The World Council of Churches recently held a consultation on the refugee crisis in Europe. This press release was issued before the meeting: Refugee crisis to be discussed in Munich by 35 bishops and other church leaders from 20 countries
The international refugee crisis will be the focus of a consultation of 35 bishops and church leaders from 20 countries, to be held on 29 October in Munich, Germany. There will be representatives from churches in the most affected regions and from most of the church families in Europe: Orthodox, Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Methodist and representatives from the Middle East and Africa, as well as representatives from ecumenical organizations and from church-based humanitarian and refugee organizations.
They have been invited by the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, and the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who is also chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)…
Afterwards, ACNS reported: Church leaders urge “safe passage” to those seeking refuge
The suffragan bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr David Hamid, has joined other bishops and church leaders from a number of denominations in calling for safe passage to those seeking refuge.
The recommendation is one of a number contained in a communiqué issued following a church leaders’ consultation in the German city of Munich…
The full text of the communiqué can be found on the World Council of Churches website.
Also, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has published a roundup of actions being taken by churches and Christian aid agencies: Churches respond to the refugee crisis.
And here’s a report on one specific activity: Anglicans to support reception centre for refugees at remote lighthouse on Lesvos.
Michael Ainsworth Law & Religion UK Hymns (and other things) to avoid?
Giles Fraser Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 On being called “Father”, Bishops in the Lords, & other clerical absurdities
Simon Rundell “Call No Man Father…”
Updated 10 November to include second circulation papers (GS 2009 and GS Misc 1128)
the first circulation both circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 24-25 November are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.
GS 2005 - Agenda
GS 2006 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 2008 - Report of the Church Buildings Review Group [Wednesday]
GS 2010 - Standing Orders (October 2015)
GS Misc 1123 - Constitutions of the Committees of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1127 - Released for Mission
GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure
The final agenda and the papers for next month’s two day inaugural meeting of the tenth General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.
HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
30 October 2015
HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
Synod to debate Migrant Crisis and Church Buildings report and review progress of the Reform and Renewal programme
Her Majesty the Queen will inaugurate the tenth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 24th November.
The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap (Preacher to the Papal Household) will preach.
The Agenda for the short meeting of the Synod, which will follow the inauguration, is published today along with the papers.
The Synod has 468 voting members of whom 59 (including the 42 diocesan bishops) are ex officio and 409 have been elected this autumn (9 suffragan bishops, 200 clergy, 200 laity). The House of Bishops has 53 members, the House of Clergy 202 and the House of Laity 213.
53% of the 409 elected members were not members of the last Synod when it was dissolved in July (up from the 2010 figure of 45%). In total 46% of the membership of this Synod is new. The percentage of women on General Synod has increased from 28% in 2005 to 32% in 2010 and 37% in 2015.
The male/female balance has changed from 69/31 in 2005 to 63/37 in 2010 to 58/42 now. For the first time there are slightly more elected women than men in the House of Laity — 50.5% to 49.5% (in 2005 40% of elected laity were women and in 2010 46%). In the House of Clergy, the number of women elected has increased to 32% (from 22% in 2005 and 29% in 2010). Three of the 53 members of the House of Bishops are women: the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, the Rt Revd Libby Lane and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.
The average age of the 378 lay and clergy members elected by the dioceses is slightly lower than in 2010, 51 as against 52 among the clergy and 56 as against 58 among the laity. The youngest member of the Synod is Rhian Ainscough, newly elected from the Leicester diocese, who is 19. The longest serving member is David Ashton from Leeds diocese, who has served continuously since 1972.
Tuesday 24 November
Following the service in Westminster Abbey the Queen will address the Synod in Church House. Synod business begins on the Tuesday afternoon. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury. After further formal business, there will be a presentation from the leaders of the Archbishops’ Reform and Renewal Programme.
The presentation will cover the work-streams on Resourcing the Future, Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Simplification of church legislation and a newly-launched work stream on Lay leadership. Synod members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the work stream leaders. There will also be the usual Synod question time.
Wednesday 25 November
On the morning of 25 November, there will be a short presentation from the Archbishop of York on the effects of global warming which he viewed on his recent visit to the South Pacific. Following that the Synod will debate a motion moved by the bishop of Durham on the Migrant Crisis. The wording of the Motion and the accompanying background paper will be published nearer to the debate given the rapidly-evolving context. However, it is likely to focus on the responses of the church in parishes and dioceses and to call on the Synod to continue working closely with the government and local authorities to maximise support for those most in need.
