Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What is in the Pilling report?

First, there are two reports so far of a London press conference yesterday about GAFCON, and it appears there may be a third one to come in the Church Times.

The Telegraph reported it this way: Church facing divide over blessings for same-sex couples

The Church of England is facing a split over proposals to offer a formal blessing for gay couples.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, warned on Tuesday that a move to celebrate same-sex relationships in church would be a “red line” for traditionalist parishes.

Clergy and lay members of the Church opposed to any relaxation of the rules could reject the authority of any bishops who supported the move, he warned…

The Guardian commented on it this way: It started as a split over gay clergy. But now the Anglican Communion is dead.

What, you gave a schism and nobody came? When six people hold a press briefing and three journalists attend, you know the story is over, and on Tuesday morning that is what happened when the evangelical wing of the Church of England announced – yet again – its plans to rebel against any open accommodation with gay people.

There were two retired bishops. There were three vicars and one of their wives. They talked to three journalists for an hour about their experiences at a conference of conservative Anglicans, called Gafcon, which met in Nairobi last week. This was set up as a protest against the reluctance of the official Anglican Communion to expel the Americans (who pay for it) as a punishment for their enthusiasm for openly gay clergy.

Once upon a time, this would have been a story. We heard threats to withhold money from the central bodies of the Church of England, threats to ignore the authority of other bishops, threats of defections to their grouping from the mainstream of opinion here. All these things will no doubt happen, as they have been happening in a small way for the past 20 years. What’s new is that no one any longer cares. The split has happened, and it turns out not to matter at all…

The Telegraph report refers to a blog post by Peter Ould concerning the contents of the forthcoming Pilling Report. That can be found here: The Path After Pilling.

I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be – This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal. Whilst the committee will not recommend adapting our services of Holy Matrimony to include same-sex marriages, I am led to understand that it will propose a formal rite that will provide an alternative for those in a formal same-sex union (Civil Partnership or Marriage) on the basis that we cannot presume such a relationship is sexual. Once that happens we will have formally declared same-sex unions to be holy. In the Church of England our liturgy is our doctrine and the moment we have a rite that in any way affirms same-sex relationships then we will have fundamentally changed what we believe…

Arun Arora has commented about this on Twitter, see Response from Church of England:

@thechurchmouse @PeterOuld @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham its pure nonsense. all drafts to date have recommended against liturgy for these.

@PeterOuld @thechurchmouse @edwardmalnick @John_Bingham Also final draft is not written so your blog -whilst a good read-is pure conjecture

Colin Coward has a blog article too: Is Pilling going to recommend the blessing of gay relationships?

Update 3 pm
And today, the Church of England has issued this statement: Pilling Commission on human sexuality. The full text is copied below the fold.

Pilling Commission on human sexuality
30 October 2013

Statement from William Fittall, Secretary General of the General Synod and Archbishops’ Council, placing recent media and blog speculation in context:

“At last Friday’s Synod press conference a national journalist asked me to confirm the now widely held story that the Pilling Group on human sexuality had been scrapped. I said that, on the contrary, the Group was still meeting and was due to complete its report in time for the House of Bishops to consider it at its meeting in December.

“Then on Monday a clergyman posted a blog saying: “I have now confirmed from a number of sources what the Pilling Report is going to recommend. The final draft is ready and it will propose that the Church of England introduce some form of liturgy that will bless same-sex relationships. There is absolutely no doubt that this is what the outcome of the committee’s deliberations will be - This is not spin, it is not trying to influence the outcome, it is the real deal.” Our Communications Office responded to this by saying that, on the contrary, “the final draft of the Pilling report has not yet been completed or signed off.”

“In relation to these and any other claims it is important to be clear that the Pilling group cannot be expected to provide a running commentary on a report that it is still working on. In addition, the House of Bishops is in no position to say anything about a report that it has yet to receive, still less study. Since no one can know at this point what the report will eventually say, such claims are simply speculation.

“It is also important to recall that when the House of Bishops established the review in July 2011 it did so because it wished “…to offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. Our intention is to produce a further consultation document …” The Pilling report will be a report to the House of Bishops and it will then be for the House to decide, in the light of the report, what proposals and process of consultation it wishes to launch.”

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Monday, 28 October 2013

Full list of female representatives to House of Bishops

The Church of England has announced that the Revd Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry in the Chester Diocese has been elected by the NW region as their female representative in the House of Bishops.

This completes these elections. The full list of representatives is:

Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester (East Anglia)
Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York (North East)
Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown (South and Central)
Revd Libby Lane, Dean of Women in Ministry, Chester Diocese (North West)
Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells (South West)
Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier, Preb of Lichfield Cathedral (West Midlands)
Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney (South East)
Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield (East Midlands)

The representatives will take up their roles on 1st December.

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Saturday, 26 October 2013

Women in the Episcopate: Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH respond to new proposals

Updated Tuesday

The Catholic Group in General Synod has also issued a statement:

on the report of the Steering Committee on Women in the Episcopate to General Synod for November 2013 Group of Sessions

“The Catholic Group recognises that a huge amount of work has gone into producing a comprehensive and detailed legislative package, work which has been costly in spiritual and emotional terms, as well as in time - we are deeply grateful to all the members of the Steering Committee for all that they have done for the Church.

“Naturally, such a complex package will need careful study and prayer by all, rather than instant responses, and we will comment further in due course. However, as important as the detail of the proposals themselves, will be the spirit in which they are received and taken forward - a spirit of reconciliation and trust, which we believe has been growing this year, by the grace of God; it is in that light that we shall study them.”

Forward in Faith has issued this response:

Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals

Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.

The proposed combination of a House of Bishops’ Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.

In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.

After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.

Women and the Church has issued this response:

WATCH encouraged following publication of WiE Steering Group’s draft legislation

The Women in the Episcopate draft legislation put forward for General Synod next month by the Steering Group contains much to encourage those campaigning for the full inclusion of women at every level of the Church. WATCH’s thanks and prayers go to those on the Steering Group working hard to achieve this and who worked under the principles of simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.

There is much in the report that is welcomed by WATCH. Firstly, that the legislation put forward is simple and General Synod’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly and as simply as possible has been reflected in the draft legislation. WATCH also supports the recommendation of the Group to legislate on this issue through a Bishops’ Declaration, not an Act of Synod, and the wholehearted endorsement of women’s ministry in the five guiding principles. It is particularly encouraging that every diocese will have a bishop, whether the diocesan or suffragan, who ordains women to the priesthood with emphasis on consultation between diocesan bishops and parishes and diocesan bishops and PEVs.

The appointment of an Independent Reviewer is a new proposal and one which allows a forum for all sides to raise issues and concerns. As a new development, it will be interesting to see how this is received by all groups involved.

WATCH has noted the proposed arrangements for those opposed to women holding leadership roles in the church. The church will rarely be unanimous about the appointment of particular people as bishops but it is important that the leadership of bishops is widely recognized and respected amongst those they are appointed to lead.

WATCH thanks those involved in the Steering Group for their hard work and commitment to this issue and remains committed to working towards the highest possible degree of communion.

Anne Stevens, a WATCH vice chair said, ‘It’s good to see draft legislation that is so clear and concise, and we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops. We’re grateful to the Steering Committee for all their hard work on the Bishops’ Declaration, which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.’

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GAFCON 2 concludes with Communique and Commitment

Here is the full text of the document issued at the end of the conference in Nairobi. There is also a PDF version here.

There was an earlier press release containing the text of a resolution agreed by an unspecified number of GAFCON bishops: GAFCON votes to expand.

Much other material is available from this page. English readers may be particularly interested in the following contributions:

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Baptism has been in the news this week, prompting these opinions.
Bosco Peters writes about CofE baptism inconsistency.
Creede Hinshaw writes for the Albany Herald that Coverage misses the mark on baptism.
Joanna Moorhead writes for The Guardian that Prince George is being baptised – if only more children were.
Edward Green offers these Top 10 facts about Christenings.

