Adrian Chiles BBC What I learnt from 46 consecutive days in church
Mark Woods Christian Today 10 bad preaching habits which must be stopped
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today The wonderful world of the Christian Resources Exhibition
Stephen Heard Archbishop Cranmer The way the Church does politics is largely ineffective
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Politics and the CofE
Church Times Leader: A reality check
Rachel Dixon The Guardian Holy nights: camping in a church
Archdruid Eileen Holy, Holy, Holy
Updated yet again 2 June
The story is reported in two national newspapers:
And in one local newspaper:
Manchester Evening News Vicar refuses to baptise child because his parents are not married
The Church of England website page Christening FAQs says
…Can anyone have a Christening service?
Yes, so long as they have not been Baptized already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for Christenings - whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. You do not have to have been a regular churchgoer - as parents, you do not even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is something you are considering for your baby.
However, according to the Mail report, the diocese defended the vicar, thus:
A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester said: ‘Revd Tim Hayes would very much like to encourage the couple to take the Christian initiation of baptism very seriously.
‘At no point has he refused to baptise the child. The Church of England believes that the best place for a child grow is within marriage.
‘The vicar would be happy to help the couple be married and then to baptise their child at no financial cost to them – so that the best outcome can be achieved.
‘We hope the family will receive this offer warmly, but if they would rather not be married, then St John’s church, Dukinfield, will still be happy to offer them a service of thanksgiving.’
The text of Canon B 22 is as follows (thanks Mark B)
B 22 Of the baptism of infants
1. Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child is brought to the church to be baptized.
2. If the minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant, the parents or guardians may apply to the bishop of the diocese, who shall, after consultation with the minister, give such directions as he thinks fit.
3. The minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.
4. No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed.
Christian Today has an article by Mark Woods who is a Baptist, entitled Infant baptism: Is it ever ok for the Church to turn parents away?
Mark incorrectly identifies the relevant diocese, which is, as noted above, Chester.
Update 2 June
Philip Jones has written a detailed legal analysis: Baptism and Godly Living.
Updated 25 May and again 29 May
The Church of Ireland has issued the following press release:
A Statement from the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland Following the Result of the Marriage Referendum (RoI)
The archbishops and bishops of the Church of Ireland wish to affirm that the people of the Republic of Ireland, in deciding by referendum to alter the State’s legal definition of marriage, have of course acted fully within their rights.
The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.
The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may – in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law – continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.
We would now sincerely urge a spirit of public generosity, both from those for whom the result of the referendum represents triumph, and from those for whom it signifies disaster.
Michael Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin has published an interview:
Press Releases / The referendum result is now out. What is your response? Interview with the Archbishop of Dublin on Whit Sunday
Do read the full text of this.
The Church Times carries a comprehensive news report on this, by Gregg Ryan Overwhelming yes vote brings same-sex marriage to Ireland.
Results received at the Central Count Centre for the referendum on the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015.
Latest Summary - national position
Total poll: 1,949,725
Percentage turnout: 60.52%
Invalid ballot papers: 13,818
Valid poll: 1,935,907
Votes in favour: 1,201,607
Votes against: 734,300
Detailed results by constituency are available here.
The exact wording of the referendum question is explained fully here.
Kate Bottley The Guardian I’m the vicar on Gogglebox, but that’s not the only funny thing about me
The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.
GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Friday 10 July
[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]
3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York
Business Committee Report
4.25 pm Approval of appointments
Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration
Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Saturday 11 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations
Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders
2.30 pm – 6.15 pm
Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]
Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’
8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
Sunday 12 July
2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval
Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)
Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate
Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)
Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment
8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016
Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships
Monday 13 July
9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)
Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment
11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council
2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies
4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation
Following on from its decision earlier in the week relating to clergy in civil partnerships, today the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland considered the case of clergy in same-sex marriages.
The General Assembly has taken the first step to extend the provision covering ministers in same sex civil partnerships to those in same sex marriages. The final decision has been deferred until its presbyteries have been consulted under the process known as the Barrier Act. Presbyteries will now debate the matter and return their votes by the end of this year.