After some legislative business, there will be a presentation of the results of recent research on the “Public Perceptions of Jesus”, which was commissioned by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and HOPE (an ecumenical organisation that brings churches together in mission). The report is an important resource for evidence-based mission.
On Wednesday afternoon the Synod will debate a motion, moved by the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, welcoming the recently published report of the Church Buildings Review, commending it to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and paving the way for the necessary legislative process, once the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have taken decisions following the current consultation period. The report was produced as one of the elements of the Reform and Renewal programme.
The Synod will conclude with a farewell from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Secretary General, Mr William Fittall who will be retiring at the end of November after 13 years in post. Mr Fittall will also give a farewell address to the Synod.
Immediately after the end of the Synod the House of Laity will hold a hustings meeting for the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair. The results of those elections and of the elections for the Prolocutors (Chairs of clergy) for the Canterbury and York Provinces will be known just before Christmas.
 This includes a small number of members who were not in the last Synod but have served previously.
One of the four motions that were under consideration was submitted by the Bishop of Portsmouth, but in the even this motion was not voted upon. Its wording was:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth to move, as an amendment to the motion in the name of the Lord Privy Seal, at the end to insert “but this House regrets that the draft Regulations fail to take account of concerns about their short-term impact on working families and individuals currently receiving tax credits, and calls on the Government to consult further on the draft Regulations and revisit their impact.”
There were three bishops who spoke:
The voting record of the bishops was as follows (h/t Law and Religion UK):
Forward in Faith has submitted a response to the Working Group on the Seal of the Confessional established by the Archbishops’ Council.
For the background on this see this TA article from October last year and the articles from Law & Religion UK linked there.
The members of the working group are listed in this document.
The press release from Forward in Faith is available here and is copied below the fold.
Forward in Faith has published its submission to the Working Party on the Seal of the Confessional, which is charged with assisting the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops in considering whether to recommend amendment of the Canon that says that priests should not reveal what has been disclosed in Confession by a penitent.
Forward in Faith’s submission points out that the sacraments belong to the whole Church, of which the Church of England is only part, and that the General Synod therefore does not have the authority to alter them. The obligation of non-disclosure is part of the nature of the Sacrament: it was not created by the Canon. Amending or repealing the Canon would therefore not remove it. We are confident that priests will continue to regard themselves as bound by the Seal of the Confessional, even if this canonical provision is amended or repealed.
We question whether, in any case, the necessity for such a change has been or can be made out.
Such a change would be undesirable and counterproductive. It would discourage people who have committed criminal offences from making their confession, reducing the likelihood of a priest being in a position to counsel them to report themselves to the Police. The time and energy expended in promoting such a controversial piece of legislation could be deployed more profitably in other ways.
Forward in Faith is concerned that many priests receive little or no training for the important ministry of reconciliation, which both the 1662 and Common Worship Ordinals identify as a fundamental aspect of priestly ministry. Such training should emphasize that, where a serious crime is confessed, absolution should be withheld until the penitent has reported him- or herself to the Police.
Forward in Faith understands the defence of the sacraments as part of its purpose, and we shall resist as strongly as we can any attack on the integrity of sacramental Confession.
The submission may be read here.
The latest pastoral letter from the Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council can be found here. Part of it reads:
…Speaking at a mission conference in Chicago earlier this month I was delighted by the strength and fruitfulness of the global relationships being formed through GAFCON. We met at the Anglican Church of North America’s (ACNA) Church of the Resurrection, which has bought a huge disused factory and built it into a beautiful church.
Despite many challenges, this congregation is truly a church of the resurrection! It is a wonderful demonstration of the joy, vision and spiritual vitality so typical of the ACNA. I praise God that the ACNA, birthed at our first Jerusalem Conference in 2008, is now recognised as a full Province of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing the majority of the Communion’s active membership.
My experience of this new wineskin in North America brought home to me just how much is at stake when the Primates of the Communion meet in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury next January. I believe this will be an historic meeting unlike anything that has gone before. There is now a shared realisation that the time for dialogue is over and there must be a decision that will settle the future direction of the Communion and free us from being dragged down by controversy and confusion.
