaign to eliminate the death penalty as a form of punishment has mainly faced resistance from political leaders…

Now here are several reports about the Anglican Primate’s contribution to this debate.

Capital Punishment: Primate berates Amnesty International

ABUJA PRIMATE, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh has berated Amnesty International (AI) for condemning Edo State government over the recent execution of death sentence on four inmates in Benin.

The primate who urged the Federal Government not to allow itself to be gagged by anybody, also called for the imposition of capital punishment on perpetrators of crimes, including rape and killing.

In June, after their death warrants were signed by the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the inmates — Osaremwinda Aigbuohian and Daniel Nsofor — whose lawyers have been struggling to obtain a stay of execution on the death sentence; and two other convicts whose identities are yet to be ascertained were hanged in Benin, the action that generated criticism by both local and international bodies…

The Daily Post reports Capital punishment: Those who rape and kill must be killed – Primate of Anglican Church.

Primate of the Church of Nigeria,Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has joined in the bashing of those opposed to capital punishment in the country, saying they are ill-informed.

The Influential religious leader was reacting to the objection of foreign countries and international bodies on the recent execution of four inmates in Benin, Edo state.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and European Union, among others had opposed the action of the state government…

This Day via allAfrica.com Nigeria: Capital Punishment - Don’t Be Gagged, Anglican Primate Tells FG

The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Tuesday, decried the condemnations that trailed the execution of four condemned prisoners in Benin City by the Edo State Government, urging the federal government not to allow itself to be gagged by anybody.

Reacting to questions at a press conference in Abuja, the Primate noted that Amnesty International had no justification to criticise the government’s action, as they were neither directly nor indirectly affected by the action of the inmates.

He warned that the federal government should not allow anybody or organisation to teach it what morality is all about, insisting that, “the law on capital punishment for those who rightly deserve it should be enforced…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 July 2013 at 4:27pm BST | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 13 July 2013

opinion

Charles Moore writes in The Telegraph Archbishop Justin Welby: ‘I was embarrassed. It was like getting measles’. “Forty years ago, Justin Welby was an unhappy pupil at Eton. Now, a relaxed Archbishop of Canterbury, he relives his unsettling moment of conversion and his wounded past.”

Ben Summerskill is interviewed by the Catholic Herald ‘We don’t think religion is evil or wicked’.

In the Church Times Church interns: a new injustice. “Young volunteers are being exploited by congregations, writes an intern.”

Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books Popes Making Popes Saints

Isabel Harman in The Telegraph The Archbishop of Canterbury must wean the Church off its benefit addiction. “Justin Welby understands that welfare benefits do not fix everything. Now he needs to educate the Church of England.”

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian that The real power of the church lies not in its prince bishops but its congregations. “Faith groups are ideally placed to drive community organising, but they must be prepared to make trouble.”

John Milbank wrties in The Guardian that The church offers a holistic solution to child poverty. “This dire situation has to be addressed through the social dimension, not through top-down, impersonal tinkering.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 July 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Third Reading for Marriage Bill in House of Lords

Updated yet again Tuesday afternoon

The Third Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords is scheduled for Monday 15 July.

The five new amendments marshalled for consideration are related to the issue of pension equalisation, and all have government approval.

See the marshalled list.

The bill as amended so far is now reprinted and available as a PDF File here.

David Pocklington has provided an analysis of the numerous amendments that have been approved.

Updates
The bill has now passed at Third Reading in the House of Lords. Because of some amendments made during its passage in that house, it now returns to the House of Commons. Further action there is likely tomorrow or Wednesday.

The Hansard record of this debate starts here. PDF for the day here.

Intervention by the Bishop of Norwich here. Full text below the fold.

Media reports:

David Pocklington has again provided a detailed analysis of Monday’s proceedings.

The Bishop of Norwich:

My Lords, I support this group of amendments. A review of the benefits accruing to all survivors under occupational pension schemes is both desirable and necessary. The principle of equity under the law for those whom the law holds to have the same status in relation to the deceased is a sound one. Hard-pressed pension schemes must be tempted to limit benefits, and the complexity of some schemes may hide inequity, so this principle is clear and just and I support it. Indeed, the Church of England pension scheme already treats surviving civil partners in precisely the same way as widows and widowers.

There is a wider reason for supporting these amendments. It is no secret that the majority of Christian churches and other world faiths do not believe that same-sex marriage accords with their understanding of marriage itself. However, many of us, including on these Benches, welcome the social and legal recognition of same-sex partnerships and believe that our society is a better and healthier one for such recognition. That is why I support this group of amendments. This point has sometimes been obscured in public commentary on what has been taking place here, but not in the debates in your Lordships’ House. The courtesy and clarity with which your Lordships have listened to each other represent our very best traditions, and I echo all that has already been said in this brief debate.

I, too, thank the Minister for her work and the Government for accommodating the needs of the Church of England and other faith traditions, and for wanting to do so. That has also been a characteristic of this House as the Bill has been debated. While the Bill is necessarily complex as a result of meeting many needs—and we are making it a bit more complex again—it will serve very well both its supporters and those who are still unconvinced about it, and that is a signal achievement.

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Friday, 12 July 2013

Another B&B case heads for the Supreme Court

Updated again 28 July

Another Bed and Breakfast owner, Susanne Wilkinson, has lost her case at the Court of Appeal, but has been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, where her case will be joined with that of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, and heard on 9 October.

Media reports:

Telegraph Christian B&B owner ordered to compensate gay couple takes fight to Supreme Court

Guardian B&B owner who turned away gay couple loses appeal

BBC B&B owner who turned away gay couple loses appeal

The full text of the judgment can be found here, or as a PDF file over here.

The earlier court hearing was discussed last October on the UK Human Rights Blog by Alasdair Henderson in The thorny issue of religious belief and discrimination law (again).

Updates

Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has a detailed discussion of the new judgment, in Gay couples, B&B and human rights again: Black & Anor v Wilkinson.

Alasdair Henderson at the UK Human Rights Blog has Second Christian B&B case headed for the Supreme Court

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interim bishop for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

It has been announced that the Bishop of Huntingdon (a suffragan see in the diocese of Ely), the Rt Revd David Thomson, is to be the ‘interim bishop’ for the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. The See will be vacant as a result of Bishop Nigel Stock’s appointment to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff as bishop at Lambeth. Bishop David’s appointment will take effect in October 2013 and will continue until a new diocesan bishop is selected.

An announcement from the diocese of Ely quotes Bishop David as saying, ‘It’s a great privilege to be asked to work as a shepherd for Christ’s people in the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich as they wait for a new diocesan bishop. I pray that I will be able to help them to continue to grow in faith, deepen in discipleship, and share richly the good things God has given us with the communities we serve.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, said, ‘I am delighted to have commissioned Dr David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, to care for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich during the period until a new diocesan bishop is chosen and arrives. Bishop David combines the gifts of a bishop with long experience as a parish priest and archdeacon.’

The announcement from the diocese of Ely appears below the fold.

The Announcement from Stephen Conway, the Bishop of Ely reads in full:

Bishop of Huntingdon appointed to Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich

Bishop David has been appointed interim bishop for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, following the appointment of the Rt Revd Nigel Stock as Bishop at Lambeth. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has invited Bishop David to serve in Suffolk until a permanent bishop is selected.

Bishop David will take up his new role at the beginning of October and step aside from most of his duties in the Ely diocese during the secondment, but will keep up his personal work in public engagement and historical projects and continue to serve as Vice-chair of the National Society.

I am delighted and honoured that the Archbishop has invited Bishop David to care for our neighbouring Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich during its forthcoming vacancy. He will be a wise and trusted bishop next door as he is among us. We shall miss him; but we know that we shall get him back in a year or so.

He and I will continue to support one another, and David will continue to participate in our senior staff residential meetings. As he enters the lively story of life and mission in Suffolk, he will still be part of our story under God, too. David will continue to be the Bishop of Huntingdon and I understand that Bishop Nigel will make me an assistant bishop in Edmundsbury & Ipswich, so that David and I can actively help one another.

Bishop David will remain in office as Bishop of Huntingdon and he and his wife Jean will continue to live in Ely, but will have use of a flat in the Bishop’s House at Ipswich, from which David will also work. His office in Ely will remain open to support the work of the Warden of Readers and to facilitate future diary planning.

While Bishop David is immersed in Suffolk, I shall have access to some money from the episcopal budget which I intend to invest in advancing our clergy wellbeing initiative. My diary will alter to ensure that pastoral access to a bishop will not diminish and I shall be adding to our company of assistant bishops in the diocese.

Please pray for David and for Jean, and thank God for our partnership in the gospel with our fellow Anglicans across the region. Please also pray for Bishop Nigel and for Carolyne as they prepare for their move to Lambeth Palace. I have always been a keen supporter of the importance of having a bishop at Lambeth. I am delighted that we can contribute to making it possible.”

Speaking about his appointment Bishop David said: “It’s a great privilege to be asked to work as a shepherd for Christ’s people in the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich as they wait for a new diocesan bishop. I pray that I will be able to help them to continue to grow in faith, deepen in discipleship, and share richly the good things God has given us with the communities we serve.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, said: : “I am delighted to have commissioned Dr David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, to care for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich during the period until a new diocesan bishop is chosen and arrives. Bishop David combines the gifts of a bishop with long experience as a parish priest and archdeacon.”

