Kelvin Holdsworth The Archbishop, the gays and their sins
Charlotte Gale Ten things I have learned about General Synod
Accepting Evangelicals has today launched a new section of its website, titled Good Disagreement.
This includes an article of the same title, by the Dean of St Paul’s, David Ison.
A pdf version of his article is also available. Here is a short extract, but you need to read the whole piece:
…And in the light of Reform’s response, there are also questions to be asked about the whole enterprise of ‘Shared Conversations’. Reflection ‘in the light of scripture’ brings in two of the classical Anglican markers of theological authority, the Bible and Reason, to which should be added an awareness of and exploration of Tradition – which requires a serious engagement with history which is not necessarily present in the heat of the debate. Further, the idea that there can be ‘safe space’ and a ‘safe environment’ for people to be vulnerable about their sexuality could only be true where those with power relinquish it. How reasonable is it to expect gay ordained and lay people, in a Church which discriminates against and condemns the expression of their sexuality, in a wider British culture which only very recently has begun to be more open about sexuality and where homophobic bullying and even murder are still current, let alone a world-wide culture in which homosexuality is in many places punished by imprisonment or death, should make themselves vulnerable to those who may want to exclude them? Will heterosexuals begin the discussion by sharing their struggles and experiences with their own sexuality, including those of their sins and shortcomings which might open them to the charge of hypocrisy, the loss of their reputation and authority, and possible disciplinary action? After all, far more damage is done in and to the Church by misbehaving heterosexuals than by gay people.
Personally, I think that the idea of ‘Shared Conversations’ is a positive initial step, but one which is unlikely on its own to have the kind of buy-in which is necessary to make a sufficient difference to how the Church engages with the issues around sexuality. A process which requires its participants to truly hear, and even be vulnerable to, one another, requires rather more investment of time and will than appears likely to be given at present through what is proposed for these conversations: they are a beginning rather than an end – which is one of the reasons why Reform are reluctant to participate, as they imply more beyond them. But, as the group discussions in General Synod about the ordination of women as bishops helped participants to really begin to meet those with whom they disagree, so these conversations have the power to do the same: whether that leads to change, and what that change would be, will be a further question…
But that’s not all. Ruth Gledhill has interviewed David Ison for Christian Today and her article is titled Dean of St Paul’s David Ison calls on CofE to consider gay marriage. There is a video recording of the interview linked at the bottom of that page, and there is a transcript of the text also provided. Her report for Christian Today begins thus:
The Dean of St Paul’s has called for the Church of England to consider what accepting same-sex marriage would mean for the future.
The Church of England is seen by many as “toxic” and “oppressive” because of its stance on women and gays, he said. Some gay Christians had even committed suicide because of the pressure of being told they had to be celibate.
Dr David Ison says today: “We need to consider what the acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church would mean in reality, and how it would be understood in relation to the theology of Christian marriage and the chequered history of that institution, as well as contemporary social practice around sexuality.”
Dr Ison, who was brought up in the conservative evangelical tradition but changed his mind about homosexuality after meeting gay Christians at university and witnessing first-hand the damage done by the traditional teaching, added: “We are in a situation where because of its views about women and about gay people, the church has been seen as toxic or oppressive.
“That breaks my heart, that that should be the case, when the church is there to bear witness to freedom, life and hope in the world. Let’s see what we can do to change that…”
The Sun newspaper (in an article behind its paywall) reported this morning that some cathedrals and churches are hiring staff on salaries below the living wage. This is despite last week’s pastoral letter from the House of Bishops calling on employers to pay at least this amount.
Tim Wyatt reports the story for the Church Times: Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row.
So too does BBC News: Church of England pays some workers below living wage.
Rose Hudson-Wilkin Christian Today What Christians get wrong about Politics
Angus Ritchie Huffington Post What Do the Bishops Know About Politics? More Than You’d Think…
Eliza Filby Church Times The Church, the ballot-box, and Mrs Thatcher
Linda Woodhead Theos What is the future for religion in Britain?
Giles Fraser The Guardian Give me hypocrites over cynics any time. At least they aspire to something
Antonia Blumberg Huffington Post Christians Celebrate Ash Wednesday Around The World [Photos From Around The World]
Nicholas Hills, the Administrative Secretary in the Central Secretariat at Church House Westminster, has sent a summary of last week’s General Synod business to diocesan secretaries and archdeacons. The Diocese of Liverpool has published a slightly abbreviated version on its website. The original letter is also available.
Although as usual the detailed reports in the Church Times are only available to subscribers, this article by Madeleine Davies is free to all: Not on the agenda for Synod, Green remains hot topic.
Our first roundup is here.
Tim Wyatt Church Times Bishops’ call for vision provokes anger
Gaby Hinsliff The Guardian Want to make yourself look less nasty? Avoid picking fights with the church
Michael Sadgrove Ash Wednesday, the Bishops and the Election
Ian Paul Which party should I vote for?
This week’s podcast from the Church of England starts with interviews with the Bishops of Norwich and Leicester.
Secretary General To Step Down
20 February 2015
William Fittall, the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod of the Church of England, has today issued a statement to members of the General Synod announcing his intention to leave his post on November 30th this year.
Mr. Fittall, 61, took up the role of Secretary General in 2002 having previously worked in a number of senior posts in Whitehall. Announcing his intended departure, Mr. Fittall said:
“After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.
I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role.”
