Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bishop of Basingstoke

Press release from the Prime Minster’s Office.

Suffragan Bishop of Basingstoke: David Grant Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 June 2014
Part of: Arts and culture

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams, BSc, Vicar of Christ Church, Winchester, in the Diocese of Winchester, and Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke, in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, MA, on his translation to the See of Bath and Wells on 4 March 2014.

Reverend Canon David Williams

The Revd Canon David Williams (aged 53) studied Social Policy at Bristol University and after some years working with CMS in Kenya, trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy in the Diocese of Sheffield at All Saints, Ecclesall from 1989 to 1992 after which he became Vicar of Dore, an adjacent parish. He was made Rural Dean of Ecclesall in 1997 and served in this role until moving south in 2002. During these years he was also a Chaplain at Aldine House Secure Children’s Home.

Moving to the Diocese of Winchester in 2002, he became Vicar of Christ Church Winchester and was made an Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral in 2012. He was elected to General Synod in 2010 and became Chair of the House of Clergy of Winchester Diocesan Synod in 2012.

David grew up in Uganda and retains strong links with East Africa. He is married to Helen and they have 2 children, Sarah (25) and Mark (22). David owns a small racing yacht and spends days off sailing in the Solent. Together with his son, Mark, he also completed 2 long motorbike journeys across Eastern and Central Africa in 2010 and 2012.

The Bishop-designate said today:

“During the 13 years Helen and I have lived and worked in Winchester, we have grown to love the church and its people and are very much looking forward to serving in a wider context across the diocese. We look forward to welcoming many to our new home and to sharing in the life and ministry of the people of God here.”

The Winchester diocesan website has A new Bishop for Basingstoke in which it is stated that “The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that David’s consecration as Bishop of Basingstoke will take place at Winchester Cathedral, the first consecration in the city for many years.”

Consecrations in the Canterbury province normally take place in London at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or Southwark Cathedral. Readers may know where and when the last one was held elsewhere.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 2:52pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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opinion

Paul Valleley asks Is Christian unity anything more than a pious aspiration?
This is the uncut version of an article in The Independent.

Jonathan Clatworthy writes on the Modern Church Blog about Spreading the Word – a liberal response.

Eric Hatfield writes about Sermons – not how we learn best?

Gillan Scott blogs Without a moral compass British values lose their way and now we’re seeing the consequences.

Sam Norton blogs Remorseless logic and a Bishop’s rest.

Benjamin J Dueholm explains Why I kiss my stole.

Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian that Using schools to boost the military ethos could be making a comeback.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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The CofE, Ethical Investment - and Wonga

Yesterday’s second distribution of General Synod papers included the annual report of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. Also published was this press release.

Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened
27 June 2014

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.

Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”

The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies - including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.

Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.

“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”

Press reports include:

Ben Quinn The Guardian Wonga: Church of England advised by ethics review to keep its stake

Alex Blackburne Blue & Green Tomorrow Church of England reduces exposure to ‘sin stocks’ after ethical investment review

Christian Today Wonga controversy leads to changes in Church of England’s investment policies

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 10:28am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Oxford Faith Debates: The Future of the Church of England

The organisation that brought you the Westminster Faith Debates now brings you a new series of five debates specifically about the Church of England.

They will be held in Oxford, at the University Church, on Thursdays in October, November and December, from 5.30 pm to 7 pm, under the overall title The Future of the Church of England. Click on each link below for details of the speakers.

Thursday 9 October PARISHES – What future for the Parochial System?

Thursday 23 October HERITAGE – How can Buildings, Endowments and Pensions become Assets not Burdens?

Thursday 6 November PEOPLE – How can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the Future?

Thursday 20 November DIVERSITY – What kind of Unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, How can Diversity become a strength?

Thursday 4 December VISION – What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 8:38am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 June 2014

Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

The House of Bishops’ plans for Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission in the Church of England were issued today in a paper (GS Misc 1083) circulated to General Synod papers. I have made a webpage version available here.

These conversations are what the Pilling Report called “facilitated conversations”. They will start in the College of Bishops in September, then move to groups of dioceses and end with two days of conversations in General Synod in July 2016. The paper gives full details of who will be involved and how they will be supported.

The Church of England has issued this press release.

Next steps in shared conversation process published
27 June 2014

The Church of England has today published the next steps in its process for shared conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

A short paper from the Bishop of Sheffield outlines the next steps for the Church following the publication of the Pilling report in November 2013 which recommended that the church’s internal dialogue on human sexuality might be best addressed through a process of conversations across the Church.

The outlines of the process were approved by the House of Bishops at its meeting in May and are published today.

The document has been sent to members of the Church’s General Synod ahead of its meeting in York from 11 -15 July.

The document can be found online here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 11:37am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 June 2014

"To Have and To Hold" - the theology of marriage

The LGBTI Anglican Coalition is hosting a one-day conference on the theology of marriage in the light of equal marriage, at St John’s Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY on Saturday 27th September, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Download the flyer, with booking details, here or go directly to Eventbrite.

Recognising current unease in the Church of England over same-sex marriage, the conference will ask whether there is a theological basis for expanding the definition of marriage. If so, what might a theology of equal marriage include?

The conference is intended to help the discussion around inclusive marriage. Leading contemporary thinkers and theologians will present their understanding of the history and current understanding of the theology of marriage.

Keynote speakers Adrian Thatcher and Charlotte Methuen will ask whether it’s legitimate to include same-sex relationships in the definition of marriage, and, if so, how that might affect the church’s attitude and practice? Workshops will look at specific questions - for instance, the Bishop of Buckingham and Revd. Rosie Harper will ask how patriarchy has affected our understanding of marriage, and Scot Peterson will consider how the church is affected by the new law permitting same-sex marriage.

The conference is intended for all who are interested in this debate - bishops, theological educators, laity and clergy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 9:28pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Conferences | equality legislation

News about civil partnerships and marriage

Updated Friday morning

The Minister for Equalities, Sajid Javid , has announced the date from which those in civil partnerships will be able to convert them into marriages, if they so wish. The date is 10 December. The announcement was made in an article for Pink News: Sajid Javid: I am pleased to announce that couples can soon convert civil partnerships to marriage.

We’ve made the process of conversion as straightforward as possible. Couples will simply have to attend a Register Office and sign a declaration that they both wish to convert their Civil Partnership to a marriage in front of the Superintendent Registrar. That’s it.

Mr Javid also said:

From 10 December there is also good news for married transgender people. You will now be able to change your legal gender without ending your marriage, provided you and your husband or wife agree to remain married.

Also today the Government Equalities Office published the results of their consultation on the future of civil partnerships. The report can be found here.