Following the historic vote on Saturday, it means congregations may now opt out of traditional church teaching on marriage to call a minister or deacon in a same sex civil partnership, but that provision does not extend to any ministers entering into same sex marriages until the final vote has been taken. Special provisions have been agreed which protect any minister or deacon ordained before May 31st 2009 who is now in a same sex marriage…
The decision is explained by Frank Cranmer this way: Same-sex marriage for Church of Scotland ministers? – not just yet. As Frank notes:
If a majority of presbyteries approves the proposal it will return to the Assembly in 2016 for a final decision. Any wider consideration of the theological understanding of same-sex marriage will not take place until the Theological Forum presents its report at a future date.
The Joint Report of the Theological Forum and the Legal Questions Committee on the matter is available here: the proposed draft amending legislation to extend the ambit of the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Act (passed on Saturday) to include ministers and deacons in same sex marriages is in the Appendices to the Joint Report.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 21 May 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Government efficiency, transparency and accountability
The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.
The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.
Note for editors
Caroline Spelman has been the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. She is a former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a confirmed member of the Church of England.
The Second Commissioner is a Member of Parliament and answers to Parliament for the business of the Commissioners. Mrs Spelman succeeds Sir Tony Baldry, who did not stand for re-election in the recent general election.
There is a much longer press release from the Church Commissioners, which is copied below the fold.
The Church Commissioners welcome the announcement of Caroline Spelman as Second Church Estates Commissioner
The Church Commissioners for England have today welcomed the Crown appointment of the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner, replacing the Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry.
The role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner is to provide a link between Government, Parliament and the established Church. The Second Church Estates Commissioner answers oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters in the House of Commons, is a member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee and steers Church of England legislation through the House of Commons. She is also an ex-officio member of the General Synod and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Board of Governors.
Welcoming Caroline Spelman’s appointment, Andrew Brown, Secretary Chairman to the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Caroline as the Second Church Estates Commissioner and look forward to working with her. Caroline has a strong commitment to the church and its mission to local communities. This is vital to the Church Commissioners as we carry out the work and mission of the Church of England.”
Commenting on her appointment Caroline Spelman, said: “I am honoured to be asked to undertake this role as the Church is important for the future of our country and I want to help it navigate the challenges of the modern world with the support of our parliamentarians.”
Caroline Spelman has held a number of leading parliamentary posts, including from 2010-12 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She has also been Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Shadow Minister for Women, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Shadow Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government. She has also been a member of a number of Parliamentary committees, including the Environmental Audit Select Committee and Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill. She has represented the Parliamentary constituency of Meriden since 1997, a West Midlands seat containing a wide socio-economic mix, which is in both the Birmingham and Coventry dioceses.
Caroline is a former agriculture specialist, holds a BA in European studies from Queen Mary College London, is Vice Chair of Tearfund and Patron of Welcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity.
A committed and lifelong Anglican, she worships at Knowle Parish Church in her Meriden constituency, has been a longstanding member of the Christians in Parliament all party group and joined the Ecclesiastical Committee in 2014. In March 2014 she initiated a House of Commons debate on the contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England.
Caroline likes choral singing and is chair of the Parliamentary Choir.
Background on Caroline Spelman:
Elected MP, Meriden, 1997
Opposition Whip 1998-99;
Board member Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) 1997-2001;
Opposition Spokesperson for:
Women’s Issues 1999-2001;
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-03;
Shadow Minister for Women 2001-04;
Shadow Secretary of State for:
the Environment 2003-04,
Local and Devolved Government Affairs 2004-05,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government 2005-07, 2009-10;
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2010-12
Past Select committees
Science and Technology 1997-98,
Environmental Audit 2013-,
Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2014,
Ecclesiastical Committee 2014-
Queen Mary College, London (BA European studies 1980)
Notes to Editors:
The Church Commissioners for England
The Church Commissioners manage an investment fund of £6.7 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio, including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community. The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:
The Church Commissioners annual report can be viewed here.
Updated again Thursday evening
Judgement was given yesterday in the case of Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Ors, in the Northern Ireland County Court.
Some writers think this is a good decision:
Joshua Rozenberg Guardian The ‘gay cake’ ruling is a victory for equality in Northern Ireland
Mary Hassan at Huffington Post Finally: A Victory for the LGBT Community in Northern Ireland
Colin Murray Ashers Bakery Loses “Gay Cake” Discrimination Case
But other commentators are critical:
Savi Hensman at Ekklesia Ashers bakery ruling sows confusion about discrimination
Peter Ould at Psephizo The ‘Gay Cake’ ruling
Neil Addison Ashers Bakery and the “Gay Cake”
Mark Woods at Christian Today Ashers’ Bakery: The real loser here is a tolerant society
The Christian Institute reports Ashers owners speak out for first time about ruling, and that link also leads to a video interview.