Responding to the announcement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“William has made a substantial and prodigious contribution to the work and life of the Church of England. For over a decade he has been unstinting in his efforts to ably lead the staff of the Council and professionally support the work of the Synod. He has been indefatigable in his service and I will personally miss him greatly.”
Statement from William Fittall
“This is to inform you that I have given the Archbishops formal notice of my intention to conclude my period of service as Secretary General on 30 November, immediately after the induction and inauguration of the new Synod.
By then it will be more than forty years since I started work in Whitehall and more than thirteen since my arrival at Church House. After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.
I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role. The Archbishops have, therefore, asked that the process for securing a successor should be put in hand immediately.
When the time comes, there will be more to say about the experience and privilege of having occupied this unique role. In the meantime there is still much work to be done, not least in relation to the reform and renewal programme, the Church’s engagement with government after the forthcoming election and the preparations for a new synodical quinquennium.”
General Synod members have been sent A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing, written by William Fittall, the Secretary General. The briefing outlines the programme, details what Synod decided last week, and looks ahead to what happens next.
The briefing does not appear to be available on the Church of England website, but David Thomson, the Bishop of Huntingdon, has published it on his website.
Updated Tuesday evening and Wednesday
Tim Wyatt Church Times House of Bishops calls for a new politics ahead of election
Esther Addley The Guardian Church of England calls for ‘fresh moral vision’ in British politics
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England calls for a ‘new direction’ in British Politics
John Bingham The Telegraph Bishops vow to take on ‘sex appeal’ of Russell Brand’s ‘don’t vote’ message
John Bingham and Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph Thatcherism is finished – declares Church of England
Nigel Morris The Independent Russell Brand’s ‘sex appeal’ will deter voters, the Church of England says
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Bishops’ Pastoral Statement: 2015 General Election
Nick Baines Bishops and politics
Malcolm Brown (Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England) blogs: Who is my Neighbour?
Aisha Gani The Guardian Church of England bishops’ pastoral letter: key points
The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the church and the election: talking sense
Kiran Stacey and Barney Thompson Financial Times Church of England rebukes political parties for lack of vision
Anoosh Chakelian New Statesman How the Church wants you to vote
James Kirkup and Tim Stanley The Telegraph Does the Church have a place in politics?
Symon Hill Ekklesia The bishops’ election letter is mild, not radical
Isabel Hardman The Spectator Tories and the Church: the 30-year war continues
Archbishop Cranmer “Tory Fury” over Church of England letter is a confected Tory tantrum
Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph Church of England campaigning for EU integration
Giles Fraser The Guardian The bishops have a point: our politics is stale and unambitious
Michael White The Guardian C of E’s naive intervention in politics prompts fierce storm in a teacup
Steven Swinford The Telegraph Iain Duncan Smith mocks Church of England’s ‘dwindling relevence’
Nick Spencer Theos Burning bishops’ fingers
Jonathan Chaplin KLICE ‘Who is my neighbour?’ – the Church of England finds a new political voice (also republished on Fulcrum)
Updated Tuesday evening
House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election
17 February 2015
The House of Bishops of the Church of England have today expressed the hope for political parties to discern “a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be” ahead of the General Election in May of this year.
In a pastoral letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England, the Bishops urge Christians to consider the question how can we “build the kind of society which many people say they want but which is not yet being expressed in the vision of any of the parties?”
The letter also encourages church members to engage in the political process ahead of the General Election and to put aside self-interest and vote for ‘the common good’: “The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.”
The letter also states that: “In Britain, we have become so used to believing that self-interest drives every decision, that it takes a leap of imagination to argue that there should be stronger institutions for those we disagree with as well as for those ‘on our side.’ Breaking free of self-interest and welcoming our opponents as well as our supporters into a messy, noisy, yet rich and creative community of communities is, perhaps, the only way we will enrich our almost-moribund political culture.”
The letter defends the right of the Church to enter into the political arena: “It is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about how the world’s affairs ought to be arranged. The claim that religion and political life must be kept separate is, in any case, frequently disingenuous - most politicians and pundits are happy enough for the churches to speak on political issues so long as the church agrees with their particular line.”
The pastoral letter draws on the experience of the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community to warn of the disengagement between politicians and the people. They note that “with few exceptions, politicians are not driven merely by cynicism or self-interest” but nevertheless, “the different parties have failed to offer attractive visions of the kind of society and culture they wish to see…. There is no idealism in this prospectus”.
The letter encourages political parties across the spectrum to seek bold new visions of hope and idealism rather than “sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best.”
The bishops also argue Britain is in need of a stronger politics of community to boost solidarity between people and reverse a drift towards social isolation: “The extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete - and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.”
The letter specifically avoids advocacy for one any political party but instead encourages those in the Church to seek from political candidates a commitment to building a society of common bonds over individual consumerism. The bishops say Britain is hungry for a new approach to political life which reaffirms our ties at a national, regional, community and neighbourhood level. There is a need for a strong corrective to halt the move towards increasing social isolation, they say, through strengthening the idea that that Britain is still a “community of communities.” This, they say, is a theme which has roots in the historic traditions of different parties: “We are seeking, not a string of policy offers, but a way of conceiving and ordering our political and economic life which can be pursued in a conservative idiom, a socialist idiom, a liberal idiom - and by others not aligned to party.”
The pastoral letter argues that the Church of England finds its voice through being a presence in every community with churches remaining one of the primary agents of social action and social care in parishes across the country. The letter argues that Intermediate institutions such as housing associations, credit unions and churches are needed for their role in building stronger communities. A thriving society needs many intermediate institutions, they say, including those who disagree with each other.
The letter also recognises the inherent danger in the current situation where people are disengaging from politics, arguing that restoring faith in both politicians and the political process requires a new politics that engages at both a deeper more local level within a wider, broader vision for the country as a whole.
In the letter, the bishops warn against despair and urge people to vote in the General Election: “Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes. It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us.”
The Pastoral letter can be read here.
A guide to the pastoral letter and its contents can be found here.
The Church of England & Church Urban Fund research “Church in Action” can be found at:
Updated to add links to pdf versions of dock files.
Graham Kings, the suffragan Bishop of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury, will be moving to be Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion in the summer.
Mission Theology website: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion
Salisbury diocesan website: New Job for Bishop Graham
Southwark diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings
Our previous roundup was: Following up on the Green Report.
Since then, there wasn’t any proper debate on it at the General Synod.
Andrew Lightbown has continued to offer comment:
Both of these articles deserve to be read in full, and taken seriously by the management of the Church of England. Here is an excerpt, but do read both of them in full.
…Let’s have a look at the ‘Christian leadership tradition’ drawing on the Rule of Benedict…
In chapter 3 of his rule Benedict acknowledges that some decisions can only be taken by the most senior member of the community. Accordingly he places two obligations on the abbot or abbess:
- when any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery, the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and,
- the community should be summoned for such consultation because it often happens that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members. Benedict endorses, and actively seeks out, the ‘wisdom of youth.’ Does the Church?
Benedict also tells his audience that it is only ‘when questions of lesser importance arise in the concerns of the monastery,that the abbot or abbess should consult with seniors alone.’
If we accept Benedict’s logic and apply it – reasoning by analogy – to the ‘discussions’ around the Green Report we can only presume that the House of Bishops regard the identification and development of the next generation of leaders as a matter of ‘lesser importance!’ Matters to be discussed by the bishops alone…
The Revd Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
Q15 The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (15 February 2014) states:
“(25) The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.”
Given the high value the Church places on “theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity”, is the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission able to assure Synod that its policy and practice is, and will continue to be, that clergy who “fashion their lives consistently with [the Church’s] teaching” will not be barred from preferment on the grounds that they have argued for “a change in [the Church‟s] teaching on marriage and human sexuality”?
The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A Yes. When candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues is, however, among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment.
Jo Spreadbury: I just wanted to clarify what current policy and practice is and what it might continue to be if I may, to ask, having directed the CNC not to vote for one of the candidates in the Exeter and the Edmundsbury appointment processes because of the effect on the Anglican Communion, will Your Grace continue to use what amounts to an unconstitutional veto in future appointments?
Archbishop of Canterbury: I really can’t comment on what goes on in CNCs. We are bound by a promise of confidentiality which is strictly held in most cases. It is also the case that the Crown Appointments Secretary and the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary keep a close eye on and follow up anything that looks like a breach of normal practice.
This is one of the questions answered at General Synod on Tuesday. As an experiment at this group of sessions the questions and original answers were printed in a booklet and not read out, and the person answering merely referred to the printed answer. Any supplementaries were then taken orally, and I have transcribed these from the audio.
Mrs Anne Martin (Guildford) to ask the Secretary General:
Q46 Could the Secretary General please supply General Synod members with a list of all the Task Groups in existence (including those presenting reports in this Synod, those not presenting reports and the Spending Plans Task Group), along with their current membership?
Mr William Fittall to reply
A The reports of five Task Groups have been circulated to the Synod in connection with the February Group of Sessions, namely, Resourcing the Future (GS 1978), Resourcing Ministerial Education (GS 1979), Simplification (GS 1980), Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders (attached to GS 1982) and Optimising the Role of the NCIs (GS Misc 1094). The membership of the groups is included in each report.
It is difficult to produce a comprehensive list of other task groups because there is no standard definition of the term and groups can be established to undertake focused work in a wide variety of circumstances by any number of national bodies. I have, however, placed on the notice board the membership of the Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism, the Task Group on responsible Savings and Credit, the Spending Plans Task Group, the Turning up the Volume Group, the Church Buildings Review Group, the Environment Working Group and the Deployment Task Group.
Anne Martin: Thank your for the reply and the action taken. Can I also ask, will the terms of reference for each task group be made available to General Synod members?
William Fittall: We can certainly seek to do so. I think that the point, just to draw out, is that even at national level the Church of England is quite a complex institution and some people may have a fantasy that there is a sort of central air traffic control that ensures that all these bodies are set up in an orderly fashion with terms of reference and a single process for appointing members. The reality is that a lot of commissions, councils, boards and so on do set up groups to undertake particular tasks. So I can certainly try and assemble those for you, but it doesn’t all sit neatly on a database.
Vasantha Gnanadoss: Given that black and asian people are very poorly represented in the membership of the task groups will you encourage the people responsible for making appointments to do better in future?
William Fittall: I think in an earlier question there was a reference to guidance that the Appointments Committee has produced on making appointments, and that does very much make the point that’s just been expressed in relation to diversity, and that guidance does apply to all appointments, not just those for which the Appointments Committee itself is responsible. So that is a long way of saying yes.
This last answer refers to an earlier question, which is given below the fold.
The Revd Canon Jane Charman (Salisbury) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
Q25 Given that around 80% of the membership of the Task Groups is male, including all the Chairs:
The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A I agree that an 80/20 gender balance in most contexts isn’t good enough. In the case of the task groups it did not help that, despite progress in recent years, women remain under-represented not only among archdeacons, other senior clergy and of course bishops but also among others who have important contributions to make to exercises of this kind-such as diocesan chairs of finance and diocesan secretaries. The responsibility for these appointments rested with the Archbishops, not the Appointments Committee. So, it is for us to do better in future and for many others to help us by getting more women into the roles from which these sorts of groups tend to be drawn.
Jane Charman: For clarification the guidelines I am referring to are in GS Misc 963 and covered by Standing Order 116. Since they so helpfully pilot us through all those issues such as diversity, balance, and mix of skills and experience which so often catch the best of us unawares will the Archbishop now direct that in future they should always be used by everyone in making appointments to groups which serve the national church?
Archbishop of Canterbury: I think I will need to take advice on that question; I’m not even sure that I am allowed to direct such a thing and I would need to know that. I do feel looking at the mix on the task groups that I agree with the stress of the question and I apologise for the failure.
Anne Foreman: Since we are beginning to explore and experience new ways of being Synod could some creative thinking go into finding women of wisdom and experience within the church, but not necessarily in the particular roles that are mentioned in the answer? They do exist.
Archbishop of Canterbury: We don’t have to look far, I entirely agree with you and the answer is yes.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Kelvin Holdsworth has 10 Tips on How to Date a Priest.
Brian Orme ChurchLeaders.com 10 Dangerous Myths About Church Growth
Giles Fraser The Guardian I regret that the devil is being made redundant. He’ll be much missed
Christopher Howse The Telegraph A throne like a church spire
A conversation about Time with Br Geoffrey Tristram and the Rt Rev Nick Knisely: Eternity is Real
The Church of England issued this statement today.
Statement on the work of Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint
13 February 2015
The Church of England have today issued the following statement:
“The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are grateful to Lord Green for the contribution and expertise that he has brought to the work of the group on leadership training and formation. The leadership report stands on its own merits: it is about preparation and consideration for appointment to posts of wide responsibility, pastoral care of those being considered and a means of ensuing proper inclusion across the whole range of the church. The report was completed and submitted before the current media focus on historic allegations against HSBC at the time Lord Green was either CEO or Chairman.
In the recent coverage concerning Lord Green none of the reports suggest there is evidence that he personally encouraged or orchestrated any scheme of tax evasion. The Church of England’s opposition to tax evasion or aggressive tax management strategies remains firm. The reported actions of HSBC Switzerland were wrong and there is obviously deep concern about the issues revealed.
Lord Green’s involvement in the production of the report on leadership development has been valuable and the Archbishops thank him for his contribution to this important ongoing work for the Church of England.”
The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15 had its second reading in the House of Lords on Thursday. The verbatim Hansard record of the debate is here.
The remaining House of Lords stages are scheduled for 26 February (Committee stage) and 12 March (Report stage).
There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.
Speech on draft safeguarding legislation by Geoffrey Tattersall
Speech on the report on mission and growth in the rural church by the Bishop of Knaresborough
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Suicides can receive Anglican funerals, says General Synod
No sin, no devil: Church of England debates its baptismal liturgy
There is now an “official website for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality taking place in the Church of England” here.
The information already on the site includes:
FAQs - How are participants selected?
What is the intended outcome of the Shared Conversations?
How is the safety of participants in the Shared Conversations being protected?
St Michael’s House Protocols - to govern the conversations
Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published have been published today.
Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published
12 February 2015
The Church of England has today published a set of resources called ‘Grace and Disagreement’ for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Sexuality.
The first booklet outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church. The second booklet comprises four essays, with varying views, which participants in the conversations are asked to read prior to taking part in the conversations.
The resources are available here.
The available resources are two booklets.
The first booklet, which can be downloaded here, outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church.
The second booklet, download here, comprises four essays, including two on scripture, which participants in the conversations are asked to read.
General Synod met privately in groups this morning.
The afternoon session was entirely devoted to a series of four debates on discipleship and issues arising from the Task Group reports; the official summary is here: General Synod Feb 15: Wednesday afternoon.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and representatives of other member churches press the button to launch the Churches Mutual Credit Union. (photograph by Peter Owen)
The Churches Mutual Credit Union was formally launched at Church House today.
Church House issued this press release to mark the occasion.
Churches Mutual Credit Union formally launched
11 February 2015
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s drive to promote access to responsible credit and savings receives a major boost today with the launch of the Churches Mutual Credit Union Ltd. (CMCU).
The Most Rev Justin Welby joined the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev John Chalmers and the President of the Methodist Conference, The Rev Ken Howcroft, at Church House, central London, to celebrate their respective churches’ collaboration in forming the flagship credit union.
The CMCU, which also includes the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church in Wales, will offer a range of savings and loan products. Fairness will be at the heart of the CMCU’s values. Initially members will be able to invest in the ‘Founder Member’s Bond’ with ordinary savers accounts and loans becoming available in March. In due course CMCU will offer ISA savings accounts.
At least 60,000 individuals, notably ordained ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders, employees and trustees of churches (e.g. Parochial Church Council members) and church charities are eligible to join, along with churches and Anglican and Church of Scotland charities as corporate members.
Individuals can join CMCU from tomorrow (Thursday February 12).
Archbishop Justin said: “My congratulations go to all involved in establishing the Churches Mutual Credit Union as it is launched today.