Rachel Held Evans asks Will the real complementarian please stand up?
This has prompted Richard Beck to write this series of articles.
Let’s Stop Calling It Complementarianism
Hierarchical Complementarianism Implies Ontological Ineptitude
Some Contrasts Regarding Gender Roles in Evangelicalism and Catholicism

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian about The archbishop, the duchess and the politics of poverty.

Miroslav Volf asks What’s in a name? Christians, Muslims and the worship of the One God at ABC Religion and Ethics.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 26 October 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 October 2013

General Synod agenda - press reports on women bishops proposals

Updated Saturday

Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Trust but verify’ summarises new women-bishops package, says Fittall

Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England could have female bishops by 2014, says committee

Edward Malnick The Telegraph Ombudsman could rule on Church of England disputes

Thomas Penny Bloomberg Church of England May Back Women Bishops as Soon as Next Year


The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, chair of the Steering Committee was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme this morning. You can listen to the programme here; the interview starts at 01:47:54.

Kevin Rawlinson The Guardian Church of England ombudsman could resolve disputes over women bishops

BBC Synod to consider women bishops ‘ombudsman’

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 October 2013 at 5:50pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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General Synod online papers

Updated Friday 1 November

General Synod meets next month from 18 to 20 November, and the papers are starting to appear online. Most became available today and others will appear on 1 November.

There is a zip file of all the papers issued today (25 October).

There is now a zip file of the papers issued on 1 November, and a zip file of all the papers.

This list is in numerical order, with links to the individual papers and a note of the day on which debate is scheduled. It will be updated as more papers become available.

GS 1866B - Draft Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure [Monday]
GS 1877B - Draft Amending Canon No 31 [Monday]
GS 1866Z-1877Z - Report by the Steering Committee

GS 1906 - The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report from the Business Committee [Wednesday]

GS 1914A and GS 1914B - Diocesan Synod Motion: A Review of the workings of the General Synod [Tuesday]

GS 1915 - Agenda November 2013

GS 1916 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1917 - Intentional Evangelism [Monday]

GS 1918 - Draft Diocese of Leeds Resolution [Monday]

GS 1919 - Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1919x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1920 - The Church School of the Future [Tuesday]

GS 1921 - Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1921x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1922 - Draft Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation 2013 [Tuesday]
GS 1922X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1923 - Forty Eighth Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1924 - Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [Wednesday]
GS 1925 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Wednesday]
GS 1926 - Draft Amending Canon No.33 [Wednesday]
GS 1925-6x - Explanatory Memorandum [Wednesday]

GS 1927A and GS 1927B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Name of Dioceses [contingency business]

GS 1928A and GS 1928B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England - National Debate

Synod members have also been sent these other papers.

GS Misc 1061 - Women in the Episcopate: Guide to the papers
GS Misc 1062 - Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1063 - Credit Unions, The Financial Sector and the Church

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper
3rd Notice Paper

Standing Orders updates

Church Care Impact Review 2013

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Agenda for November 2013 General Synod

The agenda for next month’s meeting of General Synod was released this morning. It was accompanied by this press release.

NEWS from the Church of England
PR 157.13
For Immediate Release

Agenda for November 2013 General Synod

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a three day meeting from 1.45 pm on Monday 18th November until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 20th November.

The agenda for the meeting is published today with the progression of legislation for enabling Women to become Bishops predominating. During its meeting Synod will consider the package of proposals drawn up by the Steering Committee for the draft legislation on women in the episcopate. There will also be debates on Evangelism and Church Schools.

Synod’s first debate on Monday will be on Intentional Evangelism, with the Archbishop of York proposing a motion reflecting the Church’s priority of evangelism and making of new disciples. The motion seeks to establish a new Task group on Evangelism with its first priority being a new call to prayer in June 2014.

On Monday evening the Bishop of Rochester will give a presentation of its proposals to admit women to the episcopate to aid discussion in small groups on the morning of Tuesday 19th November. This group work follows on from the generally well-received group work which took place at the July 2013 General Synod. There will then be two debates on Women in the Episcopate on Wednesday 20th November. In the morning there will be a debate on the Steering Committee’s Report which describes the package of proposals that the Committee has prepared in accordance with the mandate set by the Synod in July and includes the first draft of a House of Bishops declaration and a disputes resolution procedure. The Synod will be invited to welcome the proposals and the five guiding principles, already agreed by the House of Bishops, which underpin them.

Then before lunch Synod will move on to give first consideration to the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon prepared by the Committee. The Chair of the Steering Committee will move that the legislation should be committed for revision in full Synod without a prior Revision Committee Stage. The expectation is that the Revision Stage would be held in February.

On Monday afternoon, there will be a debate on Intentional Evangelism. The motion being debated supports the formation of an Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism. The debate is co-sponsored by the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council.

On Tuesday afternoon there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. This will be followed by a debate on a report from the Board of Education on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Chadwick Report on ‘The Church School of the Future’. The Bishop of Oxford, as Chair of the National Society and the Board of Education will present the progress report and invite Synod to endorse the next phase of the implementation process.

Other items of business on the synod’s agenda include the system for elections to the House of Laity and a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from London Diocese on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod which will look at the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and ‘whether…the current synodical framework and representative structures are still fit for purpose.’

Contingency business takes the form of two related Diocesan Synod Motions from Bradford and Wakefield. The Bradford Diocesan Synod calls on the Archbishops’ council ‘to introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to a geographical area.’ The Wakefield Diocesan Synod Motion on The Nature and Structure of the Church of England asks the House of Bishops to facilitate a debate about the organisational shape of the Church.

Finally, the Synod will be considering several other pieces of legislation in addition to that relating to women in the episcopate, including a draft Measure intended to take further the reform of the faculty jurisdiction which was begun in July.


The full agenda can be viewed online here.

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Women in the Episcopate

The new proposals to allow women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England were published this morning. They will be debated at General Synod on Wednesday 20 November, and comprise these four papers:

GS 1924 - Report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate
GS 1925 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926 - Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1925-6x - Explanatory Memorandum

A guide to these papers [GS Misc 1061] has also been published and is copied below.

GS Misc 1061
Women in the episcopate- guide to the papers

1. In view of the significance of the material that it has produced and the fact that it is distributed across several documents the Steering Committee thought that Synod members might find it helpful to have a very short note on how they fit together.

2. The Steering Committee’s report is at GS 1924 and is the natural place to start. It gives an overview of the Committee’s work and of the package of proposals that it is recommending. It also explains the motion that the Steering Committee is bringing to the Synod in November and what the process would be thereafter.

3. Drafts of two elements of the package - the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Regulations establishing a disputes resolution procedure - are set out at Annexes A and B of the report. In addition there is some background material on the disputes resolution procedure at Annex C. The drafts of the Declaration and the Regulations are, at this stage, proposals to the House of Bishops, which will consider them in more detail in December and then bring them, together with a motion for debate, to the Synod in February.

4. The other two elements of the package are the draft Measure and Amending Canon. These can be found at GS 1925 and 1926 respectively, together with an Explanatory Memorandum from the Legal Office at GS 1925-6X.

5. These two items of legislation are being brought for first consideration in November. The Steering Committee, with the consent of the Business Committee, is proposing that they be committed for revision in full Synod. This would enable all four elements of the package to be considered at the same group of sessions in February.

William Fittall 23 October 2013
Secretary General

There is also Women in the Episcopate: A Statement from the Archbishops which is copied below the fold.

Women in the Episcopate: Statement from the Archbishops

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed the progress made by the Steering Committee charged with the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee has met several times during September and October to prepare proposals for consideration at the November meeting of the General Synod.