Last week it was a joy and privilege to share in a meeting of Global South Primates in Cairo which enabled the GAFCON Primates to consider how to respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation. Noting the unique nature of this proposed meeting, we are agreed to go and I am confident that in doing so we will not compromise the biblical principles for which we stand…
(The September letter was linked here. )
David Emmott went to Ken Leech’s funeral: Celebrating a prophet.
Carol Kuruvilla Huffington Post These 15 Tiny Churches Have Plenty Of Personality
Onora O’Neill, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, gave the Theos Annual Lecture on Monday 19 October 2015: Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion.
Paul Handley writes about the lecture in this week’s Church Times leader: Rights and duties.
Andrew Davison Church Times Do other planets have their own Christ?
The Church of England issued the following statement today.
Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)
22 October 2015
The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.
The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.
Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”
Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”
Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:
“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”
The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.
In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”
In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.
Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.
A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.
The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.
Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.
The copy of the statement on the Diocese of Chichester’s website is preceded by this statement by the Bishop of Chichester.
The statement to follow communicates news that has brought us a bewildering mix of deep and disturbing emotions. In touching the legacy and reputation of George Bell, it yields a bitter fruit of great sadness and a sense that we are all diminished by what we are being told.
Our starting point is response to the survivor. We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties. We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.
The revelation of abuse demands bravery on the part of a survivor, and we respect the courage needed to tell the truth. We also recognise that telling the truth provides a legitimate opportunity for others to come forward, sometimes to identify the same source of abuse.
We also believe that in the Church of England as a whole, and certainly in the diocese of Chichester, we have done all we can to ensure that our safeguarding policies reflect best practice, and are fully and evenly implemented. The statement below speaks of an earlier report of this case, in the 1990’s. There will no doubt be some who allege a cover-up by the Church. We acknowledge that the response then would not be adequate by today’s standards, although that falls far short of a cover-up. In the present context, the diocese of Chichester has worked with Police and other agencies to ensure that we have sought the fullest understanding possible of what happened.
Please hold in your prayers all victims of abuse, especially those who have never been able to seek or receive help and a proper response. Please pray for all who are affected by this news, especially those who are our ecumenical partners, those unable to comprehend its implications, and those whose faith is damaged by it. Please pray for the diocese of Chichester, for each other, lay and ordained, as we seek to remain faithful to our apostolic mission in spite of much that could discourage and deter us.
Historic England published its annual Heritage at Risk Register yesterday. Many entries are places of worship. This comes just a week after the Church of England launched its report on how it manages its 16,000 church buildings as part of its Reform and Renewal programme.
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK More “At Risk” CofE Buildings in 2015
Anglican Communion News Service More C of E church buildings placed on “at risk” register
Maev Kennedy The Guardian Bomb factory and concrete church among historic buildings at risk
Hannah Furness The Telegraph A Napoleonic lookout and an ammunition factory: the ’ heritage at risk register’ 2015
David Pocklington’s article has drawn my attention to Monday’s official announcement that from January 2016 Mike Eastwood (Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of Liverpool and Chief Officer, Liverpool Cathedral) will be starting a two-days-a-week secondment with the National Church Institutions as the Director of Reform and Renewal.
We reported on the release of the bishops’ letter here. In the days that followed there was a lot of press reports and reactions, listed in daily groups below with the earliest first.
Harriet Sherwood and Toby Helm The Observer Bishops in stinging rebuke to David Cameron over refugee crisis
Harriet Sherwood The Observer How the Church of England and the British government fell out over the ‘moral crisis’ of refugees
BBC News Syria refugees: Bishops urge David Cameron to do more
Nicola Harley The Telegraph Bishops row with David Cameron over offer of help to refugees
The Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester The Guardian Bishop says European migrant crisis ‘a moral matter’ not political – video
Laura Hughes The Telegraph Conservatives criticise bishops for attack on Syrian refugee policy
Charlie Cooper The Independent Refugee crisis: Church of England attacks Government’s ‘inadequate’ response
Rowena Mason The Guardian Bishops naturally leftwing, suggests minister after plea to take more refugees
Melanie McDonagh The Spectator Cameron should listen to Syrian bishops, not the Anglican ones
Steven Swinford The Telegraph Each Syrian refugee to cost Britain £24,000 a year
Nicholas Watt The Guardian David Cameron rebukes Church of England bishops over refugee letter
BBC News UK aims to take in 1,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas, says PM
Jules Middleton That Bishop’s Letter
Nick Baines Yorkshire Post To portray bishops as anti-Conservative over refugees is ‘wrong, lazy and ridiculous’
[also online here]
Paul Handley Church Times Frustrated bishops call for 30,000 more refugees to be accepted in the UK
The Primates of twelve Global South provinces of the Anglican Communion met in Cairo recently and have issued a lengthy communiqué. Key points are:
Full text of the communique is below the fold. It can also be found on the ACNA website..