“Credit unions have the potential to make a transformative contribution to our financial system and I am delighted that it will be possible for clergy, church employees and church trustees to belong to a credit union focused on supporting their particular financial needs.
“As the first supporter to sign CMCU’s application to the regulator in 2013 I am looking forward to being one of the first to sign up as a member when registration opens tomorrow.
“It is a notable strength of CMCU that it brings together churches from England, Scotland and Wales in this shared venture.
“I hope and expect that the experience of belonging to CMCU will encourage clergy and church workers to become increasingly effective advocates for credit unions in their communities.”
Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, CMCU President, and a former President of ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd) said: “After several years of development this is a great day for our churches and a great day for the British credit union sector.
“We recognise the strength of the credit union model and wish to offer that to our ministers and employees. Of immediate interest to many, especially ordained ministers, will be our plans to provide a competitive car loan scheme.
“The Church forms an obvious community with many shared interests and as such it has a natural fit with the idea of a credit union. The recycling of capital within the community, not least for mission, will be of benefit to all.”
The CMCU project began in 2008 and is supported by the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church and the Church in Wales.
The CMCU was given formal authorisation by the regulatory authorities in December, after a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers deposits up to £85,000.
Updated Wednesday and Thursday
Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod Feb 15: Tuesday afternoon
Today’s Questions and Answers (but not the supplementaries) are online.
Press Association (in The Guardian) Church of England questioned over ‘lavish’ spending on bishops’ homes
General synod cartoon by Dave Walker
Carey Lodge Christian Today Archbishop Justin Welby: Evangelism is vital to the Church
Jack Sommers Huffington Post Church Of England Warned It Could Disappear From Parts Of Britain Within A Decade
Church House press release
Archbishop Warda addresses Synod about the persecution of Christians in Iraq
10 February 2015
Christianity in Iraq is going through one of the worst and hardest stages of its long history, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil, Iraq, has told the General Synod.
In an address at Church House, Westminster, Archbishop Bashar Warda said Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee their villages during the past year are in “desperate” need of financial and material support.
The Archbishop’s speech is available here.
Archbishop Justin Welby gave the presidential address to the General Synod this afternoon.
Read the full text of the address here.
In his presidential address to Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about evangelism and witness, one of the three priority areas of his ministry.
The next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham is to be the Right Reverend Paul Williams, it was announced by Number 10 this morning.
Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham: Right Reverend Paul Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published:10 February 2015
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams, BA, Area Bishop of Kensington, in the Diocese of London, for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Roger Butler, BA, on his translation to the See of Durham on 20 January 2014.
Notes for editors
Paul Williams (aged 47) studied at Grey College, University of Durham and trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title curacy at St James Muswell Hill in the Diocese of London from 1992 to 1995 and then as Associate Vicar at Christ Church Clifton, Bristol from 1995 to 1999. From 1999 to 2009 he was Rector of St James Gerrards Cross with Fulmer in South Buckinghamshire and an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford from 2007 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Area Bishop of Kensington, with oversight for the mission of the church across a diverse and dynamic part of West London, covering 6 boroughs. Paul has made a wider contribution in the area of church growth, leadership training, schools development and the church’s ministry among children and younger people.
Paul is married to Sarah, and they have 3 sons, Edward (16), Thomas (14) and Joseph (12). They are also foster carers for their local borough and have a close engagement in wider issues relating to the care of looked-after children. Paul’s leisure interests encompass a number of sports, especially football and cricket. He grew up in the West County where his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was among the first women to be an ordained priest in 1994.
The Bishop of Sheffield has issued this clarification of the financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education.
General Synod begins tomorrow and we are just a day or so away from the initial debate on Resourcing Ministerial Education.
My attention has been drawn to a couple of posts and circulars about RME which attempt to argue that the proposals, if agreed, signal “an end to residential training”.
This is very wide of the mark indeed. I look forward to answering the points raised fully in the Synod debate but it may help Synod members and others to have a few points of clarification in advance.
The RME Report is very clear that we are looking to see a very significant increase in the numbers of ordinands in training and that we see the importance of all current forms of training pathways (including residential training) as part of the mixed economy.
The Report is also very clear that this uplift in the numbers in training cannot be achieved without a significant increase in the total resource allocated (we have worked with a figure of a 50% increase in funding or £10 million per annum to correspond with the potential 50% increase in ordinands).
The overall background to the Report is therefore about growth and confidence in the sector not about erosion. Nor is the RME report about doing more with less resource but about increasing resource commensurate with the number of ordinands.
The anxiety which leads to some predicting (prematurely) the demise of residential training rests on some of the detailed proposals, particularly Proposals 6 and 7.
The Report signals clearly that all of these proposals will be subject to further detailed work and consultation with dioceses and TEI’s in the coming months. General Synod is not being asked to approve these proposals but to approve the general vision and direction of the Report.
Proposal 6 assigns a standard grant to each ordinand and proposes giving the diocese a larger role in decisions about training pathways. At present, the decision about pathways is entirely separate from the consequences in terms of costs. Under the RME proposals the diocese’s decision will be made within a framework in which Bishop’s Guidelines, the options available in training institutions and the candidate’s own vocation and preferences will all have a part. A diocese will be able to invest money not spent on one candidate’s training on another’s training and therefore able to fund candidates on both residential and non-residential pathways (as at present) providing we set the standard grant at the right level. Dioceses will have training budgets which have to be invested in the training of candidates – in others words there will be mitigating factors which will prevent this simply becoming a cost-cutting exercise.