The Telegraph has this editorial opinion: Icing on the cake as well as Bert and Ernie gay marriage cake ruling ‘banishes religion from commercial world’ and The ‘gay cake’ ruling against a Christian bakery could lead to even more discrimination
Frank Cranmer at Law & Religion UK has this: Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd & Ors – an analysis
Simon Jenkins has written this for the Guardian The moral of the gay wedding cake row: the law can’t create tolerance
Alasdair Henderson at UK Human Rights Blog Conscience and cake
The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.
The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is before 11 July, Rachel will fill the vacancy created by the Bishop of Leicester’s retirement and become the first female Lord Spiritual.
Bishop Tim’s retirement has another consequence as he has been the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual for the last six years. It was announced yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, to be the new convenor. The announcement includes this job description: “The Convenor ensures that the work of the Lords Spiritual is coordinated and supported and that the interests of the Bishops’ Bench are represented fully in and outside Parliament. The Convenor is the primary point of contact and liaison on behalf of the Bishops’ Bench for the party leaderships in the Lords, Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, officials and business managers.”
The General Assembly of the [presbyterian] Church of Scotland is meeting in Edinburgh. On Saturday it was announced that:
The Church of Scotland has voted in favour of allowing people in same sex civil partnerships to be called as ministers and deacons.
The historic decision was made by the General Assembly on the Mound in Edinburgh today, where the motion was passed by 309 votes in favour and 182 against.
The outcome is the culmination of years of deliberation within the Church. The motion has faced a series of debates and votes before the final decision was arrived at this afternoon. This included 31 of the Church’s presbyteries endorsing the move to 14 who opposed it.
This means the Church has adopted a position which maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to ‘opt out’ if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership.
And the announcement continued:
Co-ordinator of the Principal Clerk’s office, Very Rev David Arnott, said: “The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decided today to allow individual Kirk Sessions the possibility of allowing a Nominating Committee to consider an application from a minister living in a civil partnership. During a vacancy a Kirk Session may, but only if it so wishes, and after due deliberation, agree to a Nominating Committee accepting an application from such a minister. No Kirk Session may be coerced into doing so against its own wishes. This decision was in line with a majority of presbyteries who voted in favour of such a move.”
John Bingham at the Telegraph reports on the potential significance of this for the Church of England. See Church of Scotland plan for gay ministers offers possible ‘template’ for Anglicans .
…South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.
The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”
…The Rev Sally Hitchiner, an Anglican priest and founder of “Diverse Church”, a group for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, said the Church of England should “look carefully” at the Scottish arrangements.
“It sounds very similar to the Church of England’s policy on remarriage of divorcees and I think that works very well and actually I think that protects conservatives,” she said.
“In the conservative wing of the Church of England people genuinely are concerned that in 10 or 20 years they won’t be able to hold those views.
“If we can find a model like the Church of Scotland I think it could protect conservatives within the church while still allowing those of us who want to marry people of the same sex and indeed be married ourselves we should do so.”
The item on the BBC radio programme mentioned above can be found 23 minutes in via this link.
On Thursday, the Assembly will consider whether to extend this provision to those in same-sex marriages.
Two of the new ones are especially noteworthy:
Bishop Steven Croft Advising Mr Cameron: lessons from an ancient kingdom
A study day on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner taught Malcolm Doney the link between poetry and theology; he writes in Church Times: Grey beard — but no loon.
Claire Jones Come to this table – if you’re one of us
The Bishops of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and of Hertford were consecrated at Westminster Abbey on Ascension Day. Rowan Williams preached the sermon.
The Church Commissioners have released their Annual Report for 2014 today. There is also a press release, highlighting a “total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014”, and this is copied below the fold.
The report includes an overview from Andreas Whittam Smith, the First Church Estates Commissioner, which includes the following paragraphs on the Archbishops’ Task Groups.
By coincidence, one of the factors that contributed to the Church Commissioners’ difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been the subject of lively discussion in recent months. I refer to the principle of inter-generational equity, which means that the Commissioners, advised by their actuaries, should only distribute such sums to their beneficiaries as will enable the value of the endowment to be maintained in real terms through time. This policy has been followed rigidly for more than 20 years.