This is the report on the conclusions of the review of civil partnership in England and Wales required under section 15 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. It includes a summary of the responses to the consultation which was carried out as part of the review. Given the lack of consensus on the way forward for civil partnership, the Government will not be making any changes.

So civil partnerships will continue to be available, but only to same-sex couples.

And the Ministry of Justice started a consultation on Marriages by non-religious belief organisations.

Section 14 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 requires a review to be carried out of whether the law should be changed to permit marriages by non-religious belief organisations.

The consultation asks if there is a substantial case for changing the law to establish non-religious belief ceremonies. This would allow a third type of legal ceremony, alongside religious and civil ceremonies, for getting married in England and Wales.

Section 14 defines a belief organisation as ‘an organisation whose principal or sole purpose is the advancement of a system of non-religious beliefs which relate to morality or ethics’.

The consultation also seeks views on

  • which non-religious belief organisations are capable of meeting the definition
  • where, if allowed, such marriages would take place
  • the provision of safeguards to deal with any resulting risks
  • the equality impacts. 

There is further discussion of these announcements, and some others, at Law & Religion UK in Same sex marriage and civil partnership: update.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 9:00pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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The CofE, banks, credit unions and payday lenders

Archbishop Justin Welby delivered a lecture on The future of banking standards and ethics at New City Agenda, House of Lords, Westminster on Tuesday 17 June. The text is now available online: Archbishop’s lecture on the future of banking standards.
The Financial Times has two reports by Martin Arnold: Archbishop of Canterbury warns banks are still ‘too big to fail’ and Archbishop warns on return of loan sharks

Jill Treanor writes in The Guardian about Church of England’s unholy mess over Wonga stake This refers to earlier reports that “selling the £100,000 stake would result in a loss of between £3m and £9m”.

General Synod will have a presentation on the proposed Churches’ Mutual Credit Union on Sunday 13 July. This background note was issued to Synod members at the end of last week. The Business Committee report has this preview of the presentation.

This will take the form of a presentation under S0 97 by the Revd Canon Antony MacRow Wood and Hilary Sams, the President and CEO Designate respectively of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (‘CMCU’). Their presentation will outline the plans for the launch of this new credit union for clergy. Those eligible to join will be the clergy, trustees and staff of the Anglican churches and charities in Britain and the ministers, trustees and staff of the Church of Scotland and the Methodist church. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of churches charities. It will also help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and contribute to the rebuilding of the mutual sector as a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status.

The Independent has two articles about CMCU:
Jamie Merrill Church of England to open credit union in its ‘war on Wonga’
Simon Read Church’s credit union continues Welby’s ‘war on Wonga’ but more help for all needed

Meanwhile payday lender Wonga is in the news for another reason.
Rupert Jones The Guardian Wonga to pay £2.6m compensation for fake debt firm letters
and Wonga’s fake legal letters passed to police
Jim Armitage The Independent Wonga scandal and subsequent let-off calls for a full parliamentary inquiry
Katherine Rushton The Telegraph Wonga to pay £2.6m compensation for fake legal letters

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 3:17pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Supreme Court judgment on right to die

Updated Friday

The UK Supreme Court yesterday handed down its judgment in the assisted suicide (or “right to die”) case. The full judgment and summaries are available online.

Judgment (PDF)
Judgment (html)
Press summary (PDF)
Watch Lord Neuberger’s summary of the judgment on YouTube

Newspaper and other reports include:

Rosalind English UK Human Rights Blog Supreme Court rejects right to die appeals
John Bingham The Telegraph Supreme Court rejects right to die bid but challenges Parliament to review law
Owen Boycott The Guardian Assisted suicide campaigners fail to get supreme court to overturn ban
BBC News Campaigners lose ‘right to die’ case
Kathleen Hall The Law Society Gazette Supreme Court dismisses ‘right to die’ appeal
Brian Farmer The Independent Right-to-die: Supreme Court rules against assisted suicide

The Church of England has issued this statement.

Statement on Supreme Court judgement
25 June 2014
In response to ruling on the cases of Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson, and ‘Martin’

Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy, National Adviser: Medical Ethics and Health and Social Care Policy for the Archbishops’ Council, said:

“We welcome the judgment of the Supreme Court and the emphasis it has placed on the need for the law to protect vulnerable individuals.

“We remain convinced that the current law and the DPP guidelines for its application provide a compassionate framework within which difficult cases can be assessed while continuing to ensure that many vulnerable individuals are given much needed protection from coercion or abuse.

“We recognise the distress that this judgment will cause some individuals but we believe that any other judgment would have resulted in even greater distress for even greater numbers of people.”

Reactions from church groups and others include:

Press Association Reactions to right-to-die ruling
Dan Bergin Independent Catholic News Campaigners welcome court judgements on assisted suicide
Alex Stevenson politics.co.uk Right-to-die campaigners are wasting their time
Editorial in The Guardian The Guardian view on parliament and assisted suicide

Update
The Church Times has a report on the judgement from its legal correspondent Shiranikha Herbert: Judges not persuaded by ‘right to die’ appellants.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:19am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Bishop of Norwich's "blacklist"

Updated Wednesday morning

The following statement has appeared on the Church of England website today [Tuesday].

Statement in relation to weekend press reports

24 June 2014

“The recent press report that the Bishop of Norwich has been asked to keep a blacklist of clergy who marry same sex partners is untrue. The House of Bishops agreed in February to establish a small informal monitoring and reference group which is available to diocesan bishops who may wish for information or advice. The group has no formal powers. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York asked the Bishop of Norwich to chair the group and for the Bishops of Sheffield and Willesden to be members.”

That is the complete text.

Update

David Pocklington has written about this at Law & Religion in Marriage of clergy to same-sex partners. As he had explained earlier:

Permission to Officiate is issued under Canon C 8 (3) entirely at the discretion of the bishop, creates no employment-like rights, and can be withdrawn at the absolute discretion of the bishop without the need for a disciplinary process. In contrast, Canon Pemberton is employed as Deputy Senior Chaplain with the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust in the diocese of Lincoln, under the Extra-Parochial Ministry Measure 1967, for which he holds a licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. However, although employed by the hospital, that employment is generally dependent upon the Bishop’s licence which can only be terminated following a disciplinary process, s8(2) Clergy Discipline Measure 2003. No public announcement has been made regarding this licence.