Proposal 7 proposes discontinuing the pooling of maintenance grants for candidates families in training. Please note that we are not proposing discontinuing maintenance grants for families – simply the pooling of these costs (which currently amount to £5 million per annum or 25% of the total pooled IME budget of £20 million). This is a very large investment overall and again, one of the purposes of the proposal is to connect a decision about investment in a candidate’s support with the consequences of that decision. Dioceses will continue to have the discretion to invest the amount they currently invest in candidate support in the support of married students and their families. However dioceses may want to explore with students other means of support for candidates where this is a priority.
There is much still to be determined about how the funding will flow. This will be the subject of further consultation in the coming weeks.
However, we first need to establish through the Synod debates this week whether the General Synod will support the overall vision and acknowledge that additional funding will be needed to make it possible. Only when these prior questions have been answered will it be possible to explore in detail how the arrangements in Proposals 1-12 would work and the effect on institutions.
My own hope would be that as a result of the RME proposals we would see the number of ordinands rise overall and the number of candidates in residential training remain at at least its present level in terms of numbers. I therefore believe that residential training has a secure and long term future as a key part of the mixed economy of training the Church of England offers
Madeleine Davies A response to Stephen Fry
Giles Fraser The Guardian I don’t believe in the God that Stephen Fry doesn’t believe in either
Maurice Glasman Church Times After the bad and the ugly — good economics
As the next General Synod meeting approaches, where several questions have been tabled about the Green Report, there have also been several articles published about it.
Andrew Lightbown has written The Green Report: ‘authors of the apocalypse?’ I think so.
..It is so shot full of assumptions as to beggar belief. It is the product of romantic and lazy thinking, especially with respect to the ‘cult of the leader,’ and the capacity of business school style training to offer appropriate forms of training outside the world of business. (It has many other faults as well – but lets leave these to one side).
I hope the report disappears into the long grass never to be seen again.I strongly believe that the style of management, and leadership, training it proposes will do real and long lasting damage to the Church and, therefore society for, a healthy society needs a healthy church.
My reasoning is that the proposals seek to mimic a mode of training that has caused significant damage in the corporate world…
Mike Higton has adopted a different approach in a series of five articles headed Re-Reading the Green Report, in which
Rather than setting out yet another critique, I want to try for retrieval and repair.
The five articles are:
Andrew Lightbown has a response: Four questions to ask of the Green Review at Synod.
I’ve enjoyed Mike Higton’s blogs on the Green Review. I appreciate his analysis of the text and, the reconciliatory tone he adopts. I agree with the majority of what he says and, I hope Synod take on board his critique.
I have read, and re-read, the report and still find it difficult to accept that its recommendations can do anything other than damage the common good. My starting point has always been that the recommendations are an extension of the authors subjective biases and assumptions.
Below are four sets of questions which I hope might be useful when debating the report at Synod next week…
Forward in Faith has launched a new website. As their own announcement says:
The new Resources section includes detailed advice to PCCs and Parish Priests about passing a Resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, together with leaflets and other resources to facilitate consideration of the issues. There is also a full commentary on the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
Here are links to some of the new materials:
And there is more. Worth a look.
from the Forward in Faith website:
The Ordination of the Bishop of Burnley
Forward in Faith expresses its gratitude to the Archbishop of York for making arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley’s ordination which gave full expression to the Guiding Principles enshrined in the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
The first Guiding Principle speaks of the respect and canonical obedience that lawful office-holders deserve. The Archbishop of York presided in York Minister and the Bishop of Burnley took the oath of due obedience to him. No one present could have been in any doubt as to the Archbishop’s metropolitical authority or the respect in which he is held.
The fourth and fifth Guiding Principles embody commitments to enabling those who, for theological reasons, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests to flourish, and to making sacramental and pastoral provision for us ‘in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing’.
The reference to a ‘degree of communion’ recognizes that full communion cannot exist where some bishops and priests are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of others. For over twenty years traditional catholic priests have been granted ordination by bishops with whom they enjoy full communion (because they can receive the ministry of all the priests whom those bishops ordain). The ordination of women as bishops gives rise to a need for similar provision for ordination to the episcopate. Such arrangements contribute to enabling our priests and bishops to flourish, allowing them to experience at the moment of ordination the full communion with the ordaining bishops that all other ordinands enjoy.
We are grateful that the service in York Minster was nevertheless characterized by a very high degree of communion and fellowship, expressed not least in the fact that all could receive communion together.
The arrangements determined by the Archbishop of York also contributed to ‘mutual flourishing’. We trust that no one imagines that the flourishing of traditional catholic ordinands could involve their being ordained by bishops whose sacramental ministry they cannot receive. If all the male bishops present had participated in the laying on of hands, the Bishop of Stockport (whose gracious presence we acknowledge with gratitude) would therefore have been alone in having to refrain from doing so. It would be difficult to see that as an expression of ‘mutual flourishing’.
Plainly, a future female Archbishop of York could not be the principal consecrator of a traditional catholic bishop. By delegating that ministry to the Bishop of Chichester, Archbishop Sentamu has ensured that there need be no difference between his role on this occasion and that of a future female archbishop. We hope that those who support the ordination of women as bishops will agree with us that any such distinction should be avoided.
+ TONY PONTEFRACT
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Philip North was consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in York Minster today.