Update It is now also on the Global South Anglican website.
Also, as noted in the Comments, Nigeria was not represented at this meeting.
1. We, the Primates and representatives of twelve Global South Provinces of the Anglican Communion, met in Cairo between the 14th and 16th of October. We represent the majority of the active membership of the Anglican Communion.
2. While we were disappointed that the general Global South Conference in Tunisia was cancelled at the last minute due to security reasons, we are immensely grateful to God who blessed this rescheduled Primates Meeting in Cairo.
3. We appreciate the support and warm welcome of the Egyptian government, especially in their granting of visas on such short notice. At the same time we are also thankful to the Diocese of Egypt and its staff for all the hard work that made this meeting a fruitful one.
4. We rejoiced to welcome the Anglican Church in North America as a partner province to the Global South, represented by its Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach.
5. We appreciated the participation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, in our meetings, as he was keen to listen to our concerns and share his own in a collegial atmosphere.
6. We thank God for the wonderful fellowship and times of worship we were able to share together. As we opened the word of God, we reflected on unity (John 17) as well as our responsibility as shepherds and watchmen of God’s flock (Ezekiel 34).
7. We were aware that we were meeting at a critical time in the history of our Communion. A time characterised by impaired and broken relations between Provinces.
8. We began the meetings by reviewing the history of the Global South, which began as a recommendation of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Brisbane, Australia, 1987. We also reviewed the summary of recommendations out of the Global South Meetings in Limuru, Kenya, 1994; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1997; Red Sea, Egypt, 2005; Singapore, 2010; and Bangkok, Thailand, 2012.
9. We, the Global South Anglicans, by God’s Grace, uphold the Biblical, orthodox faith of the Anglican Communion; the faith we received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles. We believe in the communion and unity of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church.
This unity is based on the truth revealed to us in the scripture; it is a unity on the essentials of faith. We also believe in principled diversity in the non-‐essentials. “In essentials, unity; in non-‐essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
10. The nature of the Global South Anglicans movement is this:
• It is ecclesial in the nature of the represented Provinces of the Global South.
• It is geographical as these Provinces are of the Global South.
• It is an integral part of the Anglican Communion.
• It is faithful to the faith received through the Apostles from Jesus Christ.
• It is relational to the See of St. Augustine of Canterbury; we are autonomous, yet interdependent (“autonomy-‐in-‐communion”), i.e. we are committed to support, listen, and be faithful to each other.
After much deliberation and discussion we agreed on the following decisions:
1. We discussed the importance of unity among us. We affirmed the importance of blessing and encouraging each other. We are committed to working together for the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
2. We were happy to receive a report from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, which receives Primatial oversight from the Global South. We praise the Lord for his faithful stance in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. We studied the letter of invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the upcoming Primates meeting. We have agreed to attend the meeting, and welcome the invitation for the Primates to suggest the items of the agenda. We appreciate this very helpful approach, one that gives us a sense of ownership and responsibility to our meeting. We agreed on the agenda items which we will request.
4. We grieved one more time at the unilateral decisions taken by the last General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA to redefine marriage and to accept same-‐sex marriages (Resolutions A036 and A054). We see these latest resolutions as a clear departure from not only the accepted traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion, but also from that of the one Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church, which upholds the scriptural view of marriage between one man and one woman. (Lambeth Resolution 1:10, 1998.)
5. We moved to continue the decade of evangelism, discipleship, and networking that we began three years ago and have decided to continue the activity of the different taskforces we established in Bangkok, 2012. These taskforces are:
• Evangelism, Discipleship, and Mission
• Theological Resources
• Economic Empowerment
• Ecumenical Relations and Interfaith Dialogue
6. The Global South Primates re-‐elected the current chairman, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, as well as the current Steering Committee. These positions will remain in effect until the next Global South Conference. We also gave thanks to Archbishop Bolly Lapok for his contributions as treasurer; he will be retiring in February 2016.