The proposals of the committee are published today. In response the Archbishop of Canterbury and York have today issued a joint statement:

“It is significant that the 15 members of the Steering Committee chaired by Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester, who represent the widest possible range of opinion on the matter, have been able to reach substantial agreement on a package of proposals to put to General Synod in November. For this we thank God, and we pray in hope that this will help General Synod debate and decide on the necessary next steps to enable women to become bishops.

“We are also profoundly grateful to all the members of the Committee who have engaged with each other and with their shared task in such depth and with such care and prayer throughout the intense deliberations of the past few weeks. Our particular thanks also go to David Porter, Sandra Cobbin and Bill Marsh for their work in facilitating these meetings. We are also grateful for the help and support offered to the Committee by William Fittall, The Secretary General, Stephen Slack, Chief Legal Adviser, Alexander McGregor, Deputy Legal Adviser and Sir Anthony Hammond, Standing Counsel.

“In the light of this we warmly commend the proposals of the Steering Committee to members of General Synod and to all members of the Church of England for prayer, study and reflection. “May we be guided by God, and ‘make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ (Ephesians 4.3)”

+Justin Cantuar +Sentamu Eboracensis


Notes to Editors:

The proposals of the steering committee can be found here.

The Steering Committee was established by the General Synod in July 2013 following its debate on recommendations from the House of Bishops. See here for further information.

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

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Forward in Faith National Assembly 2013

The 2013 National Assembly of Forward in Faith was held at the Church of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, London on Saturday 19 October.

There is a press release, ‘Grow the Church and win souls for Christ’, says Forward in Faith Chairman and another which contains the full text of the resolution which was passed by the Assembly: Women in the Episcopate: National Assembly Resolution. This is copied below the fold.

The website also contains the full text of the Chairman’s address, and the text of the sermon by the Bishop in Europe.

There are also numerous audio files linked from this page.

One that may interest General Synod members is the recording of remarks by The Revd Paul Benfield about the recent work of the Steering Committee for the new legislation for women bishops. This can be found here.

Women in the Episcopate: National Assembly Resolution

Meeting in London on 19 October, the Forward in Faith National Assembly received a presentation on developments regarding resolution on Women in the Episcopate since October 2012. It passed the following resolution:

That this Assembly

(a) reaffirm our aspiration to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission;

(b) request the General Synod and the House of Bishops to ensure that we have continued access to a ministry which will make this possible; and

(c) thank those members of Forward in Faith who have participated in the facilitated conversations and in the Steering Committee for the Women in the Episcopate legislation with a view to achieving this.’

Moving the motion, Prebendary Sam Philpott said ‘This church of ours… needs a great dose of charity’. He called on the catholic constituency to ‘love this church’ and to ‘show this church how it can become a loving church again within its own communion in order that it might actually proclaim to the world the love of God’.

Forward in Faith, he said, had ‘a passion to belong to part of the Church that is strong and bold and flourishing and passionate about converting England’ and wanted to play its part. ‘All that we ask’, he added, ‘is that at the end of this process our church gives us the space in which we can live a catholic life, looked after by catholic bishops, catholic priests and catholic deacons’.

Fr Charles Razzall praised the motion as ‘positive, firm and irenic’, which was ‘where we certainly want to be in the future’. He pointed out that in the motion ‘ensure’ means ‘guarantee’ and ‘continue’ means ‘without limit of time’.

Replying, Fr Philpott said: ‘I long for a Church of England that may well have different views on this particular subject, but will so provide for its children that it can actually speak to a broken world about reconciliation with an authenticity that is simply not around in our world at this moment.’

The motion was passed nem. con.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 9:35am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Archbishop’s message to GAFCON 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury sent a video message to GAFCON 2013 and this is now available online: Archbishop’s message to GAFCON 2013: seek holiness and unity. The link also includes a transcript of the archbishop’s message and this summary:

Archbishop Justin sent a video greeting to the Second Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) Conference, which is taking place in Nairobi this week. He told them that it was his prayer that they would ‘meet Jesus afresh with elation and joy’.

The Archbishop was unable to attend the GAFCON meeting because of previous commitments, including the baptism of Prince George on Wednesday.

In his message, Archbishop Justin affirms the recent call by the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, who chairs the GAFCON Primates Council, for the Church to proclaim the gospel confidently.

To do this, Archbishop Justin says, ‘we need to be a Church that is holy’. That is a ‘massive challenge’ to churches in different contexts around the world, but is ‘absolutely critical to our proclamation of the gospel’.

To proclaim the gospel effectively, the Church must also be ‘in unity’, the Archbishop says. ‘It doesn’t mean being unanimous, all saying exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. It means that, as Jesus prays in John 17, that we demonstrate by our love for one another that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore people are drawn to believe in him. We’ve got to find ways of doing that and I don’t underestimate the challenge that is to all of us.’

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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Bishop of Auckland wins tribunal case

Professor Mark Hill QC has written a guest post at Law and Religion UK entitled Anglican Bishop’s refusal to consider gay man for ordination upheld by New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal.

On 17 October the Human Rights Review Tribunal of New Zealand handed down a judgment which will be keenly studied both by religious organisations and by LGBT groups. The case of Gay and Lesbian Clergy Anti-Discrimination Society v Bishop of Auckland [2013] NZHRRT 36 concerned Mr Eugene Sisneros, who wished to undergo a period of discernment to test his call for ordained ministry. The Bishop of Auckland refused to allow him to do so because Mr Sisneros was in an unmarried relationship. Mr Sisneros brought proceedings on the basis of direct discrimination (on his marital status) and indirect discrimination (due to his sexual orientation).

Under New Zealand law, section 38 of the Human Rights Act 1993 makes it unlawful for employer organisations to discriminate on a number of prohibited grounds, one of which is sexual orientation. However, section 39 provides an exception in relation to a calling for the purposes of an organised religion. The substantive issue for the Tribunal was whether this statutory exception applied to the facts of the case…

Curiously that post does not (yet) contain a link to the full text of the decision, which is available as a PDF file, over here.

There is another discussion of this case (which does contain such a link) by Neil Addison at Religion Law Blog titled Gay and Lesbian Clergy v Bishop of Auckland.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 at 3:26pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Royal Baptism

Updated Wednesday evening

On Wednesday 23 October 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury will baptize His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge in a private ceremony at The Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.

The archbishop has recorded a five-about minute video in which he talks about this event and the broader significance of baptism.

Here are just a few of the many articles in press.

The Guardian has this editorial today: In praise of … a right royal dunking.

The Telegraph
Prince George’s christening ‘hugely important’, says Archbishop of Canterbury
Gordon Rayner Prince George christening: tough times ahead for Duke and Duchess, says Archbishop

Archbishop hopes Prince George baptism will inspire


The archbishop published this after the service: Prince George’s christening: read highlights from the Archbishop’s address.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 at 2:25pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 October 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury preaches in Nairobi


The full sermon is available as a video, here (27 minutes).

The context of this event is explained here.


Lambeth Palace has issued this press release: Archbishop Justin visits Nairobi.

The Church Times carries this news report by Madeleine Davies New structures needed, Welby tells GAFCON Primates and this additional commentary Archbishop and Gafcon Leaders size each other up by George Conger.

There is also this report by George Conger Welby backs GAFCON vision for a renewed Church which says there were some changes made to the sermon at its second delivery.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 October 2013 at 3:59pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 October 2013

Same-Sex Marriages in Shared Church Buildings

David Pocklington has written a very detailed article about the Ministry of Justice consultation which is currently in progress.

The documents are all linked in his first paragraph:

On 3 October, the Ministry of Justice published the Consultation Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 Shared Buildings Regulations, which closes in less than a month on 1 November 2013. In addition to the Consultation, the MoJ has published Draft Regulations (as Annex A) and Revised provisions of the Marriage Act 1949 for Registration of Shared Buildings for marriages of same sex couples (as Annex B). The Consultation is in the form of an on-line survey, although the 9 questions and associated descriptive material are contained in the consultation document at pages 12 to 20.

The full text of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 can be found here in PDF format.

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Glenn Davies, the new Archbishop of Sydney, gave his first presidential address to his diocesan synod this week. ABC Religion and Ethics has published this slightly abbreviated version: Challenges for the gospel: Christian witness and the future of Anglicanism in Sydney.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that To ask whether religions are rational is like asking whether they are pale green.

Shirley Pearce asks in the Church Times: Contentment or terror?

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Friday, 18 October 2013

Ministry Statistics 2012 published

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2012: Ministry today. You can download them here.

There is this accompanying press release.

CofE ministry playing vital role in every community, show latest stats
18 October 2013

Ministry Statistics for 2012, published today by the Research and Statistics Division of the Archbishops’ Council, show a change in patterns of ministry over the past 10 years with numbers remaining largely constant.

The overall number of diocesan licensed clergy declined by 1% in the decade between 2002 and 2012. The number of full-time stipendiary clergy was 7,798 in 2012, a fall of 2% since 2011. They now represent 69% of all licensed clergy compared to 80% in 2002. Over the same period the number of self-supporting ministers increased by 50% from 2,091 in 2002 to 3,148.

The 2012 statistics show a continuing trend of increase in the proportion of female clergy in all categories. Whereas in 2012 there were 6,017 male full-time stipendiary clergy compared with 7,920 in 2002, a fall of 24%, in the same period their female counterparts have increased by 41% from 1,262 to 1,781. Women now account for 21% or one in five incumbents or those of incumbent status. Amongst senior clergy the percentage has increased from 4% to 11%.

The number of ordinations has remained broadly stable since 2002. In 2012 22% of recommended candidates were under the age of 30, compared to 15% in both 2002 and 2007. This reflects a focus in the dioceses on encouraging vocations among younger people.

Ven Julian Hubbard, the Church of England’s director of ministry said: “These statistics reflect changing patterns of ministry, to meet the changing demands of 21st Century life, with an increasing reliance on self-supporting ministers and the spread of ministry teams. The continued commitment to ministry in the Church if England shows the importance of the Church as a Christian presence in every community.”

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Thursday, 17 October 2013

four more female clergy named to join the House of Bishops

Confirmation of the two choices mentioned here earlier this week comes in a press release today which reveals that only the North West Region has not yet completed its election process.

Four more female representatives to House of Bishops Elected

17 October 2013
Further results from the elections for female representatives to attend the House of Bishops have been announced. At its meeting of 7 February 2013 the House of Bishops decided that eight senior women clergy, elected regionally, will participate in all meetings of the House until such time as there are six female Bishops who will sit as of right.

The latest four elected members are:

  • East Midlands region - Ven Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
  • West Midlands region - Revd Preb. Dr Jane Tillier, Preb of Lichfield Cathedral
  • East Anglia region - Ven Annette Cooper, Archdeacon of Colchester
  • South and Central region - Ven Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Portsdown

This follows a previous announcement of the first three female representatives on the 26th September.

  • South West region - Ven Nicola Sullivan, Archdeacon of Wells
  • North East region - Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
  • South East region - Ven Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney

The representatives will take up their roles on 1st December.

The Notes following the text include the statement that the result for the election in the North West region is expected to be announced before the end of October.

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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Tab meets... Rowan Williams

The Tab is a student online newspaper which functions at many UK universities.

The Tab Cambridge has this feature article in which the “Current Master of Magdalene and ex-Archbishop of Canterbury talks to JAMIE WEBB about homosexuality, gender equality, and those Game of Thrones rumours…”

Read it all at The Tab meets… Rowan Williams.

The question and answer getting the most media attention is copied below. But there are others.

On the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, do you consider your own views and those of the church as being out of touch with the views of your students at Cambridge, and do you think that’s a problem?

I think it is quite a problem. This is the one area where there is the deepest sense of the church being out of step with what the rest of the culture take for granted. I think it’s quite difficult for some people outside of the church to recognise that there is something in the matter of several thousand years of assumption, reflection and ethical practice here which isn’t likely to be overturned in a moment. But, all that being said, I think the church has to put its hands up and say our attitude towards gay people has at times been appallingly violent. Even now it can be unconsciously patronising and demeaning, and that really doesn’t help. We have to face the fact that we’ve deeply failed a lot of gay and lesbian people, not only historically but more recently as well. I think that there is a very strong, again theological, case for thinking again about our attitudes towards homosexuality: but I’m a bit hesitant about whether marriage is the right category to talk about same sex relation, and I think there is a debate we haven’t quite had about that. But in a sense that’s water under the bridge, the decision has been taken, things move on. Looking back over my time as Archbishop I think that’s what most people will remember about the last ten years: ‘oh, he was that bloke who was so bogged down in issues about sexuality’.

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Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier elected to attend House of Bishops

The election of another of the eight women to attend the House of Bishops has been announced by the Diocese of Lichfield. She is the Revd Dr Jane Tillier and joins the three other women whose election was announced last month.

The Lichfield announcement is copied below the fold.

The official press release from the Church of England announcing the first three names was dated 26 September 2013 and stated “The results for the elections in the 5 other regions are expected to be announced over the next two weeks.” Almost three weeks later four remain to be announced.


I have heard unofficially that Annette Cooper, the Archdeacon of Colchester, was elected for the Eastern region.

Local vicar elected to attend House of Bishops

Revd Preb Dr Jane Tillier was elected on 10th October to represent the West Midlands at the House of Bishops. She is one of eight women nationwide who will attend the House of Bishops as Regional Representatives, a new role open only to female clergy.

Prebendary Tillier was elected by the West Midlands Regional Electoral College, comprising ten women from five dioceses: Worcester, Hereford, Birmingham, Coventry and Lichfield.

“Our God is indeed a God of surprises!” Tillier said. “I am honoured and delighted to be entrusted with this regional role at such an exciting time in the history of the Church of England. My hope and prayer is that the presence of the eight women reps at meetings of the House of Bishops will be good news both for our senior male colleagues and for the world we serve in Jesus’ name.”

In a joint statement, the electoral college members said: “We met in a spirit of prayerful discernment, and had an open conversation about our hopes for the life and wellbeing of the whole church, listening attentively to each other, and to the Spirit of God. It was a privilege and joy to be part of it, and the constructive and optimistic conversation demonstrated that we are in a very different position to where we were at the time of the General Synod vote last year. We are grateful for the Bishops’ decision to admit eight women to their meetings and we recognise the opportunity this gives to re-imagine the church.”

Prebendary Tillier will attend her first meeting of the House of Bishops in December. The House of Bishops is one of the three Houses of the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England.

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Parliament asks about episcopal appointments

Yesterday in the House of Lords, some questions were asked about the appointment of Church of England bishops. The Hansard record of that is to be found here, and is copied below the fold.

The answer given about the number of current vacancies seems a little incomplete. Here’s what Peter Owen wrote towards the end of September: Forthcoming episcopal appointments. In addition to the five vacancies for which CNC dates had been allocated, he lists four other dioceses where vacancies were already known to be about to occur.

All nine vacancies now have dates listed on the CNC’s web page (including dates for Bath & Wells which have already taken place).

Church of England: Appointment of Bishops


3.02 pm

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Church of England about the procedure for the appointment of bishops in the Church of England.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the current procedure for the appointment of bishops to the Church of England was agreed by the previous Government in 2008 after consultation with the church and the publication of a White Paper, The Governance of Britain. There have been no further discussions between the Government and the church on this issue since 2008 and the Government see no need to initiate any such discussions.