Diocese of Blackburn Consecration of the Eleventh Bishop of Burnley at York Minster
The Archbishop of York wrote in the Yorkshire Post today about the arrangements for the consecration: Church can find a way to defeat fear and suspicion.
This article is also available on the Archbishop’s website: Bishops in the Church of God in England.
The Diocese of Blackburn has published an album of photographs.
Madeleine Davies Church Times This shows there’s a future for us, says new traditionalist Bishop
Updated Tuesday morning
As we noted earlier, there appeared to be a discrepancy between what the Telegraph had reported the Bishop of Swindon as saying on Friday and the subsequent article that appeared in the Comment is free article on Saturday, listing him as joint author with Brendan McCarthy. Here is the full text of the emails sent to the Telegraph.
Church of England statement on Thursday
The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England accepts in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is under taken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.
“Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time.
“The Church of England has responded to the latest Government consultation and awaits further consultation on this issue in due course.”
full text of Bishop of Swindon statement to Telegraph on Friday
As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible. That is not my understanding of our position and does not do justice to the response given on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council to the public consultation conducted by the HFEA. That response was largely affirming but properly raised concerns about safety, possible interactions between the mitochondria and nucleus which were not well understood, and not opening the door to modifications of the nuclear DNA.
Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the HFEA for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised.
What is perhaps not well understood – and this may lie behind the caution expressed in your report and headline - is that changing the law to permit mitochondrial replacement will not mean it becomes immediately available in a clinic as soon as the legislation is passed. If Parliament does authorise this technique an Expert Group will continue to monitor and seek evidence around safety and efficacy; only when there is sufficient reassurance around these matters will applications for licencing be admitted.
Church of England later statement following Wellcome Trust intervention:
The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England is aware of the complex ethical issues raised over the possibility of mitochondrial replacement therapy and the extensive scientific research that has been carried out in this field over the years.
“Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.
“We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.
“A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed. For example, the two proposed techniques involved in MRT are not ethically identical - little debate has been given to this. The Church has participated in the debate at every stage, making submissions to consultations run by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the HFEA and the Department of Health as well as participating in relevant seminars and workshops.
“Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy.”
And yet both of them apparently signed this article.
The BBC website has an interview with Brendan McCarthy which you can view here.
The Guardian has an editorial comment (unsurprisingly in favour of the legislative proposal) which includes the following:
The two churches are urging MPs to vote against treatments that will give some parents their only chance of a healthy baby. The Catholics charge a process to create a healthy, wanted embryo from two fertilised eggs – one unwanted, one unsafe – with destroying both. The Church of England, or at least the apparatchik who seems to be speaking for it, is demanding “absolute certainty” that the new procedures will work, a test that would bar any advance in medicine ever. Despite regulations, drafted after years of research and debate, that require separate scrutiny and approval for every individual seeking treatment, both churches shriek about a dash into the unknown.
Organised religion is doing such a bad job of explaining what it doesn’t like about “mitochondrial donation” that it’s tempting to conclude that there is no ethical issue at all, merely the same sort of superstition that once fuelled moral panics about heart transplants. But in calmer mood, the churches could have produced three potentially more serious objections – none of which, however, are persuasive in the end…
The following article is reproduced, with permission, from the January 2015 edition of New Directions.
Positive Mission. Reach out
Philip North identifies some opportunities for community ministry for smaller churches
Our past can inspire. But it can also imprison and restrict. One aspect of our past that we love to recall as Anglo-Catholics is the stories of the great social reformers who fought poverty, stood with the poor and modelled the Incarnational faith that is at the heart of what we believe. People like Fr Jellicoe who invented the housing association through rebuilding the vermin-infested slum that was Somers Town in the thirties. Or Fr Lowder and his heroic ministry caring for the poor and the sick in London’s East End. Or the All Saints Sisters who alone had the courage to feed and care for cholera victims on the streets of Plymouth.
We could go on and on telling these wonderful stories. They can and should inspire us in our own ministry today. But the problem is all too often they don’t. Rather than inspiring they leave us feeling inadequate. Where are the priests and religious today who are founding hospitals, rebuilding entire estates, forming schools and pioneering social care for the most vulnerable? It is so easy to feel weedy and second-rate compared to the heroes of the past.
But of course things are not quite so easy for us today. In a nation with a National Health Service, state education, social services and a highly developed voluntary sector, it is much harder for us to identify needs and work out where the Church fits in. Churches in areas of greatest deprivation tend to be the weakest, with limited resources and small, ageing congregations, and so it can be extremely hard for priests to know where to start or what to do. All too often this can lead to insularity and inactivity, with churches frightened to reach out in any meaningful way beyond their own doors.
More important than ever
And yet community ministry is more essential now than ever. The question that a post-modern generation asks of the Gospel is not ‘Is this true?’ but ‘How is this being lived out?’ Churches grow when they authenticate the Gospel that they proclaim through practical action. The Church of England is obsessed with the search for a superficial ‘relevance.’ Yet we find renewed trust and credibility not by changing our doctrines to suit the perceived needs of a secular culture, but when we stand alongside the poor. This is the lesson that Pope Francis is so powerfully teaching us.
By thinking intelligently and using resources wisely and well, even the smallest churches can do something to reach out the hand of love into the communities they serve. Here are some potential starting places.
It is impossible to meet the needs of a community if we are not clear what they are. Jesus begins most of his encounters through asking questions and listening, and that is a lesson that we need to learn. We are often too quick to leap to conclusions and tell people ‘what they need,’ but without proper listening our conclusions could be way off beam.