7. We unanimously decided to reschedule the cancelled Global South General Conference in Tunisia to the first week of October 2016. The venue has yet to be decided.
8. As we came to the end of our meeting, we were reminded by the prayer of Jesus that our unity and love witness for Him.
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)
Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis
Archbishop Ian Ernest
Archbishop Dr. Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi
Archbishop Bolly Lapok
Archbishop Hector Tito Zavala
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo representing Archbishop Daniel Deng
Bishop Stephen Kaziimba representing Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop Henri Isingoma
Archbishop Foley Beach
Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje
Archbishop Stephen Than
Bishop John Chew, Global South Steering Committee member
This press release has just been issued: Bishops call on Prime Minister to provide “meaningful and substantial response” to refugee crisis
17 October 2015
The Church of England today has published a letter sent to the Prime Minister in early September signed by 84 of its bishops calling for the Government to increase the number of Syrian refugees being resettled to this country “to a minimum of 50,000” over the next five years.
Referring to the situation in Syria as “one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded” the Bishops write that “a moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.”
Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:
“We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.”
In addition to “recognising and applauding” the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.
In their letter the Bishops also called for the creation of a National Welcome and Resettlement Board, mirroring the successful work of such boards created by Government in response to past refugee crises in the 1950s and 1970s. Since the writing of the letter the board has been created with the Bishop of Durham serving as co-chair of the board.
Speaking on behalf of the bishops, the Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:
“The Archbishop of York recently said that the current situation has rightly been described as a refugee crisis but it is also a time of opportunity for us as a country and for our wider continent. The opportunity before us is to rise above narrow self-interest, however defined, and to embrace the highest parts of our humanity.
We recognise that both the Prime Minister and His Government responded to calls from the country for there to be a programme of resettlement and we are grateful to him for responding to those calls. However there is a real urgency to this issue with those increasingly being forced from their land as their homes are literally bombed into the ground. As the fighting intensifies, as the sheer scale of human misery becomes greater, the Government’s response seems increasingly inadequate to meet the scale and severity of the problem. It is disheartening that we have not received any substantive reply despite an assurance from the Prime Minister that one would be received. There is an urgent and compelling moral duty to act which we as bishops are offering to facilitate alongside others from across civil society.”
The full text of the letter follows.
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
10 September 2015
Dear Prime Minister,
Like you, your Government, and the people of our nation we are deeply concerned for the refugee crisis that we have to face together. We are grateful to you and your ministers for the conversations they have already held with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others around these issues.
We pray for the millions of people fleeing war and violence in one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded, and we remember those who have tragically died seeking sanctuary on European shores: those like Alan Kurdi, the three year old boy who heartbreakingly died and was washed up on a beach in Turkey.
It is a command in Judaism , “to welcome and love the stranger as you would yourself because you were strangers in the land of Egypt”. Followers of Islam are obliged to provide food, shelter and safety to the traveller. Christ himself and his family were refugees. We are reminded that in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral there is a 17th century notice which pays tribute to “the large and liberal spirit of the English church and the glorious asylum which England has in all times given to foreigners flying for refuge against oppression and tyranny.”
Such traditions and prayers must be joined with action. A moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.
We recognise and applaud the leadership you and your government are showing in this crisis, both as one of the world’s top international donors and the recent announcement that the government will resettle 20,000 people over the next five years.
We stand ready to play our part as well. We will:
1. Encourage our church members to work alongside the wider community in offering welcome, orientation, integration, sign-posting and support to all refugees who come
2. Encourage, where possible and feasible, churches, congregations and individuals to make rental properties and spare housing available for use by resettled refugees.
3. Promote and support foster caring among churches, congregations and individuals where appropriate to help find the homes needed to care for the increasing number of unaccompanied minors
4. Pray for, act with and stand alongside your government, to rise to the challenge that this crisis poses to our shared humanity
From what we see in congregations across the United Kingdom we are confident that the country stands ready and willing to support the government to be even more ambitious as it responds to this historic crisis.
We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.
We believe that should a National Welcome and Resettlement Board be established in response to the crisis drawing together civic, corporate and government leadership to coordinate efforts and mobilise the nation as in times past, such an effort would not be beyond the British people. A senior Bishop would gladly serve on such a board on our behalf and at your pleasure.
This letter is written to you privately at present. The College of Bishops meets in Oxford next week and will spend some time on Thursday 17th considering our practical response. If you were able to respond to me ahead of that date it would help our discussions.
for full list of signatories, go here, and scroll down
The Archbishop of Canterbury ‘To the Glory of God’ - Archbishop’s sermon at Virginia Theological Seminary
Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard Church Times If we can’t make up, can we still kiss?
Robin Gill Church Times Yes, faith is good for your health
Philip DeVaul The Orange County Register Stop saying ‘There but for the grace of God’
Update - northern deans now listed
My list of those elected to the 2015-2020 General Synod is now almost complete. The only gaps are the two Northern Deans and the lay member from the Deanery of Jersey. The clergy member from the Channel Islands will be Tim Barker, the Dean designate of Guernsey. But I understand that he will not be able to take up his place until he is commissioned on 28 November, which is after the inaugural group of sessions.
There are two vacancies from the Religious Communities because not enough people were nominated to fill all four places. By-elections will be held in due course.
My thanks go to all those who responded to my appeal to send me results.
Updated Friday and Saturday
Launch of major new report on how the Church of England manages its 16,000 church buildings
13 October 2015
As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.
The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.
The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.
Welcoming the opening of the consultation, Bishop John said:
“Our 16,000 church buildings are a visible sign of ongoing Christian faith in communities throughout England as well as being an unparalleled part of our country’s heritage. This report looks at how we can best support the thousands of local volunteers who care deeply for and about churches and offer wonderful service to their communities using their churches.
“We believe that - apart from growing the church - there is no single solution to the challenges posed by our extensive responsibility for part of the nation’s heritage. We hope therefore that this work will be a catalyst for discussion about how churches can be better cared for and used for the common good.”
A copy of the six principles recommended by the group and the recommendations are available below. [Ed: These are below the fold.] The consultation period runs until Friday 29 January and will include a debate at the first meeting of the new General Synod in November.
The report is available at:
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England considers Christmas-only parishes
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Some churches will only open for Christmas – CofE report
David Keen blogs: When Should My Parish Church Be Demolished?
Giles Fraser The Guardian We must do to our churches what Beeching did to the railways
And in response Letters to the Church Magazine has this Mid-October Special.
Tim Wyatt Church Times Review calls for more state funds for Church buildings
Sir Tony Baldry (chair, Church Buildings Council) Ensuring that church buildings are a blessing and not a burden
For so long as a building has a contribution to make to the mission of the Church of England and remains open for worship, the legal responsibility for it should normally remain at parish level, and where that is not possible, at diocesan level. Local ownership- in every sense of the word- is generally to be preferred to other alternatives, not least because it will continue to facilitate wider community support for what is often the most significant historical building in the locality.
What is understood by ‘open for worship’ has evolved over time depending on local contexts and will need to evolve further for some buildings over the coming years. Legislation needs to facilitate this.
More generally, the overall legislative framework governing the use and management of church buildings needs to be simpler, less prescriptive and less burdensome for laity and clergy. There needs to be more flexibility to reflect the wide diversity of local situations.
Dioceses need to integrate thinking about their church buildings with their mission and ministry planning. Regular diocesan strategic reviews, taking account of diocesan and deanery plans, mission action plans and parish audits are important for ensuring that buildings issues are given their proper weight- neither dominating nor being overlooked or regarded as a specialist subject.
Over the centuries it has never been either possible or desirable to retain all church buildings. There have always been and will continue to be circumstances where closure is the right option. In those cases the process needs to be managed sensitively but efficiently, with more focused effort than now on seeking alternative uses.
The work undertaken nationally to support parishes and dioceses in their stewardship of buildings needs to be reshaped at member and staff level to provide a sharper focus, pool expertise and facilitate greater strategic thinking.
1. Church and Government representatives should explore ways in which more assured financial support for listed cathedrals and church buildings can be provided for in the long term. (Paragraphs 46-48 and 125-128).
2. In order to facilitate new, creative models of managing and caring for buildings and free up clergy and laity for mission and ministry the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 should be amended to enable a PCC - with diocesan consent - to formally transfer its care and maintenance liability to another body. (Paragraphs 129-136).
3. Guidance on legal models relating to the use of open church buildings should be more widely disseminated in order to promote good practice in enabling such wider use. (Paragraph 137-140 and Appendix 3).
4. The next phase of the Simplification Agenda, in looking to reduce ‘red tape’ affecting parish and benefice structure and organisation, should, as proposed, review governance requirements with a view to relieving pressures on clergy and laity and freeing up energy and resources for mission. (Paragraphs 141-146).
5. The Simplification Group’s recommendation to amend Canon B 14A to facilitate ‘Festival Churches’, while proposing further work on their role and how mission and evangelism are developed in the surrounding communities, should be implemented. Additionally, the Church Buildings Council should work with dioceses pioneering this concept to identify and promote good practice in caring for such buildings. A grouping such as an Association of Festival Churches may also offer a beneficial means of supporting such initiatives. (Paragraphs 147-152).
6. Regular diocesan church building reviews or audits should be incorporated into each diocese’s vision and strategy, as well as forming an integral part of deanery Mission Action Planning. Dioceses need to see the strategic importance of investment to address buildings issues, drawing in as much outside help as can be secured. (Paragraphs 153-156).
7. While closed church buildings should continue to vest in Diocesan Boards of Finance until their future is settled, any Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee should be able to transfer all of their use-seeking functions for closed churches to the Church Commissioners, with the latter’s consent. (Paragraphs 157-171).
8. Staff in Church House involved in all aspects of church buildings including cathedrals and chancels should be brought together to form a single staff team, with the relevant staff (excluding those working regionally) based in one location within Church House. (Paragraphs 172-188).
9. A new statutory Commission (perhaps entitled the Church Buildings Commission for England) should be established to take an oversight of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and enable a more strategic view to be taken of priorities and resource allocation. This would replace the present Church Buildings Council including its Statutory Advisory Committee, and the Church Commissioners’ Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee. While no changes in the responsibilities of the Church Commissioners in relation to church buildings issues are proposed, the new body, for some purposes, would act as a committee of the Commissioners. (Paragraphs 183-203).
10. The current powers and responsibilities of the Churches Conservation Trust work well and should not be changed. (Paragraphs 204-207).
The consultation period is now open and will close on the Friday 29th January 2016 at 5pm. Comments should be sent to email@example.com.
The church buildings review was set up jointly by the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners and carried out as part of the Optimizing the role of the NCIs, which made recommendations about the ways in which the National Church Institutions (NCIs) can be more effective.
The Church Buildings Review Group was made up of the following members:
The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester (lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings) (Chair)
The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry (Church Buildings Council Chair; former Second Church Estates Commissioner)
James Halsall (DAC Secretary for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
The Ven Christine Hardman (former Archbishops’ Council member and Bishop-designate of Newcastle)
Andrew Mackie (Third Church Estates Commissioner; Chair of Pastoral and Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committees)
Jennie Page CBE (Vice Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission)
Ian Watmore (Church Commissioner and member of the Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee).
The votes in the elections to the Church of England General Synod will be counted during this coming week. I will publish the names of the successful candidates here: General Synod List of members.
Please help me do this by sending election results to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will only publish the names of successful candidates, so I do not need the details of the count (although you are welcome to send these to me as well).
New this time is the requirement for dioceses to post the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) on the diocesan website. They must remain there until the end of the first group of sessions of the new Synod, ie 4.30 pm on 25 November 2015. Results for other constituencies must be similarly posted on the Church of England website. However there does not appear to be any particular date by which these results must be posted. But when they do appear I will add links to this page: Synod election 2015.
There are official lists of successful candidates here.
Andrew Brown The Guardian Opposing gay bishops for the sake of church unity is stupid
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Christopher Howse The Telegraph English timber roofs where a host of angels roost
Our previous article on Peter Ball is here, with links to earlier articles.
Peter Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison this morning.
[Update: the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Wilkie can be read here.]
The Church of England issued this statement.
Statement on the sentencing of Peter Ball
07 October 2015
“It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England has today been sentenced for a series of offences over 15 years against 18 young men known to him. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.
We apologise unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward and also the long wait for justice that they have endured. We note that there are those whose cases remain on file for whom today will be a difficult day, not least in the light of the courage and persistence that they have demonstrated in pressing for the truth to be revealed. We also remember Neil Todd, whose bravery in 1992 enabled others to come forward but who took his own life before Peter Ball’s conviction or sentencing.
As the Police have noted Peter Ball systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom who were aspiring priests, whilst others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality. He also abused the trust placed in him by the Church and others, maintaining a campaign of innocence for decades until his final guilty plea only weeks ago. Since that plea was made processes in the Church have begun to initiate formal internal disciplinary procedures against Peter Ball.
Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between Lambeth Palace, the Diocese of Chichester and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing. We pay tribute to those detectives whose work on this case over the past three years has led to this conviction and sentencing.
Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea on 8th of September this year questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.
The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.
Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.
The Church of England always takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. To this end we have robust procedures and policies in place. But we can never be complacent. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward with confidence that safeguarding procedures will be followed.
Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.”
Paul Butler, lead Bishop on safeguarding for the Church of England
You can listen to Bishop Paul Butler responding to the Peter Ball case by following this link.
Nicola Harley The Telegraph Peter Ball: Ex-bishop jailed for 32 months for exploiting young priests for sex
Sandra Laville The Guardian Bishop escaped abuse charges after MPs and a royal intervened, court told
Press Association in The Guardian Sexual abuse victims of Peter Ball sue Church of England
Tim Wyatt Church Times Prison for Bishop Peter Ball, but victims still seek justice
Comments are closed for this article.
We reported on the Peter Ball case on 8 September: Peter Ball pleads guilty.
Since we published that article, this appeared on 13 September: Bishop Ball sex charges caution ‘wrong’ admits CPS.
Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to that case.
Press Release text is here.
Archbishop Commissions Independent Review of Peter Ball Case
05 October 2015
For Immediate Release
Archbishop Commissions Review of Peter Ball Case
The Archbishop of Canterbury has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester.
During a hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 8th of this year Bishop Peter Ball pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office following the work of Sussex police as part of Operation Dunhill.
Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between the Church and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing.
Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.
The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.
Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.
Comments are closed for this article.
Although the document has yet to appear on the provincial website, the full text of a communiqué from the September meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has been published at Episcopal Cafè and also at Anglican Mainstream. Most of the document deals with local Nigerian matters, but there are two paragraphs which may be of wider interest:
ISSUE OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
The Standing Committee unanimously resolved to continue to maintain the orthodox biblical stand on this matter. It also calls on her members to defend the orthodox biblical teaching on marriage and family. On its part, the Federal Government is further enjoined to continue to resist the foreign pressure to make it rescind its stand on same-sex marriage.
THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION WORLD
While the Anglican Communion continues to be impaired by revisionist theologies of some Anglican Provinces, the Standing Committee calls the leadership of the Anglican Communion to repentance and renewed faith in Christ as expressed in the bible, the articles of religion and the Jerusalem Declaration, and further reaffirms our commitment on these as the basis of our relationship with other parts of the communion.
A photo of the document is available here.
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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Corruption entrenches inequality in South Africa, says Archbishop
Church must be “vision-led not problem-led”, says Bishop Richard Chartres in the third of the Lambeth Lectures series.
The sermon preached by the Bishop of Chelmsford at the consecration of three new suffragan bishops in St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 September has received some attention in the media. The official press release about it is here.
Ruth Gledhill has written a news article about it in Christianity Today which is titled ‘Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops’: A call for authentic church leadership.
The Archbishop Cranmer blog has BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD REPUDIATES EPISCOPAL “TALENT POOL”
The full text is available here.
The key passage reads:
So – a new line for the litany - Good Lord deliver us from successful bishops, from too well prepared or even too well organised bishops, from ready answer in the back pocket and PowerPoint strategy self-sufficient, all efficient bishops. Take us to those high places, places of perspective and reality, where we and all our schemes are set on fire, which, paradoxically for us, are also those places where life is raw, and pain and darkness requisite. Take us to the heights of prayer, to the depths of the scriptures, to the bottom step before the altar, to a places of silent waiting where, with mitres off and staffs laid down, we will be replenished and know our need of God, and there be renewed and strengthened for the things that lie ahead as bishops of God’s church – messengers, sentinels and pastors.
The Bishop of Chelmsford has published this letter, responding to some of the comments made about his sermon.
My sermon at the recent consecration of three new bishops at St Paul’s Cathedral has caused a bit of a stir.
Some have said that it was a riposte or rebuke to certain initiatives taking place in the Church of England around leadership development. This was never meant to be the case.
The intention of the sermon was to reconfirm the perspective of all our initiatives and all our plans and remind us of the calling of the bishop as messenger, sentinel and pastor, and at the same time enable us to smile at ourselves…