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 12 July 2013 at 4:06pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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General Synod summaries

The CofE has published two summaries of the recent Synod.

First is a two-sided A3 illustrated version: In Review.

Second is an A5 insert for parish magazines, without illustrations but with a slightly fuller text: In Focus.

Both of the above are pdf files ready for printing, but the text of the magazine insert is also available as an rtf file.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 12 July 2013 at 2:40pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Friday roundup

Here are some reflections and comments on what happened at General Synod.

Nick Baines (Bishop of Bradford) Mixed feelings

Andrew Carey The ghastly Indabas return

Colin Coward A health report on the C of E following the York Synod

Steven Croft (Bishop of Sheffield) Three processes in one: today’s Synod debate on Bishops

Jeremy Fletcher General Synod July 2013 – Jeremy’s Report

Giles Fraser General Synod brings out the worst in the Church of England – and in me

Jody Stowell Women bishops: Building bridges to avoid repeating history

Chris Sugden Update to AAC from Canon Chris Sugden

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Starting again on women bishops

Lichfield Diocese’s reps reflect on General Synod

Church Times leader Has the Synod shifted at all?

There are also a few more press reports.

Today’s Church Times has revised versions of two reports published immediately after the Synod debates:
Ed Thornton, Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Glyn Paflin Synod makes a new start on women bishops in York
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Synod approves new West Yorkshire diocese

The Living Church Synod Slogs through in York

Amaris Cole in The Church of England Newspaper Women bishops back on track

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 12 July 2013 at 10:12am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Same sex couple banned from a church in Exeter

Updated Friday lunchtime

The following exchange occurred on 4 July in the House of Commons, when the Second Church Estates Commissioner was answering Questions:

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter, Labour)
What guidance the Church of England plans to issue to parishes and Church schools on pastoral care for same sex couples and their children.

Tony Baldry (Second Church Estates Commissioner; Banbury, Conservative)
The House of Bishops issued a pastoral statement before the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force in 2005. I expect that the House of Bishops will want to issue a further statement before the legislation on same-sex marriage comes into force. The House of Bishops is due to consider this December a report on sexuality, chaired by former permanent secretary Sir Joseph Pilling. The work of that group will assist the House of Bishops in its deliberations.

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter, Labour)
I am grateful for that reply, because I recently came across a case of a Christian couple in a same-sex relationship and with children in the local Church primary school to whom it was made clear by the local conservative evangelical church that they would not be welcome to worship in it. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that such intolerance and bigotry have no place whatever in the Church of England? When the Church issues guidance, it is very important that that is made quite clear to both parishes and Church schools.

Tony Baldry (Second Church Estates Commissioner; Banbury, Conservative)
Of course I agree with the right hon. Gentleman about that. If he would like to give me the details of that case, I will most certainly take it up with the diocesan education officer. Children in Church schools come from a wide variety of family backgrounds, and teachers offer the same compassion and care for all. Each child is valued as a child of God and deserving of the very best that schools can offer. I would not expect any Church school to discriminate against any child, whatever their personal or family circumstances. If any right hon. or hon. Member comes across any instance where he feels that a Church school is in any way falling short of the standards that this House would expect, I hope they will get in touch with me.

This led to a number of reports in the media of the underlying incident in Devon:

Church of England Newspaper Dean’s surprise as gay couple are banned from worship

BBC Exeter church in ‘gay couple worship ban’

Western Morning News Gay Christians ‘not welcome in West church’

Update

The Diocese of Exeter issued the following statement earlier this week:

Philip Mantell, director of education for the Diocese of Exeter: “All our church schools work to serve the needs of all children and families in their communities and we recognize that families are very varied and we want all children to feel comfortable and flourish.

We fully support and uphold the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent statement on church schools addressing homophobia.

We have contacted Ben Bradshaw’s office to ask for details of the case to which he referred but have yet to hear back.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 July 2013 at 1:51pm BST | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England

The think tank, ResPublica, has published a report, authored by Philip Blond and James Noyes, entitled Holistic Mission: Social action and the Church of England.

The report itself can be downloaded as a PDF file.

The survey data it uses can also be downloaded from the Research by Design website.

The press release from ResPublica is here. The report makes the following recommendations:

  • The Cabinet Office should create a Unit to help involve the church in public service delivery, and to help explore alternative models of delivery.
  • The Cabinet Office should bring forward a new White Paper to investigate a holistic and personalised vision of public service.
  • The Church should set up a Social Action Unit to co-ordinate social action across dioceses and between Church and government.
  • This Social Action Unit should in turn oversee the creation of diocesan Social Action Teams to work with community groups and local government to tackle local problems and deliver services.
  • The Church Commissioners, Church of England Pensions Board and CCLA should set aside a certain percentage of the returns on their investment to invest in church-based social ventures.
  • Local Churches should make use of the ‘community right to buy’ and the Public Services (Social Value) Act to help communities retain and expand their assets.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 July 2013 at 9:16am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Marriage Bill: House of Lords completes Report stage

The House of Lords completed Report stage on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Wednesday.

For a report on the Monday session, go here.

The Hansard record of yesterday’s debate begins here, and continues here.

The name index is here. The PDF file for the day is here.

The Bishop of Leicester introduced Amendment 95, designed to amend the Education Act 1996, and the debate on this starts here. In the end, he withdrew the amendment.

Updates

David Pocklington’s analysis of the day can be found here.

It is also worth noting that three Lords Spiritual voted in favour of Amendment 94 which sought to extend civil partnerships to specified new opposite-sex categories. The text read as follows:

Clause 14, page 13, line 13, at end insert—

“(1A) The review under subsection (1) must deal with the case for amending the criteria in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which define the eligibility of people to register as civil partners.

(1B) The review must in particular consider—

(a) the case for extending such eligibility to—

(i) unpaid carers and those they care for, and

(ii) family members who share a house,

provided that they have cohabitated for 5 years or more and are over the age of eighteen, and

(b) the case for creating a new legal status that would confer all the benefits of civil partnerships upon those mentioned in paragraph (a) without amending the criteria for eligibility for civil partnership.”

The bishops voting in favour of this were: Chester, Exeter, and Winchester.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 July 2013 at 8:45am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Synod Questions about bullying in church schools

Question 65 Rachel Jepson to the Chair of the Board of Education

What progress has been made by the Board on developing recommended policies and staff-training materials relating to the bullying of LGBT people, and have any recommendations of the Board in those respects been implemented in any Church of England schools?

Answer from the Bishop of Oxford

The Board of Education/National Society, and indeed all Diocesan Boards of Education, are clear that any form of bullying is unacceptable in Church of England schools. If the Board became aware that existing tried and tested materials for both staff training and pupil activities were proving inadequate in developing relationships of respect and acceptance for all, the Board would take advice from the schools to determine appropriate action.

Question 66 Robin Hall

How many incidents of homophobic bullying were recorded in Church of England schools in the last school year (or the most recent school year for which statistics are available)?

Answer

No national or even diocesan figures are collected.

—-

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Presidential Address had said this:

…The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth…

To put this context, in November 2012, Dr Jepson had asked a similar question. From the official record, here’s how the answers went:

37. Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham) asked the Chairman of the Board of Education: How does the Education Division intend to respond to the recommendations contained in the recent Stonewall report concerning the experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012, in which it is reported that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Britain’s schools, many of whom attend faith schools, experience homophobic bullying?

The Bishop of Oxford (Rt Revd John Pritchard), in reply: The Board of Education is quite clear that no form of bullying, for whatever reason, is acceptable in Church of England schools and that it would expect all staff and governors to be vigilant and decisive. Diocesan boards of education work closely with their schools developing their Christian ethos and will be equally determined to put the absolute value of all children and young people at the heart of the Christian ethos of their schools.

Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham): Will the Education Division ensure that every school, at both primary and secondary level, has in place an LGBT anti-bullying policy and will provide training for all staff members on these matters?

The Bishop of Oxford: The Education Division itself cannot do that, but it can advise diocesan boards to do it and we will certainly consider that possibility.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 6:38pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Elections Review Group - General Synod debate

Last month I outlined the proposals from the Elections Review Group on the composition and electorate of the General Synod: part 1 and part 2. The Business Committee brought these to Synod for debate as the last items of business (apart from farewells) at Synod yesterday morning.

The proposals in part 1 were largely uncontroversial, and Synod agreed to send the draft legislation to a revision committee. But there was a lot of opposition to the proposal to abolish the university constituencies rather than reform them (and the way in which the review group had made its decision), and Synod passed this following motion, proposed by Professor Richard Burridge:

That this Synod request that the Steering Committee appointed under SO 49 to be in charge of the draft legislation arising from GS 1901 undertake full consultation with the University proctors regarding the proposals relating to the University constituencies in GS 1901, GS 1902 and GS 1904 and bring forward further proposals for consideration by the Revision Committee for the reform of those constituencies, based on accurate information.

Synod then moved onto part 2, of which the main part is the possibility of a change in the electorate for the House of Laity. Although the Business Committee supported replacing the lay members of deanery synods by an electoral college, they wanted to test the mind of Synod before producing any draft legislation. There is also a proposal to conduct elections online. But there was not time to complete the debate, and it was adjourned to a future group of sessions. Which group will be decided by the Business Committee.

The official summary of all Tuesday’s business is online, but strangely there is no mention of Professor Burridge’s motion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 10:30am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Women Bishops: Forward in Faith responds

press release from Forward in Faith

WOMEN BISHOPS: FORWARD IN FAITH RESPONDS TO JULY 2013 GENERAL SYNOD DEBATE

Forward in Faith thanks the many members of the Catholic Group in General Synod, together with other supporters, for their excellent contributions to yesterday’s debate.

Naturally, we are very disappointed that none of the amendments which would have ensured secure provision for those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests was passed. However, we are encouraged by the significant minorities, especially in the House of Laity, which did vote for such provision. We are confident that these votes, and the commitment which they represent on the part of many to a genuinely inclusive Church of England, in which all may flourish, will not be overlooked as the process moves forward. The alternative, which we would deeply regret, would be to pursue unsatisfactory legislation, lacking the necessary breadth of support, with the strong risk of ultimate defeat.

More detailed comments are set out below.

We welcome the commitment to continuing the facilitated conversations.

We welcome the widespread affirmation of the five points endorsed by the House of Bishops (GS 1886, para. 12), and trust that the draft legislation will embody and reflect all of them together.

We welcome the fact that 49% of the Synod voted for provisions to reduce the risk of legal challenge in the context of parochial appointments, and the resulting commitment to further work on this.

We strongly welcome the proposal, endorsed by many speakers (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) that the Steering Committee should be representative of a broad spectrum of opinion, and should draft legislation to which all can subscribe.

We also welcome the strong support of a very large minority of Synod members for legislation setting out rights and obligations that would create a clear and stable context for our future life together. We note the preference expressed by 40% of the House of Laity and over 30% of the Synod as a whole for provision to be made by Measure or by regulations under Canon.

In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November’s failure.

We feel bound to reiterate that, while we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England, we cannot support any legislation which removes the existing rights of the laity to a ministry that they can receive in good conscience and which fails to offer the minority what the working group termed ‘a greater sense of security’ than the previous draft Measure.

We are unconvinced as to how a ‘mandatory grievance procedure’ binding on bishops can deliver this in respect of parochial appointments by lay patrons and incumbents. We question whether replacing Resolutions A and B with this is the right way of going about the rebuilding of trust.

We remain committed to playing our full part in identifying a consensus that will command the necessary breadth of support to enable those who wish to receive the ministry of female bishops to do so in the near future. We hope and pray that further facilitated conversations and a more broadly-based Steering Committee will achieve this.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe Vice-Chairman
9 July 2013

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General Synod - Tuesday morning round-up

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks at CofE General Synod, Legal Issues

Peter Dominiczak in The Telegraph Welby reignites row with Government over ‘benefits scroungers’

John Bingham in The Telegraph Future Church of England bishops to be quizzed on their sex lives

Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Sex quiz for Church of England vicars who want to be bishops: Candidates will be asked after concerns gay and divorced clergy are breaking rules

BBC Women bishops: Church of England synod votes for new law (includes a two-minute interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury)

Andreas Whittam Smith in The Independent Women bishops at last? Law debated by Church of England Synod

Reuters UK Divided Church of England renews pledge to ordain women bishops

Christian Today Church of England makes fresh start on women bishops

Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake in the Church Times Synod approves new West Yorkshire diocese

BBC General Synod approves Diocese of Leeds merger plans

Michael Black in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus Bradford Diocese to be axed after General Synod decision

Yorkshire Post Yorkshire ‘Super diocese’ given go-ahead as Synod agrees to shake-up

Brighouse Echo Super diocese for Calderdale churches

Andrew Jackson in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner Huddersfield to get own bishop under new Church of England ‘super-diocese’ proposals

Heather Saul in The Independent Church of England issues ‘unreserved’ apologies to victims of Chichester child abuse after investigation reveals extent of failures

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 10:47am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Marriage Bill: House of Lords Report stage

Updated again

The Hansard record of Monday’s debate starts here and continues over here. There is a PDF file for the whole day here.

An index showing individual speakers is available. Interventions by bishops:

Bishop of Chester: here, and also here and then here. Then later here and again here.

Debate continues on Wednesday and there is a new list of marshalled amendments available.
And a further revised amendment is here.

Update

David Pocklington’s summary of the proceedings is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 10:07am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 8 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - press reports

Ed Thornton and Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake and Glyn Paflin in the Church Times Synod votes to explore Option One on women bishops

Sam Jones in The Guardian Justin Welby promises to press on with introduction of female bishops

Liz Dodd in The Tablet CofE progresses women bishops vote

BBC Women bishops: Church of England synod votes for new law

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Women in the episcopate - WATCH press release

WATCH has responded to today’s General Synod vote on women in the episcopate.

Synod affirms desire to have women bishops as a matter of urgency.

WATCH is pleased that the House of Bishops’ preferred option received overwhelming support from General Synod, which today re-affirmed its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency. The positive experience of the facilitated conversations was reflected in the tone of the debates. WATCH remains committed to full engagement with the ongoing process.

Vice-Chair, Charles Read commented, “This is an encouraging start to a process that will enable women to be bishops on equal terms as men.”

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Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield

Updated

The proposal to dissolve the three dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, and to replace them by a new diocese of Leeds (that may also be known as the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) was debated by General Synod this afternoon. The proposal was carried on a show of hands.

A second vote was carried to set up a transitional vacancy in see committee. The process to nominate the first Bishop of Leeds can now start. Meetings of the CNC have already been set: 12 November 2013 and 9/10 January 2014.

Update

The CofE has issued this press release.

Synod approves new Diocese of Leeds for West Yorkshire and The Dales
08 July 2013

The General Synod has, today, approved a draft reorganisation scheme that will see the creation of a new Diocese of Leeds, serving West Yorkshire and The Dales, and replacing the current Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield.

The new diocese will come into existence on a day to be set by the Archbishop of York after the scheme has been confirmed by Her Majesty the Queen through an Order in Council. Synod also approved a resolution establishing a Vacancy in See Committee for the new diocese so that the process for appointing the first Bishop of Leeds could begin.

Professor Michael Clarke, chair of the Dioceses Commission that prepared the scheme, welcomed the decision of the Synod. “Synod’s historic decision confirms the Commission’s judgement that the radical creation of a new diocese centred on Leeds offered the best way of meeting the mission challenges facing the Church in West Yorkshire.”

In addition to the Bishop of Leeds, the new diocese will be served by four area bishops of Bradford, Huddersfield, Ripon and Wakefield (the latter two being renamed Sees currently occupied by the Bishops of Knaresborough and Pontefract).

The Cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon, and Wakefield will be the cathedrals of the new diocese. There is provision for Leeds Minster to become a pro-cathedral in the future if the Bishop of Leeds so directs.

So as to be more in sync with civic boundaries existing archdeacon and deaneries will be reorganised under the scheme and a small number of parishes will transfer to neighbouring dioceses. Detailed arrangements about the workings of the new diocese are still to be worked out, as these will be for local decision.

The scheme was drawn up to enhance the ability of the Church to respond to the challenges of mission in the West Yorkshire region.

Notes

The detailed scheme can be read at http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1781735/gs%201898%20-%20draft%20reorganisation%20scheme.pdf.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York’s speech in the debate can be read at http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/2938/yorkshire-diocesan-reorganisation.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford’s speech can be read at http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/.

Diocese of Wakefield, http://www.wakefield.anglican.org/index.htm.

Diocese of Ripon & Leeds, http://www.riponleeds.anglican.org/.

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General Synod: Archbishop Justin on women bishops

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in today’s debate on women in the episcopate. Here is a transcript of his remarks taken from his website.

General Synod: Archbishop Justin on women bishops
Monday 8th July 2013

Read the Archbishop’s remarks during today’s Synod debate in which members voted to restart the legislative process to allow women to become bishops

The following transcript has been edited for clarity in several places

As has been widely agreed this is not about whether but about how, so that women are ordained on exactly the same basis as men and all parts of the Church of England may be enabled to flourish.

But history and contemporary experience shows that detailed arrangements not only embed division, they are also unworkable and lead to frequent and prolonged litigation. My last twelve months’ experience with Parliamentary Banking Standards has shown this very adequately. If they do not lead to litigation they invite attempts, through clever reading, to ensure a desired outcome. And if they do not lead to gaming the system they invite a box-ticking approach that seeks to conform to the letter not to the spirit.

I therefore strongly support an approach that is between Options 1 and 2, including the Dover amendment, with the extra work needed as suggested by the Archbishop of York. I also strongly support Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, although, as our last speaker so correctly said, we must recognise that while it is certainly the right thing to do it will require hard work and generosity to have any effect. As was just said there are neither magic processes any more than there are magic solutions that get us off the hook of needing a commitment to mutual flourishing.

The approach before us is a radical way forward. It provides the possibility of building trust, it gives us space for imagination, and it affirms an inclusive approach that is consistent with our previous resolutions – as I have said, the commitment to ordaining women as bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and the flourishing together of all parts of the church. The approach we have in this amended resolution sets a clear principle combined with a follow-through to the consensus building approach that we are developing.

I hope the Synod will take the opportunity of setting a clear general direction while leaving space for discussion and debate in various ways. I entirely agree that it is essential that the simple and clear five principles command wide support and ownership here and across the whole church, and have strong boundaries. They must be discussed, debated and agreed, be very robust, and closely followed and monitored. Essentially they are to be an electrified ring-fence. Thus the resolution, amended as we have agreed, combined with Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, seems to me the best way forward.

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Restart of process to allow women to become bishops

Following the vote earlier this afternoon the CofE issued this press release.

General Synod votes to restart the legislative process to allow women to become bishops
08 July 2013

The General Synod has reaffirmed its commitment to women bishops and called, less than a year after the previous proposals were rejected, for new draft legislation to be introduced. It will be considered by the Synod in November 2013, with the aim of reaching the stage of Final Approval in July or November 2015.

This was the first time Synod members had met since November 2012, when the previous draft legislation narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority in the House of Laity, despite enjoying the support of 73% of the Synod’s members overall.

The Synod reached its decision at the end of this today’s debate, after its members had devoted much of Saturday to facilitated discussions on the options available. Introducing the debate, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, who chaired the Working Group set up by the House of Bishops to advise on new legislative proposals, said, “I believe that option one, together with a mandatory mediation process and including as it does a declaration or, possibly, Act of Synod deserves to be taken very seriously as a means to provide the basis for securing the necessary majorities in the lifetime of this Synod.”

The House of Bishops had recommended that draft legislation be prepared on that basis described as ‘option one’ in the report of the Working Group established by the House to consider possible ways forward. That involved:

- a measure and amending canon that made it lawful for women to become bishops;

- the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993; and

- arrangements for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests, set out either in a declaration from the House of Bishops or in a new Act of Synod. (The possible content of such arrangements is set out in paragraphs 52-62 of the annex to GS1886.)

Accepting the proposal made by the House, the General Synod passed the motion, by 319 votes to 84, in the following form:

‘That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;

(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;

(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;

(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and

(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.’

amendments 45 and 47 in Order Paper V having been carried by the Synod.

Notes

The Report from the House of Bishops “Women In the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals” (GS1886) can be found here.

The report of the Working Group established by the House of Bishops is at the Annex of the Report.
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York from Friday 5 - Tuesday 9 July 2013.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England met in York on May 20 - May 21 2013 in York. Following its meeting, it released two statements which can be found here.
The Working Group was established by the House of Bishops at its meeting in December 2012.
The Working Group issued a consultation document on February 8 following facilitated conversations. The document can be found here.
By the deadline on February 28, 376 responses to the document had been received. Of these, 10 were from campaign groups or other organisations, 3 from bishops. Of the rest, 154 were from members of the Synod and 209 from others.

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General Synod - Women in the Episcopate

General Synod debated Women in the Episcopate this morning. The motion as passed by Synod is at the end of this article.

The paper before Synod was GS 1886, and this included the various options referred to in the motion and amendments.

The original motion before the Synod, proposed by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on behalf of the House of Bishops, was:

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886; and
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation.

[Option 1 comprises a measure and amending canon to make made it lawful for women to become bishops, and the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.]

Several amendments were moved. The first (proposed by the Revd Paul Benfield) was:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priests or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops7340
Clergy481374
Laity751154

Tom Sutcliffe proposed:

‘In paragraph (d) leave out “described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’” and insert “of coprovincial provision for alternative episcopal oversight to be administered by the two Archbishops jointly through the Archbishops’ Council along lines that continue the system of episcopal visitors currently in existence”;
And
Leave out “or draft declaration to be made by the House”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Peter Collard proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “the basis described in” and insert “paragraphs 96-109 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option three’, but on the basis that (i) the only amendment made to the 1993 Measure is the removal of the ability of cathedrals to pass Resolutions A and B and (ii) the provision to be made in relation to episcopal ministry is contained in an Act of Synod based on the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod to accompany the draft legislation”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Clive Mansell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

[Option 2 includes in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure.]

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops10281
Clergy551288
Laity931004

The Revd Simon Cawdell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “to prepare” and insert
“draft legislation which enables women to be admitted to the episcopate without reservation and which also enables those unable on theological grounds to accept their ministry to flourish within the Church of England as described in paragraph 12 of GS 1886;
(e) invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(f) request the Presidents to convene such facilitated groups as may assist the Steering Committee in its task throughout the process.”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

The Bishop of Dover proposed:

In paragraph (d) after “‘option one’” insert “with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

At this point the Synod broke for lunch.

After lunch Clive Mansell moved:

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest-in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

The amendment was defeated, with 200 votes in favour and 210 against, with 15 recorded abstentions.

Keith Malcouronne proposed:

At the end insert as a new paragraph –
“(-) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

Since two amendments were carried, the substantive motion became

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

The motion (as amended) was carried with 319 votes in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions.

———

Early on the Bishop of Willesden presented his ‘cunning’ plan. Jeremy Fletcher, on his blog, well summarised what he had to say.

Pete Broadbent has a ‘cunning plan’ (which he tried out on people last night). Have an enlarged Steering Committee – made up of pressure groups and those of no allegiance. It should have a ‘facilitated discussion’ and come up with something which the whole group can put its name to. No provision for a minority report. All or nothing. Forgo the use of a Revision Committee – that’s where it failed last time. Come straight to a Revision Stage in full Synod. That would make the moral authority of what comes to Synod much more powerful – all groupings would have had their say already. Warm and prolonged applause.

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General Synod - Welfare Reform

General Synod debated Welfare Reform last night. The CofE has isused a detailed press release.

Welfare Reform and the Church – Synod invites Government to re-open Big Society talks
07 July 2013

General Synod has this evening approved a motion calling for a “renewed settlement between the state, the churches and civil society”, and for “close attention to the impact of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable, and for support for those not in a position to support themselves”.

The motion was moved by Mission and Public Affairs Council chair Mr Philip Fletcher, who authored the report Welfare Reform and the Church (GS 1897).

In his speech, Mr Philip Fletcher said: “We don’t claim… that the whole responsibility for the welfare of our citizens should fall on the shoulders of the state - on the contrary, we would welcome a properly thought-through settlement between the state and the voluntary structures of society, including the Church, as a way of building up communities and promoting neighbourliness. As a Church, we not only seek those objectives all the time, we have responded practically to the hardships which the present austerity measures are imposing on people who have nowhere else to turn - effects which are likely to become more severe as those changes take full effect.”

Emphasising the Church’s involvement in social welfare provision for centuries, and the theological grounds for the Church’s support for a “welfare state”, Welfare Reform and the Church recognises that no structure for ensuring the welfare of all citizens is perfect and that reform is a continuing necessity. It notes that the balance between state and voluntary action has become distorted but comments that, contrary to the apparent direction of policy in the early days of the Coalition, “three years on we have seen very little of The Big Society in policy or practical terms”.

Unpacking the concepts of fairness, generosity and sustainability, the report also looks at public perceptions of welfare, pointing out that “the distinction between ‘strivers’ and ‘scroungers’ has entrenched harsh attitudes towards those whose benefits are being targeted for cuts”. It agrees that welfare dependency is a problem that “cannot be ignored” but argues that a “society which allows large numbers of its citizens to live in poverty is unlikely to be sustainable”.

The debate included contributions from the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds (the audio is available here).

The motion, including amendments from the Bishop of St Albans, the Bishop of Burnley and Mr Gavin Oldham (Oxford), was clearly carried following a divison of Synod (331 for, 1 against, 7 abstentions) and reads:

‘That this Synod, recognising that in times of austerity hard choices must be made between competing priorities, and acknowledging that reform of welfare systems is essential:

- affirm the need for a renewed settlement between the state, the churches and civil society in pursuit of social solidarity and the common good;

- invite the MPA Council to consider how the Church of England can better contribute to this new settlement, making recommendations to the General Synod by July 2014;

- encourage Her Majesty’s Government to found such reform on the principle of a bias towards the poor;

- call on politicians and pay close attention to the impact of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable, and call for support for those not in a position to support themselves and, in doing so, to consider whether the ring-fenced provision of universal benefits may be becoming the enemy of targeted benefits;

- decry the misleading characterisation of all welfare recipients as ‘scroungers’; and

- commend those across the churches who are working to support those most in need.’

There are several notes to the press release, and these are copied below the fold.

The Archbishop of York’s speech during the debate is online here.

Christian Today has reported the debate: Church condemns ‘scrounger’ rhetoric against poor.

Notes to the press release

1) The report Welfare Reform and the Church and its annexes are available here:
GS 1897
Annex 1
Annex 2
2) In March 2013, the Daily Telegraph carried a letter signed by 43 bishops drawing attention to the stresses and injustices brought about by the Government’s changes to the welfare system and calling for amendments to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill then passing through Parliament.
3) Members of the Lords Spiritual have contributed strongly to the debates on welfare in the House of Lords.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -3

Q 46 Joanna Monckton to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops

As the Church of England is “episcopally led and synodically governed”, why did the House of Bishops not consult with the House of Laity and the House of Clergy before declaring that priests in civil partnerships who live in accordance with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality could henceforth be considered for episcopal appointment, as reported in the statement issued on 4 January 2013?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester on behalf of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Sexuality

The House of Bishops issued its 2005 pastoral statement without prior consultation of the other two Houses and adopted a similar approach when clarifying one implication of it last December.

Q 47 Simon Butler

In the recent debates on same-sex marriage in the House of Lords, Lords Spiritual have spoken of the bishops’ historic and present support for the legislation enacting Civil Partnerships. In preparation for the forthcoming debate in Synod on Mr John Ward’s Private Member’s Motion on the registration of Civil Partnerships will the House of Bishops:

(a) take time to consider how best that support can be shown in the life of the church; and
(b) during the course of that forthcoming debate report to this Synod its conclusions?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester

In principle, yes, though that assumes that the Business Committee will be willing to give the House time to think through the implications of the same sex marriage legislation and consider the recommendations of the Pilling report before that private member’s motion is scheduled for debate.

Q 48 Judith Maltby

The House of Bishops’ Advice to the Clergy (GS 1449B, 2002) on the re-marriage of divorced persons states “While it would be unreasonable to expect that the couple should not even have known each other during the former marriage(s), was the relationship between the applicants - so far as you can tell from the information made available to you - a direct cause of the breakdown of the former marriage?” What is the position of the House of Bishops on the conduct of marriages in church in cases in which one or both of the couple has a former civil partner still living?

Answer from the Bishop of Gloucester

The House has given no specific consideration to this issue.

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General Synod - Safeguarding debate

General Synod debated safeguarding this afternoon, after which this press report was issued: Synod supports safeguarding apology and commitment to tighten procedures.

Synod supports safeguarding apology and commitment to tighten procedures
07 July 2013

General Synod voted today to acknowledge and apologise for past safeguarding wrongs. It also voted to endorse work on legislative and non-legislative changes to tighten procedures which have been identified following the Chichester Commissaries interim and final safeguarding reports.

Opening the debate, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: “We cannot do anything other than own up to our failures. We were wrong. Our failures were sin just as much as the perpetrators sinned. By failing to listen or act appropriately we condemned survivors to live with the harm when we should have been assisting them into whatever measure of healing might be possible.”

The motion - that Synod accordingly acknowledges and apologises for past wrongs and seeks endorsement from the Synod for legislative and non-legislative progress to be made during the period of this Quinquennium - was debated.

An amendment moved by the Revd Preb Stephen Lynas was carried.

Following a division of the Synod, the motion, as amended, was overwhelmingly carried (360 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions).

It had been brought to Synod following consideration by both the House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council so it could approve the next steps. (The proposed changes - including a consultation on certain legislative areas are outlined in Notes below).

In a follow up to the Commissaries’ reports the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote: “It is right, therefore, that the General Synod should receive an account of the actions that the House and the Council have put in hand, have an opportunity to comment on the next steps, and be able to identify with the apology that we wish to offer unreservedly for the failure of the Church of England’s systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.

There are substantial notes attached to the press release, and they are copied below the fold.

The motion as passed reads:

‘That this Synod
(a) endorse the Archbishops’ statement in GS 1896 expressing on behalf of the Church of England an unreserved apology for the failure of its systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others; and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused;
(b) invite –
(i) the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to pursue as a matter of urgency the programme of work set out in GS 1896 to enhance the Church of England’s safeguarding arrangements, ensuring that such arrangements are communicated effectively to those responsible for safeguarding in parishes; and
(ii) the Business Committee to schedule First Consideration of the necessary draft legislation as soon as the responses to the consultation document have been assessed, with a view to its securing Final Approval in the lifetime of this Synod; and
(c) invite the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod by February 2014 on what action is to be taken to secure the more effective delivery of the ‘Responding Well’ policy across the Church in the interests of survivors.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the deabte, and his speech is online here.

The debate was informed by this paper: GS 1896 Safeguarding Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports.

Some press reports have already appeared.

Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake and Ed Thornton in the Church Times Synod offers apology to abuse victims

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church’s sexual abuse victims reject synod apology amid calls for inquiry. “Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham tells colleagues church has ‘reabused victims’ and ‘sinned through its failure to act’.”

Christian Today Child abuse apology from Church of England

Notes attached to the press release

Possible legislative Changes

The House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council have agreed that given their importance and, in some respects, their sensitivity, the matters below should be the subject of a consultation over the course of the summer, with a view to the introduction of draft legislation as soon as possible, so that the necessary legislation receives Final Approval in the course of the current quinquennium. The Consultation can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1782983/gs%201896%20-safeguarding.pdf (p7)

  • Removal of the 12 month limitation period for the bringing of complaints under the CDM in sexual abuse cases
  • Extending the bishop’s power of suspension under the CDM
  • Amending canon law so that clergy can be required to undergo risk assessments
  • Preventing prohibited and suspended clergy from robing
  • Extending the circumstances in which churchwardens and PCC members can be suspended and/or disqualified from holding office
  • Amending Canon C 8 http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/churchlawlegis/canons/section-c.aspx.

Two further proposed changes to the legislative framework have already been approved at this group of sessions by Synod. The first of these is an amendment to the Code of Practice under the CDM to clarify when a complaint can be made under the Measure notwithstanding an acquittal in criminal proceedings. The second is an amendment to the Clergy Discipline Rules made under the CDM so that victims will be able to withhold their contact details from respondents when making complaints.

Non-Legislative Changes

These take the form of actions proposed by the commissaries where changes to practice but not legislative changes are needed.

  • Changes to the culture of the Church - Implementing cultural changes to any organisation is a complex task and does not happen quickly. However, this process can be facilitated by identifying areas where cultural change should happen. The proposal for an audit of diocesan safeguarding is intended to address both the more and less obvious areas where cultural change needs to happen.
  • Ensuring that existing and new safeguarding policies are properly implemented at diocesan level - Further work needs to be done to support safeguarding advisers in the effective roll-out of these policies.
  • Ensuring that every diocese has adequate safeguarding expertise with a professional adviser and an effective safeguarding group - There will be a need for national advisers to provide bishops with a checklist to carry out an immediate review of provision, including an assessment of diocesan websites and an audit of their current provision and future needs.
  • The roll-out of a national programme of safeguarding training - This will require the development of training material at national level and advice to dioceses on how to use this material, who should attend, and encouraging dioceses to commit to the necessary training.
  • Introduction of best practice guidance on responding to serious situations - This includes putting in place adequate resource at diocesan level to respond quickly to serious situations and developing guidance for dioceses on best practice in such situations. This will also require resource at national level to address situations which require national attention.
  • Development of guidance on safe working practices - this guidance is being worked on by the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group.
  • Review of risk assessment processes - this will need to be developed and agreed at national level before it is rolled out at diocesan level, and will require additional national resource to ensure that risk assessment processes are consistent, robust, of a high standard and compliant with human rights requirements.
  • Improved policy and practices on responding well to survivors - This will require additional resource at national level to help dioceses respond better and to recruit and train Authorised Listeners.
  • Safeguarding standards for ministers from other denominations - This is dependent on the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 after which further guidance can be developed.
  • Further clarity on the issue of confidentiality, including with regard to the Confessional, where some additional guidance may be needed.

Chichester Commissaries reports and statements
http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5055/archbishops-chichester-visitation-final-report-published

Wider Non-Legislative Changes

These take the form of actions proposed by the commissaries where changes to practice but not legislative changes are needed. The general actions which are being proposed are as follows:

  • The undertaking of an audit of safeguarding provision in every diocese
  • The review of risk assessment procedures
  • The development of core material and expectations around attendance for safeguarding training.

Most of these actions will require increased national resources at least in the short term (and possibly in the long term as well) and the audit itself may show the need for many dioceses to increase their resourcing on safeguarding. The Synod is asked to note that the Archbishops’ Council has now allocated additional funds at national level for the national work. This will be in addition to any funding which will need to be found by the dioceses to support increased work on safeguarding.
The non-legislative actions can be broken down in more detail as follows:

  • Changes to the culture of the Church - Implementing cultural changes to any organisation is a complex task and does not happen quickly. However, this process can be facilitated by identifying areas where cultural change should happen. The proposal for an audit of diocesan safeguarding is intended to address both the more and less obvious areas where cultural change needs to happen.
  • Ensuring that existing and new safeguarding policies are properly implemented at diocesan level - Further work needs to be done to support safeguarding advisers in the effective roll-out of these policies.
  • Ensuring that every diocese has adequate safeguarding expertise with a professional adviser and an effective safeguarding group - There will be a need for national advisers to provide bishops with a checklist to carry out an immediate review of provision, including an assessment of diocesan websites and an audit of their current provision and future needs.
  • The roll-out of a national programme of safeguarding training - This will require the development of training material at national level and advice to dioceses on how to use this material, who should attend, and encouraging dioceses to commit to the necessary training.
  • Introduction of best practice guidance on responding to serious situations - This includes putting in place adequate resource at diocesan level to respond quickly to serious situations and developing guidance for dioceses on best practice in such situations. This will also require resource at national level to address situations which require national attention.
  • Development of guidance on safe working practices - this guidance is being worked on by the Joint Safeguarding Liaison Group.
  • Review of risk assessment processes - this will need to be developed and agreed at national level before it is rolled out at diocesan level, and will require additional national resource to ensure that risk assessment processes are consistent, robust, of a high standard and compliant with human rights requirements.
  • Improved policy and practices on responding well to survivors - This will require additional resource at national level to help dioceses respond better and to recruit and train Authorised Listeners.
  • Safeguarding standards for ministers from other denominations - This is dependent on the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 after which further guidance can be developed.
  • Further clarity on the issue of confidentiality, including with regard to the Confessional, where some additional guidance may be needed.
Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 9:52pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Sunday lunchtime roundup

John Bingham in The Telegraph The actress and the bishop: Church of England makes drama out its own crisis

BBC Church of England set to make child abuse apology

Claire Carter in The Telegraph Church to vote on making ‘unreserved apology’ to sexual abuse victims

Christian Today Church of England ‘has 20 years to reassert its position as national Church’

Martha Linden writes for The Independent Church of England issues formal apology for child sex abuse failures

Nick Baines looks back: Talking about women (bishops) and ahead: Welfare matters.

And here is the ofiicial summary of yesterday’s public business: General Synod considers progress on Challenges for the Quinquennium.

Sam Jones reports for The Guardian on an incident at this morning’s service in York Minister attended by Synod members: York Minster assault leads to arrest.
John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the incident and on the service itself: Archbishop of York’s aide attacked ahead of Synod debate.
The BBC reports York Minster General Synod service disrupted by attack
Gavin Drake writes for the Church Times Two assaulted by intruder at Synod service

The Archbishop of York’s sermon in the Minster this morning is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 7 July 2013 at 3:15pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 6 July 2013

Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -2

Q 55 (Rod Thomas) to ask the Secretary General

Why does this decision of the House of Bishops in December 2012 in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate necessitate the removal in GS Misc 1044 of all the relevant factors which can properly be taken into account by the CNC in considering episcopal appointments which previously appeared in paragraph 29 of GS Misc 992 (with the exception of the factor relating to the existence of a civil partnership)?

Answer from William Fittall

Paragraph 29 of the Legal Office note of December 2010 set out various factors that could in principle be taken into account given the terms of the Equality Act and the lack of clarity at that point over whether what was said in the 2005 pastoral statement about priests and deacons also applied to bishops. The clarity created by the December 2012 statement enabled the revised note to distinguish more sharply between the test relevant to assessing the suitability of a particular candidate - the new paragraph 29 - and the criterion for imposing a requirement about civil partnership in the circumstances of a particular appointment.

Q 56 (Giles Goddard)

Why are the practices of undertaking enquiries into candidates for the episcopate involved in marriage after divorce, and of seeking assurances from candidates to the episcopate in civil partnerships (as described in paragraphs 22 and 29 of GS Misc 1044 respectively) not routinely extended to all candidates, to avoid even the slightest appearance of discriminatory treatment?

Answer from William Fittall

The enquiries made in the event of a marriage after divorce or marriage to someone with a surviving spouse are akin to those made under the Canon C4 faculty procedure. They are essentially to enable the Archbishop of the province to determine that there are no issues from the breakdown of the previous marriage that might constitute an obstacle to episcopal appointment. In relation to civil partnership the test is of a different character namely whether someone’s conduct is and will remain consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. To avoid the appearance of discrimination that assurance is in fact now sought in relation to all candidates for episcopal appointment.

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Synod Questions about Civil Partnerships -1

Although there were several Questions on this topic, none were reached in the course of Friday evening’s General Synod session. The prepared Answers were however made public and may be of interest to readers. So they will be published here in a series of posts over the next day or so, starting with this pair.

Q 44. (Clare Herbert) to Chair of House of Bishops

In the light of the high regard expressed for Civil Partnerships by both archbishops and other bishops recently, such as when the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the House of Lords “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same-sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage” when will the Liturgical Commission be tasked by the House of Bishops to begin work on an authorized rite for the blessing of civil partnerships for the use of those clergy who wish to conduct such services?

and

Q 45 (David Brindley)

In view of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s view expressed in the House of Lords in a speech on 3 June that faithful same-sex relationships should be ‘recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage’, when will the House ask the Liturgical Commission to produce proposals for appropriate liturgical recognition of those relationships?

Answer from The Bishop of Gloucester

The House of Bishops concluded in December that it didn’t at that point want to revise its 2005 pastoral statement on civil partnerships, which, among other things, had affirmed that clergy ‘should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.’ That was because the Pilling report which the House is due to receive this December and the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which had only just been published then, were going to require us to do some more careful thinking before we said anything further.

The context in which we minister is changing very quickly not least with the real possibility that the number of people entering civil partnership will fall very sharply next year once same sex marriages become a legal possibility. The House will be considering the implications of all this very carefully but there is nothing further that I can usefully say at this stage.

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opinion

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Not talking about death only makes it more lonely and frightening. “In the absence of faith, death cafes can provide a space for us to talk about what a good ending might be.”

David Walker has addressed the Society of Ordained Scientists. Download his address.

Damian Thompson writes for The Spectator that Here comes the God squad: what the new pope and the new archbishop have in common. “Evangelicals have taken charge in the Vatican and Lambeth Palace.”

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General Synod - Saturday morning press reports

Updates Saturday lunchtime

We published the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address to General Synod last night. Here are some press reports of the speech.

John Bingham in The Telegraph Welby calls for Church to join the sexual ‘revolution’

Sam Jones in The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury uses first address to warn of sexual revolution

BBC News Welby says CofE schools to fight homophobic bullying

Adam Jourdan of Reuters Anglican head says determined to push for women bishops

Steve Doughty in the Mail Online Church of England must accept gay rights, Archbishop Welby says in first speech to Synod

Christian Today Archbishop of Canterbury calls for restoration of trust over women bishops debate

And Bishop Nick Baines blogs: Revolution or Reformation?

The official summary of Friday’s business is here: General Synod – Friday pm and here: Clerk to the Synod and Prolocutor take their seats at General Synod.

Update
Colin Coward writes on the Changing Attitude blog Christianity in a time of revolution – Archbishop Justin’s presidential address.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 10:16am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 5 July 2013

Archbishop Justin's Presidential Address

Updated Friday 8.30 pm The Archbishops’s address, as delivered is now available, and is copied below the fold, replacing the earlier version.
Updated Friday 9.00 pm to add link to Church Times article
Updated Saturday morning to add video link

Justin Welby delivered his first presidential to the Church of England General Synod this afternoon.

The full text is online here and here and is copied below the fold.

Gavin Drake writes for the Church Times that Church must accept there is sexual revolution, Welby tells Synod.

There is a video of the Archbishop’s address here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave his first presidential address at General Synod in York this afternoon. Below is the complete text, checked against delivery

Before I begin I would like to thank all the staff at Lambeth and around the NCIs, and at Bishopthorpe and the Anglican Communion Office, who have been so effective and kind in dealing with the frightening and unsettling impact of a new Archbishop. Transitions are always very complex, and taking on a new Archbishop is as demanding as it gets. But there’s invariably been a warm welcome and extremely hard work, for which I am extremely grateful. Chief amongst those who have led the way through the process is Chris Smith, the Chief of Staff at Lambeth. After more than ten years of faithful service, working night and day and every weekend – he’s the biggest menace to my capacity to have a quiet evening in on a Saturday night because I get an email from him – after more than ten years of never stopping he is moving on to other things later this year. His contribution has been largely behind the scenes, but he has served the Church of England and the Anglican Communion – not only for a long time but with huge effect – and our debt to him is more than we can imagine. So on your behalf I would like to thank him.

As you know too from public announcements, Bishop Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has with great generosity and considerable sacrifice, I’d imagine, agreed to become the Bishop at Lambeth, in a new configuration for the role, working alongside the new Chief of Staff. I could not be more grateful to have such a wise and experienced person, who will enable my many weaknesses to be compensated for more than adequately.

One of the things about this job is you tend to carry a lot of baggage – physical, metaphorical; probably more than I know. We arrived yesterday, the car having broken down en route – there’s a nasty metaphor there. But we did arrive – and we found ourselves with a ton of baggage to carry from one end of what seemed to be a much bigger campus than last year, to the other. And it reminded me – as I was staggering along with what seemed to be enough robes to rival Wippell’s – that we come to this session of Synod with a certain amount of baggage; and it’s good to find ways of getting rid of it. A friend of ours – of my wife and mine, from our days when we lived in Paris – worked for many years for an American company but living in Paris. We went to stay with them about six of seven years ago – he’s now ordained; there’s no connection – and he was still laughing about an experience at Kennedy airport the day before. It was a February and the weather in New York had been very bad, and he’d arrived and everyone was in a grump and the flights were late. And when he got one from the front of the check-in, the person in front of him was incredibly rude to the poor check-in operator. And John, our friend, is always gracious and polite, and when he got to the front he said, ‘I’m embarrassed to be a passenger when people treat you like that. I don’t know how you were so patient.’ And she said, ‘Well, sir. I shouldn’t really tell you this. There’s sort of bad news and good news. The bad news is he’s sitting next to you on the flight to New York. But the good news is I’ve sent his luggage to Tokyo.’

There are a number of obvious applications to that, one of which is we could do with some people like that at the beginning of a Synod session – for the baggage to go somewhere else.

You don’t want a lot of baggage in a revolution. And we live in a time of revolutions. And the trouble with revolutions is once they start no-one knows where they will go. Of the most serious type, the physical type, the practical type… Bishop Angaelos, Head of the Coptic Church in the UK, whom I met in Egypt last week, and who is sitting with us today, knows exactly about revolutions. While we were in Egypt, we heard much talk of what would happen this week – and we’ve seen. And the grace and leadership of Christians in that country is something to behold.

But we live also in a time of many revolutions in this country. And as the Synod meets today, we are custodians of the gospel that transforms individuals, nations and societies. We are called by God to respond radically and imaginatively to new contexts – contexts that are set up by revolutions. I want to thank you, and to say what a privilege it is to share with you, in the ministry of shouldering the heavy burden of facing these changing contexts, and grappling with them in this Synod, now and over the years to come, and to thank you for your commitment in your work here you show to Jesus Christ and to His church. It is genuinely a privilege to be among you.

The revolutions are huge. The economic context and position of our country has changed, dramatically. With all parties committed to austerity for the foreseeable future, we have to recognise that the profound challenges of social need, food banks, credit injustice, gross differentiation of income – even in many areas of opportunity – pressure on all forms of state provision and spending: all these are here to stay. In and through the church we have the call and potentially the means to be the answer that God provides. As Pope Francis recalled so memorably, we are to be a poor church for the poor, however and wherever poverty is seen, materially or spiritually. That is a revolution. Being a poor church for the poor means both provision and also prophetic challenge in a country that is still able and has the resources to reduce inequality – especially inequality of opportunity and life expectancy. If you travel north from parts of Liverpool to Southport, you gain almost a year in life expectancy for every mile you travel. We are debating these questions in this Synod. But prophetic challenge needs reality as its foundation, or it is mere wishful thinking; and it needs provision as its companion, or it is merely shifting responsibility.

The social context is changing radically. There is a revolution. It may be, it was, that 59% of the population called themselves Christian at the last census, with 25% saying they had no faith. But the YouGov poll a couple of weeks back was the reverse, almost exactly, for those under 25. If we are not shaken by that, we are not listening.

The cultural and political ground is changing. There is a revolution. Anyone who listened, as I did, to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there. The opposition to the Bill, which included me and many other bishops, was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance in the House and participation in the debate, and majority, since 1945. There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches. I am not proposing new policy, but what I felt then and feel now is that some of what was said by those supporting the bill was uncomfortably close to the bone. Lord Alli said that 97% of gay teenagers in this country report homophobic bullying. In the USA suicide as a result of such bullying is the principle cause of death of gay adolescents. One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled. We may or may not like it, but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it.

The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth.

The three Quinquennial Goals of growing the church, contributing to the common good and reimagining ministry, are utterly suited to a time of revolution. They express confidence in the gospel. They force us to look afresh at all our structures, to reimagine ministry, whether it be the ministry of General Synod, or the parish church, or a great cathedral, or anything between all of those three. For that reimagination to be more than surface deep, we need a renewal of prayer and the Religious Life. That is the most essential emphasis in what I am hoping to do in my time in this role. And if you forget everything else I say, which you may well do – probably will do – please remember that. There has never been a renewal of church life in western Christianity without a renewal of prayer and Religious Communities, in some form or another, often different. It has been said that we can only imagine what is already in our minds as a possibility; and it is in prayer, individually and together, that God puts into our minds new possibilities of what the Church can be.

The Quinquennial Goals challenge our natural tendency to be inward looking, calling on us to serve the common good. That covers many areas, and between us all, not singly, we are able to face the challenge. May Synod rise to that. But the second of my personal emphases, within that goal, is reconciliation, within the church but most of all fulfilling our particular Anglican charism to be reconcilers in the world, in our communities, in families, even, dare I say it, amongst ourselves. Even if we do sometimes conduct our arguments at high volume and in public, to be reconcilers means enabling diversity to be lived out in love, resisting hatred of the other, demonisation of our opponents.

The common good goes much further than that. Our unique presence across the country enables us to speak with authority both in parliament and here, and in every church and cathedral and synod and gathering place across the country. Our extraordinary presence across the world as Anglicans enables us to speak with intelligence from around the world. As Anglicans we are called to reconcile incredible differences of culture in over 150 countries. What an extraordinary heritage we have under God. So we seek to be renewed here and across the Communion, and to find the reconciling presence of God. This Synod meets in an era of revolution, but we have together the means and the courage to seize the opportunities that revolution brings.

The Quinquennial goals aim at spiritual and numerical growth in the church. That includes evangelism, the third of my emphases. The lead has been set by the Archbishop of York. Here again we need new imagination in evangelism through prayer, and a fierce determination not to let evangelism be squeezed off our agendas. At times I feel it’s rather like me when I have to write a difficult letter, or make an awkward phone call: even things like ironing my socks become more attractive. We treat evangelism too often in the same way. We will talk about anything, especially miscellaneous provisions measures after lunch on Sunday; and we struggle to fit in the call to be the good news in our times through Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed THE good news for our times. God is always good news; we are the ones who make ourselves irrelevant when we are not good news. And when we are good news, God’s people see growing churches.

Attitudes to hierarchy and authority have changed, and continue to change; there’s nothing new in that. And the more they do, the more we are perceived, often wrongly – but genuinely – to say one thing, about grace, community and inclusion, and do another.

And yet with all these revolutions, which raise such huge challenges to us in our lives as the Church, we see clearly that God is working a wonderful and marvelous revolution through the Church in the wind of the Spirit, blowing through our structures and ideas and imagination.
There is a new energy in ecumenism, not least shown by Pope Francis. There is a hunger for visible unity. Many churches across England are growing in depth and numbers. People are looking for answers in a time of hardship and when we show holy hospitality and the outflow of grace, we are full of people seeking us. There is every cause for hope. This Synod had a shock, depending on your view, good or bad, last November; but there is here assembled, in weakness or confidence, in all sorts of fear and lack of trust, people with the faith and wisdom who in grace will seek the way to the greater glory of God.

In some things we change course and recognise the new context. Revolutions change culture. In others we stand firm because truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion. But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible. In times of revolution we too in the church, in the Church of England, must have a revolution which enables us to live for the greater glory of God in the freedom which is the gift of Christ. We need not fear. The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.

There have been many times where the Church of England felt that change was in the air or this was a moment of crisis. Because we are not an organisation, let alone a business, or even an institution, but in reality the people of God gathered by the Holy Spirit to walk together in a way that leads to the greater glory of God, there are bound to be many crises and turning points.

So let us not imagine for one moment that because we are in revolutionary times what we are going through currently is either more dangerous, more difficult or more complicated than anything faced by the generations before us. We are in the hands of God; the eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. We need not worry, but we must give all that we have and we are, for the uniquely great cause of the service of Jesus Christ.

So how we journey here is essential, and that is why during these next few days, certain things are being reimagined: not least what we do tomorrow. What is clear to all of us is that there exists, as we gather – and let’s be honest about it – a very significant absence of trust between different groups; and, it must be said – and the evidence of this is clear, though sad – an absence of trust towards the Bishops collectively.
One thing I am sure of is that trust is rebuilt and reconciliation happens when whatever we say, we do. For example, if, while doing what we believe is right for the full inclusion of women in the life of the church, we say that all are welcome whatever their views on that, all must be welcome in deed as well as in word. If we don’t mean it, please let us not say it. On the one hand there are horrendous accounts from women priests whose very humanity has sometimes seemed to be challenged. On the other side I recently heard a well-attested account of a meeting between a Diocesan Director of Ordinands and a candidate, who was told that if the DDO had known of the candidate’s views against the ordination of women earlier in the process he would never have been allowed to get as far as he did.

Both attitudes contradict the stated policy of the Church of England, of what we say, and are completely unacceptable. If the General Synod, if we decide, that we are not to be hospitable to some diversity of views, we need to say so bluntly and not mislead. If we say we will ordain women as priests and Bishops we must do so in exactly the same way as we ordain men. If we say that all are welcome even when they disagree, they must be welcome in spirit, in deed, as well as in word.

Lack of integrity and transparency poisons any hope of rebuilding trust, and rebuilding trust in the best of circumstances is going to be the work of years and even decades. There are no magic bullets.

So how we travel, and our capacity to differ without hating each other and to debate without dividing from each other, is crucial to the progress we make.

Integrity and transparency depend utterly on a corporate integrity and transparency before God, above all in our prayer and liturgy. I sometimes wonder if one of the drivers of our lack of trust is that we have lost from our experience and our expectation two of the great moods of liturgy: of lament and of celebration. The ability truly to lament, to rage at circumstances, at loss, at decline, at injustice, at our own sin or the problems we face, is one that enables us to find afresh the mercy and grace of God. Lament is a liturgical mood that builds our capacity to trust God in the face of change, and then we trust each other. Encountering the face of Jesus Christ in pain, grief or anger transforms us.

Equally the capacity to celebrate, to lift our hearts and voices in true and passionate praise and thanksgiving because the presence of God is known among, restores our perspective. Not only does it renew our faith and strengthen weary limbs in the long journey we are undertaking, but also the act of celebrating that which we share together cuts across our great barriers and difficulties. We celebrate because who can not be overwhelmed by the love of God?