There are structured ways of listening. For example, many parishes conduct a community audit in which they carry out intellectual research on the parish, organize round tables of local professionals and arrange community meetings to allow people to have their say. It is a great approach if you have the resources to do it, but frankly most of us don’t.
A more sensible approach might be a Citizens UK style Listening Campaign. Quite simply, a small team of clergy and laypeople initiate as many conversations as possible in which people are asked three questions. What is good about living in this area? What is challenging? What changes would you like to see? When those who are doing the listening start to compare what they have heard, issues will begin to emerge. It was from a simple conversation like that some laypeople from St Michael’s Camden Town realized that there was a pressing need for free legal advice in our area for those who cannot afford solicitors’ fees. The result was a legal drop-in set up with a local law firm which now offers advice to upwards of twenty people a week. Good listening leads to appropriate action.
Making use of buildings
There was a time when the Church started to feel embarrassed about large buildings in deprived communities and it was all the rage clumsily to convert them so that they could be ‘multi-use spaces.’ Fortunately today we have recovered our confidence. The greatest contribution that a local church makes to its community is prayer and worship, and so making the Church building available is the start of effective community ministry.
The best approach is simply to leave the building open as much as possible for people to use, and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which encourages this practice, has plenty of advice on how to overcome the obvious security problems that this will cause. there may be other ways of using the building for arts events, schools, concerts and groups of older people. Church halls also provide space where community groups can meet. Once people realize that the local church is generous with its buildings and wants to see them opened up and used, it is amazing what the results can be.
Witnesses in daily life
A group of older members of a congregation I once cared for were complaining one day about the young families. ‘Everything in this Church is down to us. Why don’t those young ones ever do anything?’ I tried to point out that the younger ones were bringing up children and witnessing to their faith in the workplace, but it did not convince. We find it very hard to see the Kingdom at work in activities that are not very clearly labelled ‘Church.’
Yet Christians have families. They go to work. They live in neighbourhoods. They stand in Post Office queues. They are school governors and volunteers. A much overlooked aspect of community ministry is enabling laypeople to live out their faith and bear witness in these mundane, daily activities. We need to help people to see that their Christian duties do not stop when they walk out of the church door.
Partners and volunteers
Your church may not have the strength to set up dynamic new projects or fundraise for ambitious new pieces of work. But there will certainly be others in your parish who are seeking to do so and need some help. The Vatican II documents talk about working with men and women of goodwill, even if they are not Christians, in order to build the Kingdom.
We can surprisingly easily form friendships and constructive partnerships with those on the front line. We can volunteer our services to schools and community groups. The Church is ideally placed to convene meetings of local community workers and offer support. In these ways we are building our presence without taking on unmanageable responsibilities.
Doing what we can
The more we get stuck into our neighbourhoods, the more the gaps in existing provision will begin to emerge. It is vital not to feel intimidated by the perceived need to do something massively bold or ambitious. Doing one thing well is enough for a smaller church.
It may be housing rough sleepers one night a week in partnership with others in a winter night-shelter. It may be offering lunch one day a week in the school holidays for children who receive free meals at school. It may be setting up a group for parents and toddlers. It may be training a few people as debt counsellors with the local credit union. What you do depends on context. But the pride and sense of purpose that a small church can gain from a community project is out of all proportion to the effort invested. It makes people think afresh about what and who the Church is for.
The interesting thing about community ministry is that people want it. On the whole the voluntary sector, local authorities and schools want the Church involved and will be enormously encouraging. By overcoming our fear, listening and then acting wisely, we can very easily place our churches back at the centre of the communities we serve. And the benefits of that can be transformational.
Joint Statement by Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests on the consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley
Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests are disappointed at the Archbishop of York’s decision not to lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley, and the decision that only three bishops - none of whom ordains women - will lay on hands.
Whilst recognising that this is the Archbishop’s prerogative, the decision is particularly difficult to understand given that the Bishop of Burnley is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Blackburn and as such will share in responsibility for female clergy in the Diocese and for parishes which welcome the sacramental ministry of women. We are especially exercised that the Bishop of Burnley’s own Diocesan Bishop will apparently not be laying on hands.
Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise and commend the Church of England’s affirmation that those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests should be enabled to flourish within its life and structures. However, we are concerned that the Archbishop of York’s decision does not exemplify the commitment “to maintain the highest possible degree of communion possible” which is articulated in the Five Guiding Principles agreed by General Synod and to which Forward in Faith has explicitly assented. This commitment must be lived out in the light of the first two principles:
The House of Bishops has emphasised that the Five Guiding Principles “need to be read one with the other and held in tension, rather than being applied selectively.” Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise that the living out of the principles will be complicated. However, Ministry Division has required that from November 2014, all candidates for ordination should explicitly assent to the Five Guiding Principles. It seems reasonable that such explicit assent should also be demonstrated by all those to be consecrated bishop.
Affirming Catholicism and SCP would therefore welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Burnley and from the Bishop of Blackburn confirming their commitment to the first two of the Five Guiding Principles agreed by the Church of England, and specifically affirming the Bishop of Burnley’s responsibilities towards the female clergy of the Diocese of Blackburn and to the parishes under his care who welcome the ordination of women. We would similarly welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Chester confirming the Bishop of Stockport’s assent to the Five Guiding Principles. Indeed, we believe that a case could be made that all licensed clergy in the Church of England should be expected so to assent.
1 February 2015