Now Task Groups, set up by the Archbishops, have made ambitious proposals to equip the Church for the future. The Church Commissioners strongly welcome these initiatives. However, financing such plans would likely require the Commissioners to provide additional funds over and above their normal distributions.
The arguments in favour and against such a course were fully explored in a paper presented to General Synod in February 2015. A distinction was drawn between ‘bad’ over-distribution and ‘good’ over-distribution. The good version, which is now envisaged, is undertaken for a clear purpose, in response to plans that are evidence based, is fully costed and is entered into with the agreement and understanding of all parties and there are safeguards in place. It should be seen as an investment in the church to encourage growth. In addition a successful outcome would have, as a by-product, an increase in the Church’s financial strength.
Accordingly at General Synod in February, I moved a motion that invited members to ‘support the Commissioners’ in releasing additional funds to support changes to ‘equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission’. Large majorities approved the motion…
The paper referred to is GS 1981 Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity, and the motion carried by Synod was:
‘That this Synod,
welcoming GS 1981; and
noting that the funds of the Church Commissioners are a permanent endowment, held in perpetuity to support the Church of England as it seeks to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation,
support the Commissioners, in consultation with the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, giving consideration to the basis on which they might, for a limited period, release additional funds in order to support changes that will equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission and ministry over the coming generations.’
Barney Thompson has written about the report for The Financial Times: Church of England blessed by property boom.
James Moore Independent Church to splash out on clergy as booming investments pass £6.7bn
Tim Wyatt Church Times Commissioners use shareholder clout to combat excessive pay deals
Church Commissioners announce total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014
15 May 2015
The Church Commissioners for England have announced their 2014 financial results with the publication of their annual report.
The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2014 was 14.4 per cent. The Commissioners exceeded their long-term target rate of RPI + 5 percentage points. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.8% per annum. After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £6.7billion at the end of 2014.
In 2014 the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was almost £215 million accounting for 16% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Independent research carried out at the end of 2014 suggested the Commissioners were one of the largest charitable givers in the UK and the eighth largest globally.* Commissioner funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.
The Commissioners expended £123 million in supporting pensions for retired clergy.
Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “Through continued strong ethical and sustainable financial performance we help provide for the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church of England. We continue to identify and help fund the Church’s work and mission in communities throughout England.”
Examples of funding provided in the report include:
Supporting “Sensing Salvation” in Ely which works with two non-church schools running innovative arts projects
Providing funding in Bristol where Rachel Hepburn’s mission work is funded by a grant to act as a community line worker in a new housing development
Funding for the Burnside Youth and Community centre in Langley. A grant supports the work of the Children’s centre activities, running holiday play schemes and providing a safe, stimulating and positive environment judged to be Outstanding by OFSTED
Financial support of fresh expressions of Church such as the Holy Ground service at Exeter Cathedral
Growth and diversification:
Notable performance was delivered in property, private credit and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and totalled just under £2bn at the end of 2014 with an average return of 27%, predominantly from capital growth, including realised gains on sales.
The private credit portfolio which started in 2012 saw two new commitments in 2014 totalling £51million. In total these strategies generated a combined return of 10.2% in 2014.
The Church Commissioners, with the recent purchase of forests in Scotland and Wales, also became the largest private owner of forestry in the UK. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 22.3% in 2014.
The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2014 the Commissioners appointed Edward Mason as Head of Responsible Investment, underscoring their commitment to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.
The Church Commissioners have just won the Best implementation of Responsible Investment category at the Portfolio Institutional Awards 2015 where they were praised for strategic engagement with companies, their record on sustainability and the integration of ESG into investment decision-making.
Notes to Editors:
The annual report can be accessed in full here.
The Church Commissioners have also published a 2014 Annual Review, sharing stories of support across the country for the Church of England’s mission and ministry. Case studies include funding for mission in new housing and other development areas, parish ministry and mission, and supporting major growth and change projects in Dioceses.
The annual review is available here.
The responsible investment review can be viewed at here.
In 2014 the Church Commissioners funded 28 projects from the £2.9m funding for developing Church growth in deprived areas. Sensing Salvation is one such example of an innovative arts project. In this blog the Revd Paul West talks about this innovative art project in the Ely diocese.
Further examples of funding provided by the Commissioners can be found in the Resourcing Mission Bulletins.
*City AM World Charity Index named the Church Commissioners as the eighth largest charitable donor globally and the second largest in the UK after the Wellcome Trust.