And he now comments:

The CofE statement has been greeted with scepticism by some of those commenting on the Thinking Anglican report of the announcement. Against such concerns, however, it would be unusual if the Church had not established a group to monitor developments in a sensitive area such as this, and would be subject to criticism if it did not adopt a consistent approach in the interpretation of the House of Bishops Statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage: there is a degree of uncertainty in the sanctions that may be applied under ecclesiastical law and a further degree of complexity is added through the range of possible employment situations as these current examples demonstrate.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 4:08pm BST | Comments (57) | TrackBack
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Monday, 23 June 2014

CofE clergy and same-sex marriage

Updated Tuesday

There were reports this weekend of some developments in the cases of clergy entering same-sex marriages:

Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre First clergyman who flouted the Church of England’s gay marriage ban is fired by his bishop

Guardian Andrew Brown Second priest defies Church of England to marry his same sex partner

BBC Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton faces service ban

Independent Church of England tells same-sex married clergyman Canon Jeremy Pemberton to stop leading services

Telegraph First gay priest to marry banned from working as a priest in his diocese

Pink News UK: First gay clergy to marry ‘fired’ by Bishop

Blog:

Changing Attitude Bishop acts against married gay priest

Updates

Religion News Service via the Washington Post Trevor Grundy Gay Anglican priest’s license is revoked after he marries

Nottingham Post Gay priest banned from working in Nottinghamshire after marrying his long-term partner

BBC Radio Lincolnshire has an extended discussion of the matter in this programme, starting at 2 hours, 10 minutes, and running for about 12 minutes. Recommended if you have the time.

Blog:

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Punishing married gay clergy is Church of England own goal

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:22am BST | Comments (85) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 21 June 2014

opinion

Archdruid Eileen has 15 Effective Habits of Successful Church Leaders.

Christopher Lamb interviews the Archbishop of Canterbury for The Tablet: Two traditions, one holy ground.

Richard Beck asks How Many People Die By Handling Snakes?.

Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph about Securing Pugin’s medieval island.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Poverty Sunday

Sunday 22 June is Poverty Sunday, a campaign run by the Church Urban Fund. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and a trustee of the CUF, urges churches to pray and to pledge to act.

There’s always something ambivalent in a Franciscan writing about tackling poverty. St Francis, though born into one of the wealthiest families in the town of Assisi, gave up everything. He spoke of ‘Lady Poverty’ in the same language that the romantic troubadours and medieval knights would use to describe the earthly ‘Lady’ to whom they offered utter devotion. But then there is huge difference between that poverty which is freely embraced, in order to enjoy release from material concerns, and the poverty which is forced upon an individual or household.

Francis and his followers in fact did much to alleviate this latter. And in tackling it they challenged one of the worst aspects of how poverty was viewed at the time, they made no distinction between the deserving and the undeserving. Lepers in particular, who were commonly thought to have brought their plight and consequent destitution upon themselves, were at the heart of the ministry of the first group of Franciscan brothers.

What saddens me most, as I reflect upon the present attitude to poverty in the UK, is that this false distinction seems once again to lie at the heart of social policy, and to be accepted as such both by government parties and by the mainstream opposition. Were it genuinely an issue of affordability, that the costs of supporting some who could be identified as undeserving were such a large portion of the welfare budget, then I would understand it from an economic perspective, even whilst deprecating it as theologically deficient. But that patently is not the case. The costs of treating our poorest people better, of treating all poverty as a reality not a sin, represent a very small proportion of the budget. They could probably be met if the five largest global companies from among those who avoid almost all UK corporate taxes were made to pay on the basis of the actual work they do here.

Jesus, who like Francis made himself poor for the sake of the gospel, tells us that we shall always have the poor with us. Not as a reason for doing nothing about poverty, but as a reminder that some challenges will be there for his disciples to tackle even after he has accomplished his earthly ministry. When he himself showed compassion on the poor he did not set some standard of prior merit that the recipients of his bounty needed to attain and evidence. Indeed the very theology of grace that underpins his teaching is alien to such a notion.

So here we are again, another Poverty Sunday and poverty has got no better since the last. We can continue to tackle it through the direct action of our food banks and other projects. We can continue to tackle it by speaking out against the causes of poverty, not least by challenging policies that exacerbate it or add to the numbers condemned to face it. We can tackle it too by seeking to refute the rhetoric of the ‘undeserving poor’. And we will have Jesus and Francis at our sides.

Posted by David Walker on Saturday, 21 June 2014 at 7:30am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 20 June 2014

General Synod Agenda - July 2014

The detailed agenda for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England was released today, along with this press release summarizing its contents.

Agenda for July 2014 General Synod
20 June 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 11th July until 1.00 pm on Tuesday 15 July.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The Agenda is constructed around a sequence of legislative business on Women in the Episcopate. This will begin on the afternoon of Friday 11 July with the Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference to the dioceses. This will be followed by the Final Drafting Stage for the Measure and Amending Canon. The House of Bishops will meet on the morning of Saturday 12 July for its consideration of the draft legislation under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. The Agenda allows alternative scenarios for the afternoon of Sunday 13 July to enable the Convocations and the House of Laity to debate the draft legislation if they claim a reference under Article 7. If these stages are completed, the Synod will take the Final Approval stage during the morning of Monday 14 July.

On the afternoon of Friday 11 July, the Synod will be debating the First Consideration of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which give effect to proposals in developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries and approved by the Synod in February. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

On the afternoon of Saturday 12 July, the General Synod will be addressed by the US writer and theologian the Revd Jim Wallis on the subject of ‘The (Un)Common Good’. Jim Wallis is the President and Founder of Sojourners magazine and the author ‘On God’s Side.’ This will be followed by group work by Synod members on the same theme, culminating in a debate later that afternoon on a motion from the Mission and Public Affairs Council.

On Sunday 13th July there will be a presentation by the President and CEO Designate of the newly-established Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The aim of the CMCU is to provide a mutual ethical vehicle for tax efficient savings and affordable loans for clergy and staff of church charities. It is hoped that the establishment of the CMCU will help to support and strengthen the credit union movement and provide a viable, ethical alternative to mainstream banking for people irrespective of their financial status. Also on Sunday 13th July the Synod will be debating the draft new Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in accessible language which have been drawn up by the Liturgical Commission and which have been passed by the House of Bishops to the Synod for First Consideration.

On the morning of Monday 14 July there will be a presentation followed by a debate on a motion promoted by the Mission and Public Affairs Council on The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenant. The motion invites many community bodies, including local authorities, churches and others to join the initiative which offers pastoral care for members of the Armed Forces Community. The opening presentation will be from the new Bishop to the Armed Forces, the Rt Reverend Nigel Stock.

There will be a debate on the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on a motion moved on behalf of the Guildford Diocesan Synod. A motion on the Spare Room Subsidy from the Diocese of Bradford (now part of the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) is listed as contingency business. A Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Christopher Hobbs on Canon B 8 (vesture), postponed from the previous Group of Sessions is scheduled for the evening of Saturday 12th July.

This group of sessions has a substantial legislative programme in addition to the items already mentioned, including legislation on synodical elections, ecclesiastical property, the faculty jurisdiction and pensions.

The full agenda can be viewed here.

Synod papers can be found here

I have also these articles.

Online General Synod papers
Women in the Episcopate Legislation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 June 2014 at 3:45pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Women in the Episcopate Legislation

Updated Friday night A notice paper has been issued with an important correction to paragraph 21 below. Two-thirds majorities in all three houses are needed for the Amending Canon (and not simple majorities as originally stated). The original version of paragraph 21 is struck through below and followed by the corrected version.

The Women in the Episcopate Legislation will return to General Synod for final approval next month. This extract from the Report of the Business Committee (GS 1949) explains the procedure.

Women in the Episcopate Legislation

16. The Women in the Episcopate legislative process will be taken in several tranches throughout the Group of Sessions. On Friday afternoon [11 July] there will be a ‘take note’ debate on the report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 reference to the dioceses.

17. If the Synod approves the ‘take note’ motion, then the Final Drafting Stage will be taken immediately afterwards on Friday afternoon on the basis of a report from the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee’s report, which identifies its proposed amendments, will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate.

18. If the ‘take note’ motion on the Steering Committee’s report is carried at the Final Drafting Stage, then the draft Measure and Amending Canon will stand referred to the House of Bishops under Article 7 of the Synod’s constitution, together with the draft Act of Synod (which stood referred to the House following its Preliminary Consideration by the Synod in February). It is intended that the House should meet to deal with the reference at a special meeting on the morning of Saturday 12 July. If the House of Bishops approves the draft Measure and Amending Canon and draft Act of Synod, they can return to the Synod for Final Approval Stage.

19. Prior to the Final Approval stage, the Convocations and the House of Laity may claim a reference under Article 7 of the Synod’s Constitution. Therefore the Business Committee has made provision on Sunday 13 July from 2.30 until 3.50 pm for the Convocations and the House of Laity debate the draft legislation if they have claimed a reference. Alternative Business is provided in the event that no Article 7 Reference is claimed.

20. In order to allow for these possible stages of the legislative process, the Business Committee has scheduled the Final Approval Stage for the morning of Monday 14 July. As this is Article 7 and Article 8 business, the Chair for the debate will be one of the Presidents. He is required to declare on behalf of the Presidents, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity that the requirements of Articles 7 and 8 of the Constitution have been complied with.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of the draft Measure. The Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod require no special majority but in practice the motions for their Final Approval would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

21. Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.

22. If the Synod gives Final Approval for the draft Amending Canon, the Synod will also be asked to approve a petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence to promulge and execute the Amending Canon and formally affirm and proclaim the Act of Synod (though it will not come into force until, following the receipt of the Royal Assent and Licence, the Canon is promulged). Only a simple majority is required for its approval.

Canons can only be promulged at a meeting of General Synod. If the Measure receives final approval in July it has to go the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament and then to each of the two Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent. The Queen then has to give her Assent and Licence to the Amending Canon. Whether this can be completed before the next available date for a meeting of General Synod (17 November 2014) is a matter for Parliament and the Palace.

At the same meeting as Synod promulges the Amending Canon it will be asked to approve “Regulations prescribing a procedure for the resolution of disputes arising from the arrangements for which the House of Bishops’ declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests makes provision.” At that point it will become possible for a woman to be consecrated as a bishop in the Church of England.

These are the relevant papers for July.

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops

GENERAL SYNOD

JULY GROUP OF SESSIONS 2014

FIFTH NOTICE PAPER

CORRIGENDUM

ITEM 504
REPORT OF THE BUSINESS COMMITTEE (GS 1949)
(MOTION FOR THE FINAL APPROVAL OF AMENDING CANON NO. 33)

Paragraph 21 of this Report should read:

“Following the declaration by one of the Presidents, the Synod will proceed to the Final Approval Stage, which involves a separate motion for each item of business. A two-thirds majority in each House of the Synod is required for the Final Approval of both the draft Measure and the draft Amending Canon. The Final Approval of the draft Act of Synod requires no special majority. In practice the motions for the Final Approval of the draft Amending Canon and the draft Act of Synod would not be moved if the Measure itself had not been approved with the requisite majority.”

The requirement for a special majority in the case of Amending Canon No. 33 arises from the fact that section 11 of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 requires a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each House for the Final Approval of any Canon which repeals any provision of any Canon promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure: that provision will be engaged by Amending Canon No. 33 since paragraph 3 of the Canon will ‘revoke’ (ie repeal) Canon C 4B (which was promulged under section 1 of the 1993 Measure).

I apologise to members of the Synod that the text of the Business Committee’s Report was incorrect in this important respect.

WILLIAM FITTALL
Secretary General

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Online General Synod papers

Updated Friday 27 June The second set of synod papers was circulated today and I have added links below. A full set of papers can be downloaded as a zip file.

Most papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod were put online today. There is a list in agenda order here, and I have rearranged it into numerical order below with a note of the day(s) on which item is scheduled for debate. I will add links to further papers as they become available.

GS 1877D Amending Canon No 31 [Saturday]

GS 1902-5Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]
GS 1902A Draft Amending Canon 32 [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1902C Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1903A Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1904A Clergy Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]
GS 1905A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) No 2 Resolution [Saturday/Tuesday]

GS 1919A Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
GS 1919Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1921A Draft Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure
GS 1921Y Report by the Revision Committee [Saturday]

GS 1925-6Z Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon for Final Drafting [Friday]
GS 1925B Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926B Draft Amending Canon No 33 [Friday/Monday]
GS 1926C Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Monday]
GS 1934A Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 [Monday]

GS 1936A Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendment) Measure for Revision and for Final Drafting (if needed) and Final Approval [Saturday]

GS 1940A Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution No 1 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1940Y Report

GS 1944A and GS 1944B Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Saturday]
GS 1945A and GS 1945B Diocesan Synod Motion: Magna Carta.
A translation of the Magna Carta is available by clicking here [Monday]

GS 1946 Declaration regarding the National Front [Saturday]
GS 1947 Declaration regarding the British National Party [Saturday]
GS 1946-7X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1948 Agenda
GS 1949 Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1950 Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1951 Report by the Business Committee on the Article 8 Reference [Friday]

GS 1952 Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Friday]
GS 1953 Draft Amending Canon No 34 [Friday]
GS 1952-3X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1954 49th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Saturday]

GS 1955 Payments to the Churches Conservation Trust Order [Saturday]
GS 1955X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1956 The Common Good [Saturday]

GS 1957 Archbishops’ Council Annual Report [Sunday]

GS 1958 Additional Texts for Holy Baptism [Sunday]

GS 1959 The Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2015 [Sunday]

GS 1960 The Armed Forces Covenant and Community Covenants [Monday]

GS 1961 Audit Committee’s Annual Report [Monday]

GS 1962 Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1962X Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1963 Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1963X Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964 Draft Amending Canon No 35
GS 1964X Explanatory Memorandum [Tuesday]
GS 1965A and GS 1965B Diocesan Synod Motion: Spare Room Subsidy [contingency business]

In addition the following GS Misc papers have been issued.

GS Misc 1070 Ethical Investment Annual Review
GS Misc 1072 Appointment of Synod Senior Staff
GS Misc 1073 Charm Rental Scheme
GS Misc 1074 Members of Committees
GS Misc 1075 Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1076 Women in the Episcopate - Declaration from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1077 Women in the Episcopate - Guidance notes from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1078 Mutual Credit Union
GS Misc 1079 A note from the Archbishops
GS Misc 1081 Clergy Disicpline Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1082 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1083 Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission

There are other papers listed below the fold.

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2 (re-issued)
Notice Paper 3
Notice Paper 4
Notice Paper 5

Prayer Card

Church Community Fund Annual Report

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Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon

Updated twice

One of the papers issued to General Synod members today is A note from the Archbishops (GS Misc 1079). This looks at a number of matters to do with next month’s final vote by General Synod on the admission of women to the episcopate.

One item of particular interest is the statement in paragraphs 10-11 that the archbishops are “consulting with others” to ensure that a “bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship” is appointed “within a matter of months”. One way for this to happen is for such a person to be appointed to one of the currently vacant suffragan sees.

The paper also discusses the arrangements to be made at consecrations once the episcopate is open to both men and women, in particular when a new bishop has “concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration”. In short there will be no formal arrangements and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis.

The full text of GS 1079 is copied below the fold.

Update

Forward in Faith has issued the press release: The Consecration of Bishops.

Glyn Paflin writes in the Church Times Headship and consecrations: Primates prepare ground for Synod vote.

GS Misc 1079
GENERAL SYNOD
Women in the Episcopate
A note from the Archbishops

1. A year ago it was with some trepidation that the Synod was preparing to meet for the first time since the end of the unsuccessful legislative process the previous November. Now the situation looks very different. The facilitated conversations last July, the work of the Steering Committee last autumn, the imaginative decision for the revision process of the legislation to be committed to the whole Synod, and the large majorities in the November and February Group of Sessions, have created a new sense of hope and expectation.

2. Since February all 43 dioceses that were able to consider the draft legislation have given their approval. In diocesan houses of clergy 90% of those who cast a vote supported the legislation and in the houses of laity 92% did so.

3. In May, the House of Bishops made The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076), in the form welcomed by the Synod in February. The Declaration notes the significance of opening all orders of ministry equally to women and men and the opportunities this presents for building up the Body of Christ and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom.

4. The House amended its standing orders to provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless a draft of the proposed amendment has first been approved by two-thirds majorities achieved in each House of the Synod. It also agreed the guidance note (GS Misc 1077) promised under paragraph 22 of the Declaration.

5. In May we also consulted the House about two issues on which particular responsibilities fall to us by virtue of the offices that we hold. These concern the outworking of paragraph 30 of the Declaration in relation to consecration arrangements and the presence in the College of at least one bishop who takes the Conservative Evangelical view on headship.

6. On the first, we recognise that, once the episcopate is open equally to all irrespective of gender, there will be some bishops who will be unable in conscience to participate in the laying on of hands at some services. There will also be new bishops who, because of the theological convictions held by them and those to whom they will minister, will have concerns about who presides and shares in the laying on of hands at their consecration.

7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services should be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.

8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.

9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration and to maintain the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.

10. On the second issue touched on in paragraph 30, it is evident that to date the normal processes for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops have not delivered the aspiration to appoint a bishop who holds the Conservative Evangelical view on headship. It is also unclear whether the processes are capable of doing so within a reasonable timescale. [1]

11. We are therefore now consulting others with a view to ensuring that the aspiration is met within a matter of months. We recognise that, as stated in paragraph 30, such an appointment “is important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust”.

12. In the light of the decisions already taken and these clarifications now offered we believe that the circumstances now exist for the Synod to approach the final stages of the legislative process in July in a spirit of generosity and hope. As each member weighs his or her own responsibility in relation to the final approval debate we need each to consider how we can contribute to the well-being and unity of the Church, and the fruitfulness of our response to God’s call.

13. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

+Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis
June 2014

[1] GS 1650 - Talent And Calling; Recommendation 8 of the Report (in 4.4.1) reads:
We recommend that bishops should be asked to indicate which (if any) of those currently on the List from their dioceses are from a conservative evangelical background. Bishops should be asked positively to look for clergy from this constituency who might either be qualified for inclusion on the Preferment List or might be developed in such a way that they might be qualified later on.
The Report’s recommendations were debated and endorsed at the July 2007 Group of Sessions. The voting was AYES: 297; NOES: 1. Those responsible were invited to give effect to the recommendations and the Archbishops’ Council was asked to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation. GS1680, which reported back to Synod in February 2008, did not address this particular recommendation.

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury addresses National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.

A full transcript of his remarks can be found here.

A video recording of the entire address is here.

The Bible Society also has two short videos, available from here.

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Trojan horses, religion in schools, and public opinion

We have reported previously here, and then here, about the issues raised by events in a number of supposedly secular Birmingham schools.

British Religion and Numbers has published two articles discussing the public opinion polls that have been undertaken in response to all this.

Back on 12 June, there was Trojan Horse Plot and Other News.

Two-thirds of the British public think there is substance behind the allegations of a ‘Trojan horse’ plot whereby hardline Muslim groups have attempted to take over certain schools in Birmingham. However, opinion is divided about where blame for this state of affairs lies. These are among the findings of a poll conducted by YouGov for The Sunday Times, in which 2,134 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online on 5 and 6 June 2014 (i.e. before the formal release of Ofsted’s reports on the 21 schools on 9 June). The data tables were published on 8 June at:

http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/lwiuydgoju/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-x140606.pdf.pdf

The opening questions were generic, YouGov’s panellists initially being asked whether it was acceptable for state schools with a majority of pupils from Muslim families to set rules reflecting their interpretation of Islamic religion and culture. Overwhelmingly (85%), this was deemed unacceptable, with still higher proportions among UKIP supporters (95%), the over-60s (93%), and Conservatives (91%). Overall, only 7% defended the operation of Islamic rules in these circumstances, and no more than 11% in any demographic sub-group…

Then on 18 June, BRIN published More Trojan Horse Polling. This includes two separate polling reports:

Trojan horse plot (1)

For the second week running, YouGov was commissioned by The Sunday Times to investigate public opinion surrounding issues raised by the so-called ‘Trojan horse’ plot, whereby Muslim hardliners were alleged to have been trying to take over the governance of some state schools in Birmingham. For this second poll, 2.106 Britons were interviewed online on 12 and 13 June 2014, with data tables published on 15 June at:

http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/v0zlbnvgel/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140613.pdf

More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents identified some risk to state schools being taken over by religious extremists, 34% agreeing that there was a large risk in many parts of the country and 45% a minor risk in just a few parts of the country (with 10% detecting no significant risk and 2% none at all). Risks were most likely to be perceived by Conservatives (88%), UKIP voters (94%), and the over-60s (91%). One-half the sample considered that academies and free schools were at greater risk from religious extremism than local authority controlled schools, while 28% judged them at equal risk…

Trojan horse plot (2)

The ‘Trojan horse’ plot also provided the context for an online poll by Opinium Research among 1,002 UK adults aged 18 and over on 12 and 13 June 2014. It was conducted for The Observer, with a report appearing on pp. 1 and 14 of the main section of that newspaper dated 15 June. The survey concerned ‘faith schools’, although it should be noted that the schools at the centre of the ‘Trojan horse’ plot were not faith schools in the strict meaning of the term, but rather community schools, some under local authority control and some academies. The tables from the Opinium poll were released on 16 June and can be found at:

http://news.opinium.co.uk/sites/news.opinium.co.uk/files/op4610_observer_faith_schools_tables.pdf

In the wake of the ‘Trojan horse’ controversy, Opinium’s panellists were asked whether they thought some predominantly Muslim schools were actually fostering extremist attitudes among their pupils. Most (55% overall, 60% of men and 63% of over-55s) considered that they were, far more than the 16% who believed that mainly Muslim schools were simply reflecting the values and views of the parents of their pupils. A further 29% did not know or otherwise could not choose between the two options on offer…

Do read the full analysis on each of these three polls.

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Monday, 16 June 2014

Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis meet in Rome

Press releases from Lambeth Palace:

Press release from Vatican: Pope’s address to Archbishop Justin

Reports in The Tablet:

We stand together as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, Pope tells Welby

Welby in Rome challenges Churches to take risks and cast off ‘institutional prestige’

The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome writes:

Encouraging more sharing and collaboration

On Sunday 15th June the Archbishop of Canterbury will be launching the new IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission) website, at the Anglican Centre in Rome, as part of his visit to the Pope on Monday 16th. This is a new opportunity for us to know and to encourage much more sharing and collaboration between Anglicans and Roman Catholics around the world: now we will have a portal to refer people to and to receive global updates and information to move us forward.

The IARCCUM website

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

More about religion in schools

Updated Wednesday

Update
The full results of the survey on which the story below was based are now available here.

Today’s Observer newspaper carries this front page lead story:
Taxpayers’ cash should not be used to fund faith schools, say voters by Toby Helm and Mark Townsend.

Labour is calling for cross-party talks on how religious education is conducted and monitored in the state sector as a special poll for the Observer shows widespread concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money to fund faith schools in a multicultural Britain.

The survey by Opinium shows that 58% of voters now believe faith schools, which can give priority to applications from pupils of their faith and are free to teach only about their own religion, should not be funded by the state or should be abolished.

Of those with concerns, 70% said the taxpayer should not be funding the promotion of religion in schools, 60% said such schools promoted division and segregation, and 41% said they were contrary to the promotion of a multicultural society. Fewer than one in three (30%) said they had no objections to faith schools being funded by the state.

Labour supports the continuation of state-funded faith schools and shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said he saw them as “an important part of the educational landscape”. But he said the recent controversy in Birmingham, where six non-faith schools have been put into special measures and a further five criticised following allegations of a plot by hardline Muslims to infiltrate them, had raised important questions about the relationship between education and religion in a multicultural society.

Acknowledging that none of the schools criticised by Ofsted had been faith schools, Hunt said the row had triggered a real debate which politicians needed to join. “Events in Birmingham have raised questions about faith, multiculturalism and state education and in the aftermath this is the moment to think about discussing, on a cross-party basis, how we manage potential tensions, particularly in urban districts.”

Hunt said he believed that in future Ofsted should have a strong role in inspecting how religion was taught in faith schools, and that only qualified teachers should give instruction on the subject. He suggested that schools should teach about other religions, and not just one.

Opinium found that 75% of the public believed there was a serious risk pupils could be encouraged to adopt extremist views in predominantly Muslim schools. A majority – 56% – thought all faith schools should have to teach the national curriculum rather than being free to teach only about their own religion…

This week’s issue of The Tablet carries an editorial commenting on the Birmingham situation (see earlier article): Islamic extremism let loose by Gove

Some scepticism is in order regarding the claim that the controversy surrounding a small group of schools in Birmingham is just about Muslim extremism. It obscures the fact that this is rather more a crisis in the Government’s reform of the state school system in England. The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, was so keen to break the power of what he calls “the blob” – an alleged body of ideologically motivated educationalists entrenched in the system particularly at local authority level – that he has created the conditions under which the Birmingham problem could emerge…

…It apparently never occurred to the Education Secretary that some governors and some parents in some places, influenced by a highly conservative version of Islam in the local mosque, would want the local school in which a majority of children were Muslim to adjust its culture accordingly – for example by requiring male and female pupils to be segregated, or girls to be veiled.

And if teachers, including heads, did not cooperate, he had given governors the power to overrule or even replace them. But this is not so much the result of a sinister plot by Muslim extremists, more the logic of Mr Gove’s entire free school and academy reform programme. He handed power to local people, and they used it. If they rejected Western culture, particularly its attitude to the equality of women, then they had simply used the freedom Mr Gove had given them to exploit their power…

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

opinion

Symon Hill writes for Politics.co.uk that The far-right’s god-whistle politics isn’t going away.

David Keen has ten eight Questions for the CofE to ask itself.

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian that There’s no such thing as an atheist baby.

N T Wright has been interviewed by J John of the Philo Trust. There is a transcript here: Gay Marriage.
Tobias Haller responds with N T Wright: Wrong Again.

Gillan Scott of God & Politics in the UK writes about Oxfam’s perfect storm, poverty and yet more examples of Christians providing answers.
He has also published this guest post: Christian Aid give their take on the fallout over Oxfam’s ‘perfect storm’ poster.

Bob Morris has written for Law & Religion UK about Abdication? Reigns in Spain and the ‘A’ word (again) in the UK.

The Church of England has published these Prayers for the World Cup.
[Editor’s note: The World Cup is some sort of football competition taking place in Brazil; England is one of the teams taking part.]

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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Scottish Episcopal Church - General Synod

Updated twice Friday evening
Updated Saturday evening

The Scottish Episcopal Church is holding its annual General Synod from today until Saturday. The agenda and papers are available here.

There is an official report of today’s business - General Synod 2014 Day One - and these two news items:
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Introduces General Synod 2014
Launch of New Grosvenor Essay No.10 ‘The Church and Scottish Identity’.

There is a live audio feed here.

Updates

Here is the official report of the second day’s business: General Synod 2014 Day Two

The Primus addressed the synod following discussion on the subject of Same-Sex Relationships. The full text of his statement can be found here.

Not everybody shared his views, see:
Kelvin Holdsworth How not to have a synodical discussion
Beth Routledge Why I’m Still Not Convinced By The Cascade Conversations

More updates

Here is the official report of the third day’s business: General Synod 2014 Day Three.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Faith Schools and Trojan Horses

Updated Wednesday morning

The media reports of recent OFSTED inspections of a number of Birmingham schools, linked to the “Trojan Horse affair” alleging Islamist extremism, have led the British Humanist Association to call for a wider review of the place of religion in schools, see BHA: Birmingham schools findings reflect need for wider review of place of religion in schools

Today the BHA has called for a wider review of the place of religion in state-funded schools.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘It is vital that every young person receives a broad and balanced education in an environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of religion, gender or sexual orientation and that prepares them for life in wider British society. It is only if schools provide such an education in such an environment that we can live in a society where everyone is treated equally with tolerance and respect. Park View has been failing to do this, and we are pleased that that is now set to change.

‘However, these issues speak more widely to the need for a thorough review of the place of religion in schools. While controversy has raged about these admittedly serious problems, there has been no similar level of concern expressed about the all-too-common situation where a pupil is unable to get into their local Church of England school because their parents are not Christian; a teacher is unable to find employment at a Catholic school because they are not Catholic; or a child is left distressed or sidelined because of Christian proselytising in an assembly in a school with no religious character. While these situations are allowed to continue, it is no surprise that some people of another faith will take existing schools of no religious character and effectively treat them as their own “faith” schools. This kind of behaviour will only be stopped once no school is legally able to discriminate against any pupil, parent or member of staff.’

Church of England officials have responded strongly, see this article by Arun Arora which has also appeared over here.

Birmingham, the BHA, Religious Education and Church Schools

The publication of the OFSTED report into 21 schools in Birmingham linked to the so called “Trojan Horse” affair led to a flurry of tweets and comment from the British Humanist Association (BHA) yesterday. The thrust of their contention - that the OFSTED report showed the damage done by the presence of faith schools in the education system – is a shaky attempt to build one of the BHA’s long held aims into the news agenda. The tweeting of a comment from the debate on the report was typical: “Great from @crispinbluntmp - there should be no faith schools, every school should prepare pupils for life in wider British society”.

Unfortunately for the BHA the facts do little to support their claims. The fundamental problem with the BHA’s argument is that none of the schools being looked into in Birmingham are faith schools.

Not one.

Of the 21 Birmingham schools investigated by Ofsted, 8 are Academies and 13 are local authority run. So the BHA’s argument that “the way to stop this kind of thing is to make get rid of faith schools” is not simply misleading, it is so far off the mark as to require special measures.

Perhaps one of the deeper ironies of the BHA’s attempt to hijack this issue for their own aims is that it is a perfect example of using a “Trojan Horse”; using the OFSTED findings as subterfuge for attacking the work of church schools not least in Birmingham itself.

At the same time that the BHA was going into overdrive about the OFSTED report, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, was making his maiden speech in the House of Lords. His theme was education. In his speech Bishop Stephen noted that the diocese of Chelmsford has recently accepted an invitation to be a co-sponsor of the London Design and Engineering University Technical college where in addition to receiving technical and practical training, Religious Education will be given a high priority on the curriculum. The Bishop noted that the trustees of the college recognise that it is “impossible to understand and inhabit the modern world – especially in East London – without a critical appreciation of faith, and even more than this, a mature spiritual, moral, social and cultural worldview. Moreover, good religious education has been shown to be one of the best ways of countering religious extremism. “

In an interview after his speech Stephen Cottrell warmed to this theme saying “RE, perhaps in the past, might have been something which was just of academic interest. Now it’s of practical relevance to actually understand who is my neighbour, how do I love and understand and appreciate my neighbour…One of the things that most obviously contributes to cohesion between people of different cultures and different faiths is proper appreciation and understanding of different faith traditions”

The Church of England educates a million children a day in its schools. Even the BHA, in its more reflective moments, would be hard pressed to describe CofE Schools as hotbeds of religious extremism or indoctrination. The contrast between some of the findings in the recent OFSTED investigation and the experience of those educated at Church of England schools stand in marked contrast. As the former Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, wrote of his own experience of Church of England primary and secondary schools: “I went to Christian schools, St Mary’s Church Primary, then Christ’s College Finchley. We Jews were different and a minority. Yet not once was I insulted for my faith.”

The work of Church of England schools in Birmingham is evidence of Stephen Cottrell’s contention that the best way of countering religious extremism is to engage with faith and not banish it. For over a decade some Church of England primary schools in the city have had an almost 100% school roll from Muslim families, serving children from local communities in the inner city. Every Church of England School in the city educates children of all faiths and none. Meanwhile the Church of England’s only secondary school in the city provides an account of excellence and achievement in the midst of challenging circumstances.

St Alban’s Academy is the only state-funded Church of England secondary school in Birmingham and is the nearest secondary school to the city centre. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is very much higher than the national average. The percentage of students from minority ethnic backgrounds is over four times higher than the national figure and the proportion of those who speak English as an additional language is high. The percentage of students registered by as having special educational needs and/or disabilities is well above the national average.

The School’s most recent OFSTED report – from 2011 – found the school was “outstanding”. The report said “From exceptionally low attainment on entry, students leave with above average attainment and outstanding achievement.” The report further highlights the achievements of the school in providing: “outstanding spiritual, moral, social and cultural development that underpins students’ exemplary behaviour and makes an exceptional contribution to their excellent learning.”

This is the experience of millions of families who have been served by Church of England schools which remains a testament at firm odds with the doctrinaire dogmatism and opportunism of the BHA.

There is also this interview by Nigel Genders the newly-appointed Church of England Chief Education Officer.

Some media reports and comment (Updated Wednesday morning):

Telegraph
Dan Hodges All faith-based schools are Trojan Horse schools. Let’s ban every single one of them
Tim Stanley Trojan horse plot: the problem isn’t faith schools, it’s Islamic fundamentalism
Graeme Paton ‘Selection by faith’ axed at new wave of Anglican schools

Guardian
John Harris The lesson of Birmingham? State education is in chaos
Simon Jenkins When Whitehall meddles in schools, it’s only ever bad news

BBC Sean Coughlan What is the fall out from the Trojan Horse?

Church Times Madeleine Davies Birmingham schools hit back at OFSTED after critical reports

Daily Mail Manzoor Moghal I fear Islamic extremism in these schools is just the tip of the iceberg

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 at 6:17pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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The Alban Pilgrimage 2014

This year’s Alban Pilgrimage takes place on Saturday 21st June 2014.

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and John Bell of the Iona Community will be preaching at this year’s Pilgrimage.

More details on the St Albans Cathedral website here.

The timetable of the day:

11.00 Pilgrimage Procession begins through the City Centre
The route begins from St Peter’s Church, St Albans, and continues to the Town Hall and then we will process to the West End of the Cathedral.

c. 12 noon Festival Eucharist (following the Procession)
Preacher: The Most Rev’d Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The service will be sung by the Abbey Girls Choir.

12 noon Children’s Worship and Activities
In the Abbey Primary School. All children must be registered to participate in advance - see here.

14.00 Orthodox Service and Veneration of the Relic at the Shrine of Saint Alban
Organised by the Ecumenical Chaplaincy and the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius - all welcome.

15.00 Anointing for Healing in the Lady Chapel.

16.00 Festival Evensong and Procession to the Shrine
Preacher: John Bell of the Iona Community. The service will be sung by the Cathedral Choir.

There is a booklet of information for pilgrims and you can read about the story of Saint Alban here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 at 7:11am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 7 June 2014

opinion

Christopher Howse writes for The Telegraph about The battle against church lavatories.

William Turvill of the Press Gazette has been talking to the BBC’s Edward Stourton: British media suffers from religious ‘blind spot’ leading to ‘skewed’ coverage.

Edward Dutton writes for the Church Times about Why atheists are brighter than Christians.

Chris Russell writes for the Church Times about Why evangelism is always non-negotiable.

Ruth Gledhill has interviewed Rachel Mann for Christian Today: Transgender priest Rachel Mann made minor canon at Manchester Cathedral: ‘God did not reject me,’ she says.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 7 June 2014 at 11:00am BST | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church

Update Tuesday afternoon More press reports added

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy, as this press release explains.

BNP and National Front incompatible with teaching of Church
03 June 2014

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have voted to make membership or support of the British National Party (BNP) or National Front (NF) a potential disciplinary offence for its clergy.

The formal declarations by the House of Bishops mean that a complaint of misconduct can be made under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against any cleric of the Church of England who is a member of, or promotes or expresses or solicits support for, the BNP or NF.

The declarations will be laid before the General Synod of the Church at its July meeting in York and will come into force at 5.30pm on 11 July 2014 unless 25 members of the General Synod give notice that they wish a declaration to be debated. If such notice is given, the expectation is that the declaration would be debated at the Synod’s July group of sessions in York, and it could not come into force unless approved by the Synod.

The declarations state that on May 19 2014 the House of Bishops resolved to declare that the constitution, polices, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front and the British National Party are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races.

Once a declaration comes into force support for the political party concerned by clergy of the Church of England would be unbecoming or inappropriate conduct. The declarations from the House of Bishops, which were made under section 8(4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, implement in relation to the clergy of the Church of England, a policy of the General Synod agreed in February 2009 following a Private Member’s Motion from Vasantha Gnanadoss: “That this Synod, noting that in 2004 the Association of Chief Police Officers adopted a policy whereby “no member of the Police Service, whether police officer or police staff, may be a member of an organisation whose constitution, aims, objectives or pronouncements contradict the general duty to promote race equality” and “this specifically includes the British National Party”, request the House of Bishops to formulate and implement a comparable policy for the Church of England, to apply to clergy, ordinands, and such employed lay persons as have duties that require them to represent or speak on behalf of the Church.”

ENDS

Notes

  • An explanatory note explaining the background to the declarations (GS 1946-7X) can be found on the Church of England website, together with the declarations:
GS 1946 National Front declaration
GS 1947 British National Party declaration
  • The Church’s teaching in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races is set out in the 2010 House of Bishops’ theological statement Affirming our Common Humanity.
  • In making a declaration of incompatibility the House of Bishops took account of the constitutions of both parties and published statements on their behalf, including, for example, the BNP’s manifesto for the last General Election (“Democracy, Freedom, Culture and Identity”) which is published on the BNP website.

John Bingham reports for The Telegraph that Church of England bans clergy from ‘un-Christian’ BNP and National Front.

Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that Church of England bans clergy from joining BNP or National Front.

Pink News BNP furious after Church of England bans clergy from having party membership

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 3 June 2014 at 2:49pm BST | Comments (55) | TrackBack
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Monday, 2 June 2014

The Church of England and HS2

There are numerous media reports of a formal objection to the HS2 railway project that has been made by the Church of England. See for example:

Read the official press release about it here: Archbishops’ Council submits petition on HS2 Bill to Parliament:

02 June 2014
The Archbishops’ Council has submitted a petition on the HS2 Bill to Parliament, regarding treatment of burial grounds and human remains.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cmhs2/petitions/1756.pdf

A Church of England spokesperson said “In terms of ‘opposition’ the C of E is not opposing HS2 per se, rather we are petitioning for a technical change to the Bill, ie we are opposing the Bill in its present, in our view technically deficient, form. It is simply a matter of re-instating a clause which can be found in other legislation relating to development and has been left out of this Bill.”

Background

There will be thousands of exhumations, but not at Kensal Green where HS2 runs underneath in a tunnel. It is likely there will be a significant number at the three sites, but we do not have reliable figures.

One of the problems such projects face is that it’s difficult to judge the amount of time and money which will be needed to deal properly with human remains.

Individual churches near the line are opposing the Bill and have sent in their own petitions. We hope to achieve better mitigation and where necessary compensation for these churches and their communities. We are particularly worried about the effect on Chetwode St Mary in Buckinghamshire, but there are others.

Main burial grounds that will be disturbed

Euston St James Gardens, London, to be cleared (actually in St Pancras parish), 18th-19th century.

Kensal Green cemetery London, tunnel underneath (so no exhumations).

Stoke Mandeville St Mary old church, Bucks / Oxford, to be cleared (a ruin, with burial ground probably 12th century to 1905)

Park Street / Curzon interchange, Birmingham 18th-19th century, to be cleared.

This is all explained at Law & Religion UK HS2, burial grounds, the Church of England and hybrid bills.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 2 June 2014 at 9:05am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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