Lord Trefgarne (Con): My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. Is it not the case that bishops are retiring faster than they are being appointed? In a little while, there will be none at all. If the most reverend Primate’s diary is so congested that he cannot find time for additional meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission, would it not be a good idea to reappoint the noble Lord, Lord Luce, who chaired that committee so effectively when it came to choosing the most reverend Primate?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am informed that there are currently four vacancies for diocesan bishops and two forthcoming retirements. There is

14 Oct 2013 : Column 265

also the issue of the new combined diocese of Leeds. I accept that the Church of England has a rather lengthy consultation procedure before new bishops are appointed. I spoke to the joint secretaries of the Crown Nominations Commission last week, who were in Hereford consulting members of the diocese on the nature and needs of the diocese and thus the characteristics they wanted in a new bishop. That seems entirely desirable. I understand that in the diocese of Guildford, with which the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will be concerned, the bishop is due to retire at the end of November. It is likely that his successor, after this consultation, will be agreed in June or July next year.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, what assistance are Her Majesty’s Government giving to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in redressing the gender imbalance on the Bishops’ Benches in your Lordships’ House?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Church of England is moving with all deliberate speed towards the appointment of women bishops. I think it quite possible that the first women bishops will be consecrated before we have reached the next stage of House of Lords reform.

Baroness Brinton (LD): My Lords, synthesising the two previous questions, will the Minister tell us how many women clerics are in a senior position in the Church of England? Does he agree that a large number of vacancies might be helpful for the promotion of the majority of very good senior women to bishoprics as and when the Church of England approves their appointment?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: It is desirable that dioceses nevertheless continue to appoint bishops. I know a number of senior women in the Church of England and have a great deal of respect for them. One of them is the wife of my good friend the Vicar of Putney. I have no doubt that in time, the Church of England will have a number of excellent women bishops in the same way that it now has a number of excellent archdeacons, canons, and others from the female sex.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister confirm that one of the great things about Church of England bishops is that their number in this House has an upper limit, whereas coalition Peers seem to be flooding in with no apparent upper limit? Are there any members of the Liberal Democrat Party who are not in the House of Lords?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, did not take the other path appropriate to the Question, which is that the Bench of Bishops is the only section of this Chamber that has an upper age limit, which is 70.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, after that hilarious question from the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, does my noble friend agree with me that it is somewhat unfortunate that Episcopal vacancies are now advertised? Is there not an anti-vocationary element there?

14 Oct 2013 : Column 266

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: It may simply be a useful movement towards transparency. I know there are those who would like the Church of England to remain as it was 150 years ago or more, but as a member of the Church of England, I am extremely happy that it has moved and modernised over the last few years.

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, typically, the Crown Nominations Commission consults some 100 members of civil society in each region to which appointments are made; that legislation to bring forward the possibility of women bishops is now before the General Synod and it is anticipated that it will be brought into law within two years; and that the Archbishop of Canterbury takes a very keen interest in the proceedings of this House, and will take careful note of any concerns about the speed of Episcopal appointments made in the course of this Question Time?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I thank the right reverend Prelate for his question. In consulting when preparing for this Question, I was struck by how many of the people I spoke to said, “You have to understand that the workload of a diocesan bishop is enormous and that some wish to retire before the age of 70 because they feel they have done more than they can sustain for another 10 to 15 years”.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister join me in congratulating the Church of England on all the splendid work that it does in its dioceses, especially with people who are suffering so much under the austerity programme of this Government? Will he also join me in congratulating the Church of Wales on its vote in favour of women bishops?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I am very happy to do so, and I look forward to the Church of England following in good time.

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Monday, 14 October 2013

What Church of England members think

Two articles in the Church Times by Linda Woodhead are now available to non-subscribers.

The first item was referenced in this earlier TA article: Profile of Anglicans. The full text is now available to all here: ‘Nominals’ are the Church’s hidden strength.

THE Church of England’s mission strategies and investment of energy assume that churches and churchgoers are its main resources. But a significant new survey offers a broader answer. It suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies…

…The results suggest that people who identify themselves as Anglican (“Church of England” was not given as an option) make up one third of the adult population of Great Britain. Adherents of all the other religions and Christian denominations added together constitute the next third, and those who say that they have “no religion” are the final slice of the pie.

THE most obvious division within the Anglicans as a whole is between those who say that they participate in a church or Christian group, and those who say that they do not. This gives us robust categories of churchgoers and non-churchgoers, placing those who attend occasional events, such as a wedding or a carol service, on the non-churchgoing side of the line. This non-churchgoing constituency represents 83 per cent of Anglicans, which dwarfs the 17 per cent who go to church.

This might, however, not be bad news for the Church. It is easy to assume that the churchgoers are the “real Anglicans”, and the non-churchgoers are backsliders whose diluted faith is one step away from atheism. The survey reveals something more interesting. Many of the “nominals” are more than purely nominal. Many believe and practise in similar ways to churchgoers - who are themselves not a homogenous group…

More recently, last month, the second article appeared, titled: A gap is growing within the Church. The second article concludes as follows:

…OVERALL, then, if we put together the results of both surveys, a general portrait of Anglicans emerges. They tend to be tough-minded rather than tender-hearted, and they place high value on individual responsibility. They think that people should stand on their own two feet, and be free to make their own mistakes. They believe that less should be spent on welfare, and that the current system needs reform. They value tradition and a common national culture, which they feel to be under threat.

When asked what they value about the Church of England, their favoured response is: “It is integral to English culture,” although churchgoers are slightly more likely to say “it brings people closer to God.”

They look back to a past that they imagine to have been less selfish, better disciplined, and bound by common values - but they have nevertheless embraced changes that have made society fairer to women and gay people.

In short, Anglicans have a good deal in common with the Government. They are in line with The Guardian on personal issues, but the Telegraph or even the Mail on wider social and economic matters.

The gap between this set of values, and those supported by the Church, especially as it is represented by bishops and archbishops, the General Synod, church policy, and official statements - hence what is reported in the media - is wide. In a striking inversion, official church teaching is welfarist-paternalist on social and economic issues, and authoritarian-paternalist on personal ethics. It is the mirror image of majority Anglican opinion.

There is also a values gap between the Church and wider society - a gap that widens as you go down the age range. Young people tend to be centrist in their socio-political views, and highly liberal and egalitarian in their views on personal morality. We already knew that disaffiliation from the Church of England has increased with every generation, but our polling points to an important reason for this.

When asked whether they think the Church of England is a negative or positive force in society today, 60 per cent of under-25s say “neither”, or “don’t know”; and 21 per cent say “negative”. When the “negatives” are asked their reasons, the answer they greatly favour is: “The Church of England is too prejudiced - it discriminates against women and gay people.”

It is foolish for any Church to think that in order to survive it has to follow public opinion, or even the opinion of its own members, affiliates, and sympathisers. But when it is significantly out of step with all of these, questions need to be asked.

The questions are more pressing for a body that wants to remain a national Church with wide social influence rather than a counter-cultural sect. My own suspicion is that church leaders are not being wilfully oppositional. They simply do not have the historic mindset, organisational structures, or investment in research that would enable them to maintain responsive contact even with their own grassroots.

The full dataset for the second survey (PDF, 9 Mb) can be found here. BRIN has a discussion of this here: Secularization Restated and Other News.

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Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York announced today that Canon Phil Potter has been appointed Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are delighted to announce that Canon Phil Potter will be the next Archbishops’ Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions team.

Canon Potter, who is Director of Pioneer Ministry for the Diocese of Liverpool, will succeed Bishop Graham Cray, who has held the posts since 2009. Canon Potter will take up the role at the beginning of April 2014. His appointment has been warmly welcomed by the board of Fresh Expressions and its partners.

Archbishop Justin said: ‘Phil is a skilled and imaginative practitioner whose achievements as a pioneer minister and church builder have been extraordinary. At the same time, I would like to express my deep thanks to Bishop Graham for his five years of distinguished service.

‘I am also excited that the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, will be chairman of the Board of Fresh Expressions.

‘I am grateful to God for the growth we have already seen through Fresh Expressions and for the other denominations with whom this ministry is shared. Working together provides the oxygen of mission and evangelism.’

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: ‘Phil Potter has a strong track record in pioneer ministry in his own Diocese of Liverpool and beyond.

‘I am confident that his leadership of the Fresh Expressions team will strengthen the Church’s mission as both Fresh Expressions and inherited Church work together to proclaim Christ afresh in this and for coming generations. He has my full support and will be in my prayers.’

Lambeth Palace has provided additional information about Phil Potter and Fresh Expressions which is copied below the fold.

Additional information about Phil Potter:

Canon Phil Potter is Director of Pioneer Ministry in the Diocese of Liverpool, and is involved in national and international strategies for promoting new ways of doing church. In the recent past, he has worked as a consultant and speaker in Australia, North America, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Germany.

For 20 years, he was vicar of St Marks Haydock, leading and pastoring the church through many transitions, from being a traditional urban congregation to a large and vibrant mixed economy Cell Church.

Before ordination, Phil worked in retail management and vocational guidance before becoming a professional singer songwriter. Helping to pioneer contemporary worship, he worked and travelled internationally with the late David Watson, leading his team of Christian artists in mission, and recorded four solo albums with Kingsway music.

He has written two books: The Challenge of Change (BRF 2009), and The Challenge of Cell Church (BRF 2001).

Phil is married to Joy, who works as a Deputy Headteacher in Liverpool, and has two children, both working in the music and arts industry. His main interests are music, home design, gardening and small grandchildren.

Notes to editors:

Fresh Expressions is a way of describing the planting of new congregations or churches that are different in ethos and style from the church which planted them, because they aim to reach a different group of people than those already attending the original church. They are established primarily for the benefit of people who have never been to church.

There are at least 2,000 fresh expressions of church in the CofE and Methodist Church. The Church of England’s provisional attendance figures for 2010 were released in January 2012. The statistics included the denomination’s first ‘mapping’ of fresh expressions of church across all dioceses, revealing at least 1,000 fresh expressions and new forms of church.

The national Fresh Expressions team, which Canon Potter will lead, exists to encourage and support the movement which has seen hundreds of new congregations being formed alongside more traditional churches across the UK and internationally.

Fresh Expressions is an ecumenical movement that involves a range of partners, including:

Church of England
Methodist Church of Great Britain
United Reformed Church
Church of Scotland
The Salvation Army
Congregational Federation
Ground Level Network
Church Army
Anglican Church Planting Initiatives
24/7 Prayer

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Saturday, 12 October 2013


Jonathan Clatworthy writes for Modern Church about Bishops and inspirers.

Jennifer Levitz writes in The Wall Street Journal that Churches Take a Stand on Pews, Replacing Them With Chairs.

Watts & Co, the well known London ecclesiastical suppliers, are on a church crawl round London Underground’s Circle Line, starting at St James’s Park. Going clockwise they have reached Edgware Road; the full list is here.

Stanley Hauerwas explains How to write a theological sentence for ABC Religion and Ethics.

Richard Chapman writes that The C of E goes looking for ‘God-doing’ at the party conferences – and comes away impressed on Gillan Scott’s God & Politics in the UK blog.

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian about Darkness as my constant companion.

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about A new way to be a pilgrim.

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Tributes to former Archbishop David Gitari


ACNS reported on 30 September: Archbishop David Gitari, former Kenya Primate dies.

ACNS has republished this obituary of the archbishop by Bishop Graham Kings: Archbishop David Gitari 1937-2013: Evangelist, Prophet, Liturgist and Bridge-Builder.

An earlier article is Archbishop David Gitari: Biblical Interpretation in Action in Kenya.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has written this: Tribute to the late David Gitari.

The Archbishop of Canterbury published this tribute.

Update ACNS has England’s Bishop of Sherborne Dr Graham Kings speaks to BBC World Service about the late Archbishop David Gitari of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

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Public opinion on B&B discrimination is divided by age

Bull and another (Appellants) v Hall and another (Respondents) is being heard at the Supreme Court today.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll has been published, which shows that:

Over 60s and under 50s sharply divided on B&B gay discrimination, new survey shows

An appeal by bed and breakfast owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull is due to be heard by the Supreme Court this week. The Bulls refused on religious grounds to let a double room to a homosexual couple in a civil partnership in 2008, and were ordered by a County Court to pay damages to the couple concerned.

A majority think it is wrong to discriminate

A nationally representative poll carried out by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates finds that the majority of people in Britain (57%) don’t think that B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, whilst a third (33%) think they should and 11% ‘don’t know’. (See appendix for survey question.)

Opinion varies enormously by age

In response to the question of whether B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, 81% of under 24s say they should not, but just 40% of those aged 60 or more agree. Half of those aged 60+ think that B&B owners should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples.

The graph below shows how much opinion differs by age. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be opposed to discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality. Even though gender and religion have an effect in shaping opinion, age is decisive. Thus even amongst those most likely to support discrimination – the strictest believers (who take their authority from God, scriptures, religious sources rather than their own judgement) – the current generation of young people is now opposed…

Follow this link for the graph.

The press release continues:

Most religious people do not think discrimination should be allowed

People who say they belong to a religion also disapprove of discrimination. Asked the question whether B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, the proportion of those in all the major religious groups who say they should not be allowed outweighs the proportion who say it should.

Looking at how opinion varies by strength of belief in God, even the most certain believers are against allowing discrimination (by 49% to 41%), and as you go down the belief scale from certain belief in God to certain atheism, the margin against discrimination increases to 40% (65% to 25%)

Looking at how opinion varies amongst those who regularly participate in a religious group, the more regularly attenders are more likely to be in favour of allowing discrimination. Those who attend at least once a week are in favour by 53% to 36%. The more rarely you attend a religious group the less you are in favour.

Amongst all religious people those most in favour of allowing discrimination are the small group who look to God (48% to 36%), scripture (50% to 37%), or traditions/teachings of religion (49% to 35%) for their main authority in life.

And there is more.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Kenya

Lambeth Palace has issued this press release:

Archbishop to visit Kenya to offer solidarity
Monday 7th October 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit Nairobi on 19 and 20 October as a guest of the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Eliud Wabukala.

The purpose of the visit, which has been arranged at short notice, is to be in solidarity with the Kenyan people following the attack on the Westgate shopping mall last month.

The programme of the visit is not yet confirmed.

The Archbishop was invited to speak at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which takes place between 21 October and 26 October in Nairobi.

He was unable to attend because of long-standing diary commitments, including the baptism of Prince George. He will, however, record a video greeting, which will be broadcast to delegates at the start of the conference.

The Archbishop is also continuing to hold in prayer the people of Peshawar, Syria, and all those in troubled parts of the world.

Earlier today GAFCON had issued this press release:

GAFCON and the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit GAFCON primates just before the opening of GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi.

GAFCON Primates are holding a two day meeting, then 1200 leaders and lay people from the UK, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South America will fly in to Nairobi for the Global Anglican Future Conference starting on Monday, October 21st.

GAFCON Chairman Eliud Wabukala invited Archbishop Justin Welby to send greetings to the conference and he indicated he was unable to do so in person because of commitments during the week. His office has since confirmed he will make a flying visit to speak with the Primates.

The general secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr Peter Jensen, says “The Archbishop’s decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”

Posted October 7, 2013

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Bishops' working costs for 2012

Bishops’ Office and Working Costs for 2012 have been published today, along with this press release.

Bishops’ Office and Working Costs Published

The 2012 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001.

The costs of their offices and the work of the bishops for 2012 was £20.0 million compared to a cost of £19.5 million in 2011, an annual increase of 2.5%.

This figure includes the work of the two Archbishops and the 113 bishops in the Church of England - 44 diocesan (leading) bishops and 69 suffragan (deputy) and fulltime assistant bishops, including area bishops and provincial episcopal visitors.

Included within the 2012 figure is approximately £2.8 million for legal costs during the year. House running costs for all bishops as a total was just over 750,000.

An annual block grant is made by the Church Commissioners to diocesan bishops to cover the bishops’ stipends, staff and working costs. The bishops determine how their funding is used. The Commissioners’ Board of Governors agreed to increase funding for the Archbishops by 2 per cent and for the bishops by 4 per cent, year on year for the 2011-2013 triennium.

Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2012 are published on the Church of England website at:

The media have been sent this additional Note to Editors.

  • The report includes a description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.
  • The 113 diocesan and suffragan bishops of the Church of England institute and support the ministry of all clergy and lay ministers in their dioceses, as well as providing pastoral support to them. Each diocesan bishop has ultimate oversight of several hundred clergy, Readers and lay workers and of a diocesan budget and portfolio of assets.
  • In addition to diocesan responsibilities, such as ordinations and diocesan festivals, and engaging with the communities which they serve, bishops often chair or serve on national and international Church boards and councils, as well as large charities, special commissions or public inquiries. They are involved in the growing work towards visible unity with other denominations both nationally and internationally and in work with other faiths.
  • Twenty-six diocesan bishops sit in the House of Lords: at least one is present every day and others will attend according to the subjects under debate that day. The Bishop of Sodor & Man sits in the Tynwald.

Costs for earlier years are available here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 7 October 2013 at 1:18pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 6 October 2013

OFSTED criticises Religious Education in English schools

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) has issued a report on Religious Education in English schools.

You can find the full report text, and a summary, on this page. OFSTED itself says:

Religious education (RE) makes a significant contribution to pupils’ academic and personal development. It also plays a key role in promoting social cohesion and the virtues of respect and empathy, which are important in our diverse society. However, the potential of RE was not being realised fully in the majority of the schools surveyed for this report.

The report identifies barriers to better RE and suggests ways in which the subject might be improved. The report is written for all those who teach RE, for those who lead the subject, and for headteachers of primary and secondary schools.

The key findings of the report are copied in full below the fold.

The Church of England issued this statement:

The Revd Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England’s Chief Education officer has issued a statement in response to today’s publication from Ofsted Religious education: realising the potential which says that schools and the government have failed to focus effectively on religious education.

“It is no comfort to us that Ofsted’s detailed report on the state of Religious Education in this country’s schools confirms all the messages we have been giving the Secretary of State over the last two years. The Report places the blame for poor standards squarely on government policy. In particular the removal of support and squeeze on places for training RE teachers is a scandal and will take years to reverse. RE is still core curriculum in Church schools and we repeat our offer to the Mr Gove to work with him and the whole RE community to improve commitment and competence in this essential part of every child’s education.”

Media coverage is extensive:

Telegraph Ofsted: Christianity sidelined in poor quality RE lessons

Independent Ofsted says religious education teaching ‘not good enough’

BBC Over half of schools failing in religious education, says Ofsted

Observer Church of England attacks Michael Gove over state of religious education

Mail on Sunday The pupils who are so badly taught they don’t even know who Jesus was

Express Schools failing pupils on RE

The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday also covered it at length, starting about 30 minutes in.

Key findings:

  • Weaknesses in provision for RE meant that too many pupils were leaving school
    with low levels of subject knowledge and understanding.
  • Achievement and teaching in RE in the 90 primary schools visited were less than
    good in six in 10 schools.
  • Achievement and teaching in RE in the 91 secondary schools visited were only
    good or better in just under half of the schools. The picture was stronger at Key
    Stage 4 and in the sixth form than at Key Stage 3.
  • Most of the GCSE teaching seen failed to secure the core aim of the examination
    specifications: that is, to enable pupils ‘to adopt an enquiring, critical and
    reflective approach to the study of religion’.
  • The provision made for GCSE in the majority of the secondary schools surveyed
    failed to provide enough curriculum time for pupils to extend and deepen their
    learning sufficiently.
  • The teaching of RE in primary schools was not good enough because of
    weaknesses in teachers’ understanding of the subject, a lack of emphasis on
    subject knowledge, poor and fragmented curriculum planning, very weak
    assessment, ineffective monitoring and teachers’ limited access to effective
  • The way in which RE was provided in many of the primary schools visited had the
    effect of isolating the subject from the rest of the curriculum. It led to low-level
    learning and missed opportunities to support pupils’ learning more widely, for
    example, in literacy.
  • The quality of teaching in the secondary schools visited was rarely outstanding
    and was less than good in around half of the lessons seen. Common weaknesses
    included: insufficient focus on subject knowledge; an over-emphasis on a limited
    range of teaching strategies that focused simply on preparing pupils for
    assessments or examinations; insufficient opportunity for pupils to reflect and
    work independently; and over-structured and bureaucratic lesson planning with a
    limited focus on promoting effective learning.
  • Although the proportion of pupils taking GCSE and GCE examinations in RE
    remains high, in 2011 nearly 250 schools and academies did not enter any pupils
    for an accredited qualification in GCSE.
  • Around half of the secondary schools visited in 2011 and 2012 had changed, or
    were planning to change, their curriculum provision for RE in response to changes
    in education policy. The impact of these changes varied but it was rarely being
    monitored carefully.
  • Assessment in RE remained a major weakness in the schools visited. It was
    inadequate in a fifth of the secondary schools and a third of the primary schools.
    Many teachers were confused about how to judge how well pupils were doing in
  • Access to high-quality RE training for teachers was poor. Training had a positive
    impact on improving provision in only a third of the schools visited; its impact was
    poor in a further third. Many of the schools surveyed said that support from their
    local authority and SACRE had diminished.
  • Leadership and management of RE were good or better in half the schools
    visited; however, weaknesses were widespread in monitoring provision for RE
    and in planning to tackle the areas identified for improvement.
  • The effectiveness of the current statutory arrangements for RE varies
    considerably. Recent changes in education policy are having a negative impact on
    the provision for RE in some schools and on the capacity of local authorities and
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 6 October 2013 at 8:55am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Republic of South Africa passed its Civil Union Act in 2006. This permits same-sex relationships to be registered as either civil partnerships or as marriages.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (a province which encompasses Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the island of St Helena) issued this press release (among others) on Friday: Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged its bishops to provide guidelines for giving pastoral care to same-sex couples who have entered civil unions under South African law.

The Church’s ruling Provincial Synod, currently meeting in Benoni, South Africa, on Friday adopted a resolution urging its Synod of Bishops to finalise guidelines “as soon as possible”.

The Church neither marries same-sex couples, nor ordains or licenses priests or deacons who live in same-sex unions. This is in line with the practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

However, in the words of the Right Revd Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, during a debate at the Synod, “civil unions are a reality, whether we like it or not.”

Proposing the resolution, Bishop Breytenbach acknowledged he was on the “conservative” side of the debate. But, he continued, all God’s people needed pastoral care and “we have people in our church who are same-gender couples who regard themselves as married, even though I find it difficult to accept.”

The Right Revd Garth Counsell of Table Bay – from the diocese of Cape Town, which is seen as more open to recognising same-sex marriage – said the resolution was “not talking about same sex- marriage or whether we will do that or not.” It was rather about “confronting legal reality”…

The full text of the resolution is included in the release and is copied below the fold.

This Synod

1 Noting

1The progress that has been made by the Synod of Bishops and various Dioceses in developing guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions, and to those who experience themselves as homosexual;

2 That we have accepted Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 as the basis for our engagement with the issues of human sexuality

3 That we are still not of one mind on these matters.

2 Affirms:

1 That God calls us to love and minister to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, while at the same time upholding God’s standards of holiness;

2 That this is a highly complex and emotive area which affects many people deeply and has a far reaching impact on the mission of the Church.

3 Commits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

1 To journey together in humility and mutual respect as we seek God’s mind on the difficult issues of human sexuality;

2 To continue to engage in a process of listening to the whole variety of experiences and viewpoints so as to increase our understanding of these issues;

4 Resolves to

1 Respectfully request the Synod of Bishops to work towards finalising the Guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions as soon as possible.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 12:30pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Mathew Guest writes about University and the Christian faith: revisiting the relationship. A version of this article appeared in the Church Times on 13 September where it is only available to subscribers.
There is also this article about work by Dr Guest and his colleagues: Church faces “difficult decision” to engage liberal Christian students.

John L Allen Jr writes in The Spectator about The war on Christians.

Vicky Beeching interviews Kate Cooper and asks her Have women been airbrushed out of Church history?

Milton Jones asks is Christianity weird? in a video for the Guardian.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 October 2013 at 11:00am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Communion News Service has announced today that Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Its Provincial Synod today unanimously voted to ratify the decision taken at its previous meeting in 2010 to adopt the Covenant. This completes the legal process.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, proposed the motion. Addressing the Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, Johannesburg, he emphasised ACSA’s commitment to being at the heart of Anglican life, often acting as a bridge-builder, and drawing on its own experiences of living with considerable diversity and wrestling with difference.

Seconding the motion, the Dean of the Province, Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal, quoted from the Introduction to the Covenant:

6. To covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith. Rather, we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ (2 Cor 1.20-22).

With debate only addressing a minor wording amendment, the motion was passed without dissent.

The text of the motion is given below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

This Synod

1. Notes ­the adoption of the Anglican Covenant at the Provincial Synod of 2010;

2. Recommits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ;

3. Reaffirms its belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant:

We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these following affirmations and commitments. As people of God, drawn from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7.9), we do this in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4.3,13).

4. Resolves to confirm its adoption of the Anglican Covenant.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 October 2013 at 1:19pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 October 2013

GAFCON 2013 goes ahead in Nairobi

Despite the recent violence in Nairobi, the second GAFCON conference is going ahead there, see GAFCON II is a go.

Anglican Mainstream has published the following: Why GAFCON 2013 and What is FCA? Full text copied below the fold.

Some other articles related to this:

Vinay Samuel An Overview of the Anglican Communion Today – From communion to coalition.

Bob Bettson ANALYSIS: Anglican Communion faces troubled waters

Sue Careless Reviving Communion

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala Chairman’s September Pastoral Letter

And for a different perspective, see Bosco Peters GAFCON.

Our previous reports on GAFCON related items were:

from Anglican Mainstream:

For information for those who have been asking what the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is, and why the Gafcon 2013 conference is taking place this month in Nairobi

Statement from the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK & Ireland, including the Diocese of Europe)

WHY GAFCON 2013? A conference in Nairobi, 21-26 October 2013, of FCA leaders, lay and ordained from across the world, representing the majority of Anglicans in the Communion. We will

  • Address current challenges to the faith (persecution and poverty, militant Islamism, aggressive secularism);
  • Listen to each other and support the most vulnerable among us (physically that’s the Africans, spiritually that’s us);
  • Make plans and decisions together, praise and mourn together, pray and resolve together;
  • Return to our churches stimulated, encouraged and resourced for mission.

WHAT IS FCA? A global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans who believe the Anglican Communion is worth preserving. The challenges to today’s church are huge, the stakes are high, but our resolve is determined – and the Communion’s best days could still be in the future. FCA will be at the heart of them. We are committed to

  • Serve the Anglican Communion with its wonderful history and its self-governing provinces, held together by a common Christian faith and deep bonds of spiritual fellowship, shared mission and exchange of ministry across the world;
  • Offer the strongest, some would say the only, effective remaining glue that holds this precious unity intact, now that the structural four instruments no longer do the job;
  • Promote a dynamic mission, and counter inauthentic expressions that depart from a biblically ordered faith.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 October 2013 at 8:44am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Update on Peshawar casualties

Titus Presler has published this Peshawar All Saints’ update: bomb casualty toll; funds appeal; other bombings.

In a conversation from Peshawar today, Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters of the Diocese of Peshawar said that the confirmed death toll from the bombing at All Saints’ Church on Sept. 22 in the old section of the city stands at 127, with 170 injured.

“It has been just devastating,” he said. “Quite a few children are paralyzed, and others are orphaned. This is a terrible time for the Christian community.” Financial assistance is urgently needed to support the families of the dead and injured, he said.

Government officials, including the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and federal ministers, have visited in order to express concern and condolence. The bishop has met with them either at All Saints’, where he has been based over the week, or at his home on the grounds of St. John’s Cathedral.

Yesterday’s car bomb in Qissa Khawani bazaar was detonated nearby while the All Saints’ congregation was again at worship on the first week’s anniversary of the Sept. 22 bomb. “People were in a panic, and there was such a rush,” Bp. Humphrey said, “but after about 25 minutes we were able to get them settled and resume the service.” The bomb killed 40 people and was reported to have exploded about 300 yards from All Saints’, near a mosque and a police station. On Friday, 19 people died when a bomb planted on a bus carrying government employees exploded in the outskirts of Peshawar.

Today’s confirmed count of 127 dead and 170 wounded from the Sept. 22 bomb is lower than the initial reports of 150 dead and 200 wounded, but it is considerably higher than the figure of 85 dead that is being circulated by global news media. Peshawar’s overall death toll from bomb blasts for the week is 176…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 at 4:05pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Assessing the evidence on faith schools

Updated Wednesday

Theos has published a report: More than an Educated Guess: Assessing the evidence on faith schools.

The Bishop of Oxford has welcomed the report: Bishop of Oxford welcomes report by think-tank Theos on faith schools.

The full text of the report can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Theos says:

The Church pioneered mass education in Britain but over the last ten years, as the ‘church school´ sector has morphed into ‘faith schools’, the role of religious groups and institutions within the education sector has become highly contentious.

Much of the debate is by nature ideological, revolving around the relative rights and responsibilities of parents, schools and government in a liberal and plural society. Invariably, however, ideological positions draw on evidence pertaining to the actual experience and impact of ‘faith schools’. Questions like – Are‘faith schools’ socially divisive? Are they exclusive and/or elitist? Is there a special faith school effect on pupils? Is there anything distinct about the educational experience offered by faith schools? – become key to the debate.

Unfortunately, this significance is not always matched by subtlety, with the answers given and conclusions drawn frequently going beyond what the evidence actually says. More than an Educated Guess attempts to give an honest and accurate picture of what the evidence does say. Drawing on an extensive range of studies on faith schools in England, the report shows that, while there is evidence about their social and educational impact, it is rarely simple or straightforward, and that conclusions drawn from it should be tentative – certainly, more tentative than they have been of late. Ultimately, the authors argue, we need to be more honest about what the evidence says, and should avoid treating faith schools as a proxy debate for the wider question of faith and secularism in public life.

More than an Educated Guess will be an essential contribution to a major public conversation, which will make uncomfortable reading for participants on each side of the debate.

John Bingham at the Telegraph has written: Faith schools protests dragging children into ideological ‘battleground’ - bishop. He quotes Andrew Copson of the BHA as saying:

“Although the report masquerades as a new, impartial, survey of evidence surrounding faith schools, it is in fact mere apologetics in favour of such schools.

“The report omits evidence, misrepresents evidence and even makes basic errors about types of school and types of data that totally undermine any attempt to take it seriously…”


The British Humanist Association has now published a detailed criticism of the report, which can be read in full as a PDF here, or see this article: Worse than an educated guess: BHA responds to Theos report on ‘faith’ schools.

Theos has responded to this, with More than an Educated Guess: a Response to the British Humanist Association or there is a fuller document available as a PDF here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 at 12:42pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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