The Crown Nominations Commission held its second meeting to consider the vacancy in the see of Oxford on Monday and Tuesday of this week (11 and 12 May) but failed to make a decision. The Archbishop of Canterbury has today issued this statement:
From the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Oxford
Vacancy in the See of Oxford
An update from the Archbishop of Canterbury - Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission
You will be aware that the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) met on the 11th and 12th May to consider the nomination of the next Bishop of Oxford and to meet with possible candidates.
I am writing to advise that the Commission has been unable to discern the candidate whom God is calling at this stage to be the next Bishop of Oxford. Under the election rules under which we operate, in a secret ballot no candidate received the required number of votes for nomination.
Although the CNC has a number of meetings scheduled for later this year they are reserved for the consideration of other Dioceses. It is unfortunately impossible to add further demands on the time of the voluntary members of the CNC, who have their own jobs as well. The Oxford CNC will therefore reconvene on the 4th February 2016 with the second meeting on the 7th/8th March 2016. Bishop Colin will continue to provide oversight to the diocese as he has done over the past few months during the interregnum and I am very grateful to him for this.
Many of you will have had the CNC in your prayers and I thank you for them. I will continue to keep the diocese in my prayers over the next months. This will not be the news that you wanted to hear but please take this as a sign of the CNC’s commitment to finding the right person to be your next bishop.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Readers may recall this report: Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.
Today, Julian Hubbard, who is the Director of Ministry Division at the Archbishops’ Council, has published an article about the planned new programme of research in support of the programme for Resourcing Ministerial Education.
Read the article here: Developing strategic capacity for dioceses in ministerial education.
Read the more detailed paper submitted to the Ministry Council here: Developing Diocesan Strategic Capacity: Research Insight.
The covering note from Julian Hubbard concludes this way:
…The proposals are for long term research and are not about quick results. The RME work has made evident what many of us knew, that the church is changing rapidly and training needs are following suit. To capture this as well as doing justice to what we have inherited in terms of theological understanding of ministry takes time. We want to pursue the research collaboratively with dioceses and TEIs. An important part of the initial research was to ask for what research TEIs had already done and we want to continue that relationship in the next stages. This will be in conjunction with the theological conversation on expressing a theology of ministry which has begun between a group of bishops, theologians and theological educators which will come to fruition at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September 2015.
No doubt the commentary on the proposed research will raise again the question whether the current research findings are an adequate basis for proceeding with the proposals. I would suggest that those who ask that question actually look at what the proposals are: they do not favour any particular pathway on abstract or ideological grounds. They are appreciative of what each of the forms of training can offer and confident that they can all make a contribution. They allow the exercise of intelligent judgement about the needs of the individual candidate and the hopes and needs of the church in relation to them. The intelligence about such decisions will grow as the body of data and information develops through the research.
Staff at the Ministry Division look forward to supporting dioceses and TEIs in this process both through conducting the research and offering consultancy and advice about pathways and candidates. There is sufficient basis for moving forward to the next stage. The alternative of waiting ten or even five years so that we have a “final” view is not a reality: when would such a final view ever be achieved? And in the meantime, candidates are still subjected to a regime of regulations which are less and less applicable and might be wasting the valuable resource of their time, as well as money. And the urgency which is widely agreed as a necessary response to the situation of the Church of England is lost, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?
The Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Ministry Council officers say quality research is lacking which includes this:
…The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, is among those who have expressed concern about the RME report (Letter, 27 March; News, 17 April). On Wednesday, he said that the admission of “several key limitations” was “very welcome indeed”. He said that the authors were “reluctant to acknowledge just how disabling the criticisms are for the overall strength of RME”.
He also questioned whether the new research proposed would solve the problems identified in the report: “The three core concepts they want to clarify are the nature of ministry, education, and the nature of contemporary society - vast and complex issues, indeed, which will not be decisively ‘clarified’ by the research they propose. . .
“What is necessary, first and foremost, is a vision of what theological education for the whole Church - for the whole people of God - ought to look like. The abiding impression that this document leaves, for all its good intentions, to my mind, is that we are not confident on theological vision as a Church, but much too trusting in the security and decisiveness of empirical research.”
Updated again 17 May
Lambeth Palace has released the following statement concerning Bishop Michael Perham, the retired Bishop of Gloucester.
Statement on retired Bishop of Gloucester
Monday 11th May 2015
Statement in relation to the Rt Revd Michael Perham, retired Bishop of Gloucester.