Take for example the two Anglican Dioceses I saw a week ago in the Middle East, in Jerusalem and in Egypt. In the midst of terrible and confused situations, with unspeakable human suffering, tension and fear, they shine with brilliant light. And they are part of us. In each of them there is a profound commitment to the common good of the populations in which they live as a minority – populations of whatever faith and ethnicity. In each of them there are more schools, hospitals and clinics than there are churches. In each of them the Bishops have established confident and effective relationships with other churches, with Muslim leaders and with governments that enable them to speak frankly and truly and with great courage. And we need to remember that as what they do there affects us, lifts our hearts, shows us the grace and glory and power of God, even more so what we do here affects them and every other church in the Anglican Communion. We have great responsibilities.

We should do no less, be no less effective, no less bold than our brothers and sisters in Christ in those Dioceses; in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in places of persecution and suffering, of revolution, change and disruption. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love. AMEN.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 July 2013 at 6:46pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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General synod opens today

Updated Friday evening

The General Synod of the Church of England meets from this afternoon until Tuesday lunchtime. Thinking Anglicans will be there.

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times that Group talks hold key to women-bishops outcome.

The BBC reports: Women bishops on agenda as General Synod meets in York.

Recent opinion includes:

George Pitcher writes in The Independent that Women bishops are the first big test for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. “Those of us in the Church of England not sweatily testing cheap deodorants on the floor of Synod in York this weekend pray Welby can finally resolve this matter.”

Simon Cawdell writes for Fulcrum about New Paths for Old Minefields.

Alan Wilson writes on his blog about Genuine Unity — How to focus it.

But women bishops is not the only item to be discussed as the agenda and papers make clear.

Update

Andrew Brown blogs about The synod’s big chance to destroy the Church of England over female bishops. “The Church of England could be killed by a legislative process apparently modelled on a cow’s digestive system.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 July 2013 at 9:21am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Another GAFCON condemnation of Church of England

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, has published a July message, in preparation for the forthcoming second GAFCON conference in Nairobi in October. The message includes the following:

While we give thanks for much that has been achieved, especially in the emergence of the Anglican Church of North America and our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

An earlier attack from Archbishop Wabukala, also related to Civil Partnerships, was here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 10:30pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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more about the Scottish Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

Frank Cranmer has performed a detailed analysis of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which you can read here. His commentary includes comparisons with the English and Welsh bill currently in the House of Lords.

He also draws attention to the points which Kelvin Holdsworth has raised in 10 Unanswered Questions about Same-Sex Marriage which are of particular interest to those in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Similar questions may also apply to members of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, in due course, but it seems very likely that the answers will not be the same as in Scotland.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 9:19pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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House of Lords: Report stage approaches for Marriage bill

Updated again Saturday morning

The Report stage in the House of Lords for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill starts on Monday 8 July and completes on Wednesday 10 July. (The General Synod meeting will be considering Women in the Episcopate on Monday.)

The current revised marshalled list of amendments is available here. Those in the name of Baroness Stowell are Government amendments. Of the 136 amendments listed, there is only one in the name of a Bishop (Leicester, amendment 95, details below the fold).

The most recent text of the bill to which the amendments are proposed is available here, and in PDF format here.

Amendment 95:

95*
Insert the following new Clause—
Amendment of Education Act 1996
(1) Section 403 of the Education Act 1996 is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection (1B) insert—

“(1BA) Nothing in subsection (1B) prevents teaching the tenets of the
relevant religion or religious denomination concerning marriage
and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children to
registered pupils at schools which have a religious character.”

(3) After subsection (2) insert—

“(3) For the purposes of subsection (1BA)—
(a) a school has a religious character if it is designated as a
school having such a character by an order made by the
Secretary of State under section 69 of the School Standards
and Framework Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”); and

(b) “the relevant religion or religious denomination” means the
religion or denomination specified in relation to the school
under section 69(4) of the 1998 Act.”

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Categorised as: equality legislation

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Faith in Research Conference 2013

The Faith in Research Conference 2013 took place on 20 June. This is one in a series of annual conferences organised by the Research & Statistics Department, Church House and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology & Practical Theology.

The programme for the conference can be found here (PDF).

The slides used by Professor Linda Woodhead in her keynote presentation are available here as a PowerPoint file. She described these on Twitter thus:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:39pm BST | Comments (44) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Vacant sees

John Ford, the suffragan Bishop of Plymouth in the diocese of Exeter announced on Sunday that he was to resign in order to become the Bishop of The Murray in Australia. The Exeter website has this news article today: Bishop of Plymouth elected as Bishop in Australia.

That makes eleven suffragan sees (including one PEV) currently vacant, or shortly to become vacant.

Lewes (Chichester)
Whitby (York)
Grimsby (Lincoln)
Dunwich (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
Ebbsfleet (PEV, Canterbury)
Tewkesbury (Gloucester)
Colchester (Chelmsford)
Selby (York)
Grantham (Lincoln)
Dudley (Worcester)
Plymouth (Exeter)

But there are also ten diocesan sees vacant, or becoming vacant before the end of the year.

Blackburn (Julian Henderson to be consecrated on 10 October 2013)
Manchester (David Walker to be translated later this year)
Durham (CNC met in May and June - announcement expected soon)
Bath & Wells (CNC to meet 18 July and 3/4 Oct 2013)
Exeter (CNC to meet 18 Oct and 6/7 Nov 2013)
Hereford (CNC to meet 22 Jan and 25/26 Feb 2014)
Liverpool (CNC to meet 6 Mar and 1/2 Apr 2014)
Europe
Guildford
St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Later dates in 2014 have been provisionally set (see here)

25 June and 21/22 July
11 Sept and 15/16 Oct
3 Nov and 2/3 Dec

with this note “Dates for other vacancies will be confirmed once dates are in place for the Vacancy in the See of Gibraltar in Europe.” Although Gibraltar in Europe is not a crown appointment, it is considered by the CNC. The final decision is made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and a bishop nominated by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, acting jointly.

Some dioceses will have to wait a long time for their new bishop.

If the reorganisation of dioceses in Yorkshire is accepted by General Synod next Monday then Leeds can be added to the list of vacant sees. Provisional CNC dates have been set as 12 Nov 2013 and 9/10 Jan 2014.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 9:46am BST | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Monday, 1 July 2013

Forward in Faith Director calls for mutual generosity

Colin Podmore, the director of Forward in Faith, recently gave the commencement address at Nashotah House (a theological seminary in the USA). An abridged version is available under the title Living with Difference, specifically “over the ordination of women to the priesthood”.

Forward in Faith has today summarised the main content of the address, and Dr Podmore’s call for “costly compromise” over women bishops with this press release.

Forward in Faith Director calls for mutual generosity
Jul 1, 2013

The Director of Forward in Faith has called for new legislation on women bishops to reflect a spirit of mutual generosity like that which resulted in the 1993 settlement over the ordination of women to the priesthood.

In an article in The Living Church, Colin Podmore looks at how the 1993 settlement came about and what it contained. The Act of Synod, he points out, was not a unilateral concession but one half of a compromise, in which the House of Bishops took the lead. It reflected a spirit of Anglican generosity and was costly for both sides.

Dr Podmore writes, ‘Using our new Archbishop’s experience of reconciliation, we now need to identify a way forward whereby women bishops will be introduced not as a result of the majority defeating the minority, but instead as part of a no doubt costly compromise that, like the 1993 settlement, will enable us to live together with confidence and integrity.’

Read the article at http://livingchurch.org/living-difference-abridged.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 July 2013 at 8:27pm BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

CofE Financial Statistics 2011

Press release

Financial Statistics 2011

01 July 2013

Parish incomes continue to increase, passing £900 million for first time at £916 million, up £20 million on 2010, according to the latest parish finance statistics published by the Church of England. Income from giving in 2011 increased by 1.3% to £546 million, with planned giving exceeding £10 per subscriber each week for the first time and tax-efficient giving reaching £10.70 a week. At £46.40 a month, this is more than double the average donation to the charitable sector of £17.00 a month.

Dr John Preston, National Stewardship Officer, said, “2011 saw another year of increased parish incomes and giving, in large part due to the faith and commitment of regular givers. Although overall growth in income was lower than inflation, it is encouraging to note that the average weekly gift from our planned givers has risen by a further 3%.”

Other figures showing improvement include income from parish investments, up 7% as markets improved, and income from trading, such as book stalls, parish magazines and church halls, up 6%.

Investment in church buildings, for maintenance and improvements to facilities for community use, topped £200 million for first time, in 2011. Parishes made significant donations to mission organisations and other charities, totalling £49 million in 2011.

While inflation has reduced the value of giving, parish efforts to control costs reduced a deficit of £21m in 2010, after the recession, to £13 million in 2011. Deficits were met from parish reserves.

Churchgoers in Birmingham Diocese gave the highest proportion of their weekly income to their churches at 3.0% (5.7% among tax-efficient givers) against a national average of 2.0% (3.3% among tax-efficient givers).

Average weekly tax-efficient giving in dioceses ranged from £6.40 to £20.20; while weekly giving per electoral roll member ranged from £4.10 to £9.40.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 July 2013 at 9:53am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | statistics