Following a police investigation concerning Bishop Michael Perham last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. With the full co-operation of the Bishop an independent risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and as a result Bishop Michael will be able to take up Ministry in retirement, and the postponed farewells for him in Gloucester can now take place.
We will be making no further comment on this matter.
The Diocese of Gloucester has this announcement: Bishop Michael
…Statement from Rt Revd Michael Perham on the conclusion of the church process
11 May 2015
“I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive.
“The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions.
“I am, of course, immensely heartened that I can now return to ministry in my retirement. I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process.
“Now I can look forward to a celebration in Gloucester to bring my ministry there as its bishop for 10 years to a proper conclusion and, afterwards, to a new phase of being a priest and bishop in active retirement.”
Statement from the Diocese of Gloucester in response to news from Lambeth Palace
11 May 2015
“The Diocese of Gloucester welcomes today’s statement from Lambeth Palace concerning the Rt Revd Michael Perham. Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. We are gladdened by today’s news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement. We look forward to marking Bishop Michael’s committed and dedicated ministry to this diocese, with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 13 June.”
Update 17 May
There is a BBC report including an interview with Bishop Michael:
Ex-Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham calls for law change.
Rachel Giles Church Times Health: Blessed, but not with a child
Patrick Comerford The Irish Times Same-sex marriage: Why are faith groups so concerned about civil legislation?
Christopher Howse The Telegraph Women building a library in exile
Last week, the Church Times carried an article by William Fittall, under the headline Plans to proclaim the faith afresh with the strapline There is no cause to be fatalistic about church decline.
This was also published on the official church website, where it had the headline Reform and renewal - a guide to the debate.
Church Times readers attempting to follow the discussions about the emerging “Reform and Renewal” programme in the Church of England may, by now, be somewhat baffled. There have been suggestions that the proposals are theologically lightweight, based on questionable research, too managerial and even that one of the undergirding concepts – discipleship – is not to be found in the New Testament!
As the Archbishops said in their paper to the Synod, the challenge of reform and renewal is spiritual. We shall ultimately be building on sand unless what we do is underpinned by prayer and an unshakable confidence in God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or conceive.
The starting point for the programme is a recognition that the Church of England’s capacity to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation will be decisively eroded unless the trend towards older and smaller worshipping communities is reversed. Some seem reluctant to face up to the consequences of this, while others doubt that anything will make much difference. Such fatalism was absent when the proposals were discussed by the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod…
This week Paul Handley reports in the Church Times on a symposium held last Friday in Oxford, Oxford group challenges talent quest.
THE idea that future leaders of the Church of England should be talent-spotted and groomed came in for sustained criticism at a symposium in Oxford last Friday.
The title of the symposium was “Apostolic Leadership for an Apostolic Church”. It had been convened by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, in response to the “literally hundreds” of letters and emails he had received after his critique of the Green report…
One of the participants, Andrew Lightbown, published this article: Questions over episcopal leadership post Green and RME.
It has been interesting watching how ‘head office’ is reacting to critics of the raft of reports recently issued on behalf of the Church of England.
For many it feels as though conversion about, and participation in, decision making processes are simply not welcome.
Critics are all too quickly rebuffed: William Fittall, writing in the Church Times last week (1st May) was keen to dismiss Alister McGrath’s analysis of Resourcing Ministerial Education and, the Green Report. Mark Hart’s analysis of From Anecdote to Evidence was, in the previous edition, given short shift by those ‘in the know.’
Now it could be that all the recent reports are spot on in their analysis and, that those who wish to critique or participate in wider discussion are overly worried.
But, this in itself should not be a reason to close down conversation, for the real issue has now become the style of leadership to which the church is becoming accustomed…
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon has been interviewed in the Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian.
H/T to Episcopal Café who reported on this earlier: An interview with Archbishop Idowu-Fearon
John Bingham The Telegraph Leader of campaign against women bishops is made a bishop in bid to avert CofE split
Tim Wyatt Church Times C of E honours its pledge to appoint a ‘headship’ Evangelical as bishop
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today ‘Male headship’ campaigner appointed as CofE bishop
statement by WATCH (Women and the Church)
John Martin The Living Church Prebendary Thomas Steps Up
Press release from the Number 10 website.
Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone: Roderick Charles Howell Thomas
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 5 May 2015
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of Roderick Charles Howell Thomas to the Suffragan See of Maidstone in the Diocese of Canterbury.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Charles Howell Thomas, BSc (Econ), Vicar of Elburton, to the Suffragan See of Maidstone, in the Diocese of Canterbury. He will succeed the Right Reverend Graham Cray who became leader of the Archbishops’ Fresh Expressions Team in 2009. The See has been vacant since then. In December 2014, the Dioceses Commission agreed to a proposal from the Archbishops to fill the See in order to provide a bishop who takes the conservative evangelical view on male headship.
Notes to editors
The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995.
From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.
Prebendary Roderick Thomas is married to Lesley and they have 3 children. Prebendary Roderick Thomas has chaired Reform, a network for conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, since 2007. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.
There is also a press release from Lambeth Palace, copied below the fold.
Press release from Lambeth Palace
Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone announced
Tuesday 5th May 2015
The Revd Prebendary Roderick Thomas will be the next Bishop of Maidstone.
Downing Street has today announced that the next Bishop of Maidstone will be the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, currently Vicar of Elburton in the Diocese of Exeter.
The appointment of Rod Thomas follows a meeting of the Dioceses Commission in December at which unanimous agreement was given to a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the see, which has been vacant since 2009, with a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.
This flowed from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013- GS Misc 1079). In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see, the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.
The See of Maidstone is in the Diocese of Canterbury and Rod Thomas will be available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral. However, given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.
Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.
The date of Rod Thomas’s consecration is yet to be confirmed. He succeeds the Rt Revd Graham Cray, who was Bishop of Maidstone from 2001 to 2009 and Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions from 2009 to 2014.
Welcoming the news, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am personally delighted that Rod Thomas has agreed to take up the post of Bishop of Maidstone. Rod has served the church tirelessly, both as a parish priest and as a member of the General Synod, and engaged constructively and graciously with those of differing theological views. It is my hope and prayer that Rod’s distinctive ministry as Bishop of Maidstone will enable those with a conservative evangelical view of headship to flourish and to be assured that the Church of England has a respected place for them.”
The Reverend Prebendary Rod Thomas said: “It is both a privilege and a challenge to be asked to become a Bishop in the Church of England. The prospect of serving as the Bishop of Maidstone is similarly both exciting and daunting, and so I ask for prayer that God will give me the necessary strength and wisdom. My hope for the Bishop of Maidstone’s new role is that it will help to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ; encourage church members in their faith and witness; and generate widespread confidence in our commitment, as a church, to mutual flourishing.”
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said: “In arriving at the arrangements which have now led to three women being nominated as bishops, it was clear that the voice of those taking a conservative position on male headship also needed to be honoured. This was in the context of the five guiding principles which seek to make space within the Church of England for those of differing theological convictions to continue to flourish. It was this concern which led to the identification of the See of Maidstone for a bishop who holds to that conservative position.
“Having chaired the Steering Committee which produced the legislation and accompanying arrangements, I am very pleased that Rod Thomas has been nominated for this appointment. Rod was himself a member of that Committee; he played a very full and constructive part in our discussions, and spoke generously about the outcome in the crucial General Synod debate in July 2014. I look forward to working with Rod again, this time within the fellowship of the College of Bishops.”
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Wherever possible, and so that our divisions may not get in the way of the world seeing and receiving Christ, the church needs to learn a new spirit of generosity where different views on some issues are able to live alongside each other in as much communion as possible. I therefore welcome the appointment of Rod Thomas as the new Bishop of Maidstone and look forward to working with him in the Chelmsford diocese where I hope he will serve as an Assistant Bishop. His presence and ministry will give confidence to many in the church and show that it is possible to disagree well.”
About the Revered Prebendary Roderick Thomas
The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.
Rod Thomas is married to Lesley and they have three children. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.
Notes to Editors
Updated 8, 14, 17 and 20 May
Two people so far have written about their experiences at the first regional session of the Shared Conversations. This involved dioceses in the South West. The second session takes place this coming week for Yorkshire dioceses.
Rose Grigg has written here: Reflections on the first Shared Conversations.
Erika Baker has written: The Shared Conversations which I have published on TA.
If further articles by participants appear, I will of course add links to them.
Jeremy Pemberton has written about the East Midlands Conversation: Shared Conversations – Talking in Circles
Richard Coles has two contributions, one is a sound clip of his Radio 2 Pause for Thought, the other is a written one, both can be found here on the Changing Attitude blog for Shared Conversations.
Graham Rutter Reflection on Shared Conversations
The Church Times carries a news report today, Shared Conversations: praise for three days in hotel talking of sexuality and there is also Leader Comment: Sharing and Caring.
Mention is made in the above of a commentary from Anglican Mainstream. The full text of the latter can be found here.
Earlier, Ruth Gledhill had written this report for Christian Today: Church of England begins ‘shared conversations’ on human sexuality - can it reach ‘good disagreement’?
The Report of Proceedings of the February 2015 meeting of General Synod is now available online. This comprises a verbatim transcript of the complete proceedings. It also includes the questions (and their answers) that were for written answer and those which were not reached in the time available.
General Synod will be dissolved after the July 2015 group of sessions, and elections for a new Synod held between mid-July and mid-October. The Church of England website has a series of pages about these elections.
I reported here on this week’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester that Mr Sharpe was not an “employee” of the Bishop of Worcester or a “worker” for the purposes of employment law. I also linked to some early reactions.
Law & Religion UK has now published this analysis by Russell Sandberg of the Cardiff Law School: Not a Sharpe Turn: a note on Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester.
Simon Jenkins Reform Magazine Jumble sales of the apocalypse: When prayer goes wrong
Lisa Kelly Ignatian Spirituality Dude, You Can’t Fail!
Steven Croft The Top Ten Proverbs for Twitter and Facebook
We reported in March on the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the suffragan see of Islington to provide a “bishop for church-plants”. The Dioceses Commission has now given its approval to the proposal.
The official press release is here, and is copied below.
Go ahead for church planting bishop for See of Islington
01 May 2015
The Dioceses Commission has given its approval to revive the See* of Islington paving the way for a new bishop to lead on church planting within the Diocese of London.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Commission expressing his strong support for the new See. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, formally submitted a proposal to the Commission laying out the support of both the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop’s Council.
Most bishops exercise their ministry within a defined geographical area. The proposal to revive the See of Islington is innovative as the bishop would hold a particular brief for church-planting initiatives primarily in the Diocese of London but to provide advice for other dioceses across England as invited to do so by the local bishop.
The Commission first looked at the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the See of Islington at its meeting in September last year before it was being discussed by the London Diocesan Synod.
The Bishop of London has emphasised that the new bishop would be accountable to him and be part of the London Diocese’s senior team, playing his/her part in carrying out episcopal functions, such as confirmations, in the diocese and in particularly in supporting clergy in pioneer ministry.
Professor Michael Clarke, Chair of the Dioceses Commission, said: “The Commission looked very carefully at the Bishop of London’s proposal, and, in the light of clarification of the intended role of the new bishop, gave it a green light. As with our recent scheme radically reshaping dioceses in West Yorkshire, we are keen to play our part in adapting the Church’s structures to meet current mission needs.”
Following the Commission’s consent, the way is now open to appoint someone with a view to the new bishop being consecrated later in the year.
See also Diocese of London.
Notes for editors
The Dioceses Commission has particular responsibility for episcopal oversight across the Church of England and suffragan sees, such as this one, cannot normally be filled without its agreement. The creation of wholly new sees would nevertheless also require the consent of the General Synod. In this case the See of Islington had been created in the late 19th Century but had been left unfilled since 1923.
Church-planting was given a stimulus by the seminal 2004 Church Report Mission Shaped Church. This report recognised that ‘the existing parochial system alone is no longer able fully to deliver its underlying mission purpose…’ and that ‘a variety of integrated missionary approaches is required’ with ‘a mixed economy of parish churches and network churches.’ It described church plants as ‘creating new communities of Christian faith as part of the mission of God to express God’s kingdom in every geographic and cultural context.’ It is estimated that there are c.1,000 such Fresh Expressions across the Church of England attended by c.30,000 people. (See here.)
The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board last night announced a £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.
30 April 2015
The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board have today announced the £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.
From today neither body, nor the CBF Church of England funds, will make any direct investments in any company where more than 10% of its revenues are derived from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands.
This announcement coincides with the adoption of a new climate change policy recommended by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) that sets out how the three national investing bodies (NIBs) will support the transition to a low carbon economy…
The full policy is here.
Richard Burridge, the deputy chair of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, writes about the new policy: CofE national investing bodies and transition to low carbon economy.
Pilita Clark Financial Times Church of England blacklists coal and tar sands investments
Adam Vaughan The Guardian Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels