Monday, 29 February 2016

Archbishops Call for ‘Great Wave of Prayer’

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting churches to pray for the evangelisation of the nation during the week before Pentecost Sunday.

See this press release from Lambeth Palace and from Bishopthorpe.

See also this website.

Read the full text of the letter here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Lent 2016

Thy kingdom Come, thy will be done …

A Call to Prayer in the week leading up to Pentecost 2016

As we travel around the country, we are continuously encouraged by the faithfulness, commitment and courage of all our Partners in the Gospel. Your ministry in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, often in testing circumstances, is an inspiring testimony to the transforming work of our Lord. We thank God for our partnership in the Gospel.

Like us, you will know that ministry is empty and barren without prayer. That is why we are taking the unprecedented step of writing to every serving parish priest in the Church of England inviting you and your people to join us in a week of prayer for the evangelisation of our nation. In the week leading up to Pentecost (May 8th - 15th, 2016) we long to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 February 2016 at 4:23pm GMT | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Opinion - 27 February 2016

Bosco Peters Communion Means Communion

Andrew Lightbown Church leadership & strategy: some final thoughts
[This follows on from two earlier articles linked here.]

Nick Spencer Church Times Merkel’s strong, unshowy faith

Ian Paul Are evangelicals taking over the Church?

This is one I overlooked earlier.
Tom Ferguson The Crusty Old Dean The NFLization of the Anglican Communion: Primates Go Roger Goodell

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 February 2016 at 10:00am GMT | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Friday, 26 February 2016

Philip Hesketh to be next Dean of Rochester

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Rochester: Philip John Hesketh
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 26 February 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dr Philip John Hesketh to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church Rochester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Dr Philip John Hesketh, BD, AKC, PhD, Canon at Rochester Cathedral, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church Rochester.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Philip Hesketh (aged 51) was educated at King’s College, London and trained for the ministry at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He served his curacy at Bearsted with Thurnham, Canterbury diocese from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 2005 he was Vicar of St Stephen’s Chatham in Rochester diocese. Since 2005 he has been Canon Residentiary at Rochester Cathedral.

Dr Hesketh is married to Sugina, a doctor, and they have 3 daughters and 1 son.

His recreations include entertaining, listening to music, reading biographies and keeping pigs.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 February 2016 at 11:39am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Janet McFarlane to be next Bishop of Repton

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Repton: Janet Elizabeth McFarlane
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 26 February 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Janet Elizabeth McFarlane to the Suffragan See of Repton in the diocese of Derby.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Janet Elizabeth McFarlane, BMedSci, BA, Archdeacon of Norwich, in the diocese of Norwich, to the Suffragan See of Repton in the diocese of Derby in succession to the Right Reverend Humphrey Ivo John Southern, MA, on his resignation on 1 April 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Jan McFarlane (aged 51) was educated first at Sheffield University, where she trained as a speech and language therapist, and then at St John’s College, Durham; and she trained for ordained ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham.

Jan served her first curacy at Stafford in Lichfield Diocese from 1993 to 1996 and was among the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in 1994. From 1996 to 1999 she was Chaplain and Minor Canon at Ely Cathedral. Since 1999 she has been Director of Communications in the Diocese of Norwich. From 2001 to 2009 Jan served as Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich and has been Archdeacon of Norwich since 2009. She combines her role as Archdeacon with the posts of Director of Communications and Warden of Readers. She has been a member of the General Synod since 2005.

Jan is married to Andrew Ridoutt, a television cameraman. Her interests include exploring the beautiful British countryside, beaches and country pubs with Andrew and their rather mischievous Miniature Schnauzer, Edith. Jan has contributed to several books of prayers and reflections for Church House Publishing and broadcasts regularly on local radio.

The Derby diocesan website has Queen Approves Nomination of First Female Bishop in Derbyshire and East Midlands.
Jan McFarlane will be consecrated as a Bishop on Wednesday 29 June.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 February 2016 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Church of Uganda to boycott next ACC meeting

The Archbishop of Uganda yesterday issued a lenten appeal to pray for Uganda and the Anglican Communion. It is almost entirely devoted to the Communion and includes this:

As you know, the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Assembly has resolved that the Church of Uganda will not participate in meetings of the Anglican Communion until godly order is restored, including demonstrating that it is capable of restoring godly order. This has not yet happened. The Church of Uganda, therefore, will not be participating in the upcoming April meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Lusaka.

Ruth Gledhill reports on the letter for Christian Today: Archbishop of Uganda condemns ‘deep betrayal’ of biblical standards in Anglican Communion.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 February 2016 at 11:13am GMT | Comments (24) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Independent Review into Peter Ball case

The Church of England has announced the names of the team who will conduct the previously promised independent review into the case of Peter Ball, formerly Bishop of Gloucester.

Dame Moira Gibb announced as Chair of independent review into Peter Ball case

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the appointment of Dame Moira Gibb to be chair of the independent review into the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester, who was jailed last year for sex offences.

Dame Moira has worked at a senior level in the statutory sector – she was Chief Executive of Camden Council until 2011 – and holds a range of non-executive roles. Most recently she was the chair of the Serious Case Review (published January 2016) into safeguarding at Southbank International School in the wake of the crimes committed by William Vahey.

She will be assisted in the review by Kevin Harrington JP, safeguarding consultant and lead reviewer on a range of Serious Case Reviews; James Reilly, former Chief Executive of Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (until Feb 2016); Heather Schroeder MBE, currently vice chair of Action for Children and formerly held senior positions in social services and children’s services in a number of local authorities.

The review will be published once Dame Moira and her team have completed their work which is expected to be within a year. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) chaired by Justice Goddard will also be looking at the Peter Ball case but have made it clear that institutions should continue with their previous commitments on safeguarding and the Church is in contact with IICSA on this.

The aim of the review will be to consider: What information was available to the Church of England, who had this information and when and to provide a detailed timeline and transparent account of the response; whether the response was in accordance with recognised good practice, and compliant with CofE policy and legislation as well as statutory policy and legislation; lessons about any necessary changes and developments needed within the CofE to ensure that safeguarding work is of the highest possible standard; how complaints and disciplinary processes are managed and any other specific areas of Church behaviour and practice identified by the review.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am hugely grateful to Dame Moira for agreeing to take up this vital role and chair the review, which will take a detailed look into how the Church handled the Peter Ball case. We have offered an unreserved apology to all the survivors and commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been. It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a bishop in the Church of England committed these offences. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades. I hope the review will provide the Church as a whole with an opportunity to learn lessons which will improve our safeguarding practice and policy.”

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 full terms of reference for this review are copied below the fold.

Terms of Reference: Review – Peter Ball

Background

On October 5th 2015, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced the commissioning of an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester. The review follows the guilty plea by Peter Ball to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office. The review will be conducted by an independent Review Group, who will examine the Church of England’s response to the abusive conduct of Peter Ball.

1. Objectives

a. To review what information was available to the Church of England (within relevant dioceses, Lambeth Palace and central Church authorities) concerning Peter Ball’s abuse of individuals; who had this information and when. To provide a detailed timeline and transparent account of the response within the Church of England.

b. To consider whether the response was in accordance with recognised good practice, and compliant with Church of England policy and legislation as well as statutory policy and legislation.

c. To learn lessons about any necessary changes and developments needed within the Church of England to ensure that safeguarding work is of the highest possible standard; how complaints and disciplinary processes are managed and any other specific areas of Church behaviour and practice identified by the review.

d. To produce a report, including recommendations, set out in a way which can be easily understood by professionals and public alike and suitable for publication. The report will be published on the Church of England website.

2.Review Group

a. The Archbishop of Canterbury, having consulted the National Safeguarding Panel, will appoint a person to Chair the Review Group. That person will not be a member of the clergy and will not hold a senior diocesan or national position in the Church of England. He or she will have experience of safeguarding inquiries and complex case reviews.

b. The Archbishop of Canterbury will also appoint a person with relevant experience to provide a detailed timeline and transparent account, as per 1a.

c. The Chair will appoint people with the relevant experience and skills to be specialist Advisers to the Review and professional administrative support.

d. The Chair will be professionally supported by the National Safeguarding Team, the Legal Office and other relevant staff, and may seek other independent professional expertise as necessary.

e. The Chair will present their report to the Archbishop of Canterbury for publication.

f. If during the course of its work the Chair identifies any matters that have not previously come to attention, it will report these to the Police and the National Safeguarding Team.

g. The Chair will keep the National Safeguarding Panel informed on its progress with the review, including the time within which it expects to complete the review.

h. The review will proceed independently from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as part of the Church of England’s commitment to learning and further developing good safeguarding practice.

3. Scope of the Review

The Review team will:

a. Have access to all of the material and files on this case within Lambeth Palace, and the Dioceses of Chichester, Gloucester, Bath and Wells and Truro and other locations as deemed appropriate.

b. Consider relevant material provided by victims of Peter Ball, their families, and other individuals.

c. Provide opportunities to victims of Peter Ball to share their experiences and the impact of those experiences on them.

d. Provide opportunities to those within the Church of England (nationally and at Diocesan level) who worked closely on this case to share their experiences, in relation to each of the Objectives laid out in (1).

e. Liaise and consult with relevant local statutory bodies to ensure appropriate sharing of information.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 1:00am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Southern Africa bishops: Same-sex couples “full members” of church

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued this statement. Also available here.

The bishops again discussed and worked over their draft Pastoral Guidelines in response to Civil Unions within the wider contexts of Marriage and Human Sexuality in readiness for decision at Provincial Synod. These reaffirm our assurance that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. However, they they do not change our current policy, which is that the Province ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’ (Resolution 1:10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998).

The Prayer Book affirms ‘that marriage by divine institution is a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman’; therefore the draft guidelines affirm for now that ‘partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage… accordingly our clergy are not permitted to bless such unions… nor are they permitted to enter into such unions while they remain in licensed ministry’…

Additionally the primate of this province, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has published this pastoral letter. Also available here.

…We have issued a joint statement from the Synod, but I want to report to you in more detail to give you the full context of one of the more challenging matters we discussed. One of the key tasks before us was to fulfil the mandate given to us by Provincial Standing Committee and to finalise pastoral guidelines for couples in South Africa who are in same-sex civil unions. Against the backdrop of the international debate on this issue in the worldwide Anglican Communion, our discussions were frank, open and robust. We sensitively considered our role as the Anglican Church in Southern Africa within the broader family of the Communion, cognisant of the divergent strands of theological thinking within the Province of Southern Africa and of the different pastoral challenges that the different dioceses and the different countries of our Province are facing.

The document we have agreed upon will go to Provincial Synod for adoption in September, and will be published a few months ahead of Synod in the First Agenda Book. I believe that its adoption by Provincial Synod would be an important first step in signalling to the LGBT community that we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, through our top deliberative and legislative body, see them as welcome members of our body as sisters and brothers in Christ. In the words of the guidelines:

“We reaffirm our assurance to them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. Many of these are baptised and confirmed members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships.”

In another section, the bishops declared that: “We are of one mind that gay, lesbian and transgendered members of our church share in full membership as baptised members of the Body of Christ…”

This has important implications in parishes where, for example, same-sex couples who are living in civil unions under South African law bring their children for baptism and confirmation. No child brought for baptism should be refused merely because of the sexual orientation of the parents, and particular care should be taken against stigmatising not only parents but their children too.

We also tried at the Synod of Bishops to draw up guidelines for clergy wanting to bless couples in same-sex unions, or who want to enter same-sex unions themselves. We constituted a group of bishops reflecting a cross-section of our views to discuss such guidelines. On this issue, I had to report back to the Synod, the only agreement we reached is that we were not of one mind.

Our differences do not only revolve around the theology of marriage, but are also a result of different pastoral realities in different dioceses. For example, most of our dioceses across Southern Africa are predominantly rural, and for many the urgent priorities of food security, shelter, healthcare and education crowd out debate on the issue of human sexuality. In some rural dioceses, responding to challenges to the Church’s restrictions on polygamous marriages is a much higher pastoral priority.

As a consequence, the Synod of Bishops has agreed that we will continue to regard ourselves bound by the broad consensus in the Anglican Communion, expressed by the Lambeth Conference in 1998, which is that we “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions”. Having said that, we did address the questions of whether that decision is immutable, whether it has replaced scripture, and when a Province of the Communion, or a diocese within a Province may deviate from it…

This province encompasses St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha, Mozambique (Lebombo and Niassa), the Republic of Namibia, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Kingdom of Swaziland and Angola in addition to the Republic of South Africa itself.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 4:33pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Monday, 22 February 2016

New Zealand working group publishes draft rites of blessing

We reported in May 2014 that New Zealand synod acts on same-gender blessings

The Way Forward Working Group has today released its report. It proposes two rites of blessing to be considered by this year’s General Synod.

The Way Forward Working Group was set up in the wake of the 2014 General Synod adopting “Motion 30” (http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Features/Extra/Anga), the resolution that created a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage. Motion 30 called for the appointment of a working group to devise “a process and structure” by which this could happen – and a process and structure to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” remain fully free to dissent.

The full text of the report is available here and there is an Executive Summary here.

Update Here is a link to a PDF version of the full report and another link to a PDF version of the archbishops’ covering letter.

Here’s the first part of the press release:

The long-awaited report of the Way Forward Working Group] has been released.
Today’s publication comes almost 18 months since the 13-member group began its work – and it proposes two new liturgies to be considered by May’s General Synod.
These liturgies have been designed to allow for the blessing of couples who have been married in a civil ceremony – according either to New Zealand law, or to the law in the Pacific Island nations which form part of this church. These liturgies also create a pathway for the people in such relationships to become ordained.
Civil marriages between a man and a woman have long been recognised in law in both New Zealand and in those Pacific Island nations. In New Zealand’s case, of course, an amendment to marriage law came into effect in August 2013 – which allows same-sex couples to legally marry.

“A crucial matter for debate”

The Way Forward Working Group (WFWG) report makes a precept-upon-precept case for how such civil marriages could be blessed by the church.
The Anglican Church in this province is governed by a set of documents, the most significant of which are the Church of England Empowering Act of 1928, and Te Pouhere , the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which came into force in 1992.
Te Pouhere in turn specifies a number of “Formularies” (such as a New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa ) which guide the Church in its worship and practice.
The new constitution also spells out a way in which formularies can be changed (or added to) –providing these changes don’t, in the words of the report, “represent any departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as defined in Te Pouhere’s own Fundamental Provisions.”
The rites of blessing being proposed are being presented as “additional formularies”, rather than doctrinal changes:
“It is the view of the majority of the group,” the report notes, “that the proposed liturgies do not represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and are therefore not prohibited by Te Pouhere, however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.”

There is more, go here for the rest of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 February 2016 at 3:48pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Opinion - 20 February 2016

Martin Freeman Plymouth Herald The serpent, the dove and the Bishop of Truro

Angus Ritchie ABC Religion & Ethics Scripture and Sexuality, Once Again: A Response to Ian Paul

Spitalfields Life The Broderers Of St Paul’s Cathedral

Jana Riess Religion News Service No, St. Francis didn’t say that. (Or Thomas Merton. Or Buddha. Or C.S. Lewis.) Where do we get these fake religion memes?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 February 2016 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Friday, 19 February 2016

Synod news and comments

David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon From the Gallery: General Synod reflections

Andrew Lightbown Reform, renewal, so many questions.
Church strategy and leadership; a critique

Philip Blackledge Well I declare. Why the Church of England Synod has got it badly wrong.

Lucy Gorman Feb 2016

Church Times reports
Gavin Drake Synod calls for benefit sanctions review
Tim Wyatt Bishop North castigates a ‘bias to the rich’
Tim Wyatt Synod votes to press on with Scottish talks, despite Episcopalian unease

Church Times leader Good news to the poor

Update

Stephen Lynas Some are dead, and some are living

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 12:34pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Questions on Anglican Covenant and relational consequences

During Questions on Monday evening, the following exchanges occurred.

The Revd Canon Andrew Godsall (Exeter) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q18 Could the House be invited to reflect on the recent Primates’ Meeting and, if so, what undertaking might be given for particular reflection on whether it was appropriate to adopt an approach involving ‘relational consequences’ in relation to a member province of the Anglican Communion in the light of the fact that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England declined to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the House of Bishops:

A The House received a report on the Primates meeting along with members of the College when they met in January. The Primates addressed the impact on relationships within the Anglican Communion when any Province makes a unilateral change in doctrine. They have set out specific consequences in the functioning of the Communion and a task group will be appointed to carry forward the implications of their decision.

Supplementary Questions (transcribed from the audio recording)

Andrew Godsall:

Is there a difference between the specific consequences referred to in the answer and the relational consequences envisaged in section 4.2.7 of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant that the dioceses of the Church of England rejected. And if there is, what is it?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you, that’s a very interesting question. The Covenant was not considered at all during the Primates Meeting. I don’t… I think it may have been mentioned once in passing. And therefore the way in which the consequences were looked at was not related to the Covenant in any way at all. I think to the best of my knowledge no more than 16, it may have only been 11, provinces have actually signed up to the Covenant. Therefore the vast majority would not consider it relevant in considering this. So there was no link.

Dr Rachel Jepson:

Would the House of Bishops also then take the opportunity to discuss plans to impose similar relational consequences for those provinces that support the criminalisation of homosexuality and in so doing are in breach of the Lambeth resolution.

Archbishop of Canterbury:

Thank you very much. I hope it’s clear that the House of Bishops was not involved in the Primates Meeting. It was the Primates Meeting, and the House of Bishops has not imposed any relational consequences in any way at all. As I hope I made clear earlier, such consequences are those at Communion level, and cannot bind any particular province. Having said that, I think the point you raise is a very, very important one. And if you look at the communiqué, which you will find on the primates meeting website, you will find that there is a very, very clear statement of the longstanding opposition of the Anglican Communion to the criminalisation of LGBTI people. And given that that is a very important part of the thinking of the Anglican Communion in this area, one could anticipate that the primates when they meet, were someone to be advocating such, would need to consider that. If they were to continue to advocate it since the primates meeting we just had. But I am one vote out of 38 and I couldn’t possibly predict or anticipate what the outcome would be. But thank you.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 February 2016 at 5:57pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The SEC Primus writes and talks about the Columba Declaration

David Chillingworth writes More about Columba.

…I watched the debate in which the Columba Declaration was approved by the Church of England with a sense of unreality. The Scottish Episcopal Church was like a ghost at the party – often referred to and talked about but not present. Concerns which have been voiced within the Scottish Episcopal Church about the Columba Declaration focus significantly on the Church of England. The Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church are partner-Provinces in the Anglican Communion. We are the presence of the Anglican Communion in Scotland and we expect the Church of England to respect that. The concerns are that the Columba Declaration places the Church of England in a compromised position in relation to the Scottish Episcopal Church…

John Beattie interviews the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church for BBC Scotland.

Kelvin Holdsworth writes about The Primus’s Radio Interview about the Columba Declaration.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 17 February 2016 at 9:54pm GMT | Comments (71) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Wednesday's business

Preview

Ian Paul What is the future of ministerial training?
briefing paper by principals of the residential theological colleges

Wednesday’s business

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this homily at the Synod Eucharist: ‘Martyrdom is the ultimate witness to Christ’s truth’.

Order papers
morning
afternoon

Official summaries of the day’s business
General Synod February 2016 sessions: Wednesday AM
General Synod February 2016 sessions: Wednesday PM

Slides from the morning presentation on Renewal & Reform

CofE press release: Synod signals support for new ministry funding framework

Press reports

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod calls for “full independent review” of benefit sanctions

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church that does not side with the poor ‘cannot claim to follow Jesus’, synod told

John Bingham The Telegraph No growth for 30 years - Church of England predicts

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England expects attendance to fall for next 30 years

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church to launch social media ‘digital evangelism’ campaign to reach young people

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 17 February 2016 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

General Synod - Tuesday's business

Updated at intervals during the day and on Wednesday

Press preview

Alistair Munro The Scotsman Kirk Moderator to make history in England

Harry Farley Christian Today Scottish moderator to address Synod for first time in history

BBC News Kirk moderator to address CofE Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier Church of Scotland moderator to make history at General Synod

Tuesday’s business

Order paper 2

Speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury: Evangelism is ‘our duty, privilege and joy’, Archbishop tells Synod

Church of England press releases
General Synod votes to approve historic agreement with Church of Scotland
General Synod backs call to encourage blood and organ donation

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February 2016 sessions: Tuesday

Church of Scotland news

General Synod votes to approve historic agreement between Churches

Moderator’s Address to the General Synod of the Church of England

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church life is fading fast in poorer communities, synod warned

Harry Farley Christian Today Church guilty of ‘abandoning the poor’, Synod told

Antony Bushfield Premier Bishop slams Church for preferring the rich

Harry Farley Christian Today Columba Declaration passed in historic show of unity at Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod passes historic Columba Declaration

Brian Donnelly Herald Scotland Moderator: Link between Kirk and Church of England embedded in DNA of both

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod rejects proposal to scrap extra charge for heating at funerals and weddings

Blog

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Fees and “extras” for Church weddings and funerals

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 at 11:20am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Monday, 15 February 2016

WATCH Women in Ministry Report 2015

Updated Wednesday evening

WATCH (Women and the Church) has published what it plans to be the first of a series of annual reports on Women in Ministry. The report on 2015 is available as a webpage and as a pdf download.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, has said

‘The headlines are good: seven women appointed as bishops, and a gathering sense that this is normal. But the Church of England has NOT now ‘done women’. Those who say such things are too quick to stifle God’s spirit of renewal and transformation. Women have carried the faith across much of the Church of England for decades: if we listen and listen again, I wonder what wisdom they can offer to prepare the church of the future?’

Update

Ruth Gledhill looks at the report for Christian Today: Fewer than one in 50 large churches led by a woman priest.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 February 2016 at 5:48pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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General Synod - Monday's business

Press preview

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Donating organs and blood is Christian duty, C of E synod to be told

Today’s business

Order paper 1

Questions paper

Live video stream

Full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address: Archbishop reflects on Primates’ meeting in Synod address

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February 16 sessions: Monday PM

Audio from all the sessions at General Synod February 2016

Press reports

Antony Bushfield Premier Synod’s sexuality conversations “going to be risky”

Harry Farley Christian Today Welby at Synod: Primates meeting was ‘spun more than Donald Trump’
African churches could face ‘consequences’ for supporting criminalisation of homosexuality

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Gay rights and same-sex marriage will dominate C of E summer synod

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 February 2016 at 2:03pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Church of Ireland conversations on human sexuality

The Church of Ireland’s Select Committee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief has published a major document.

The Select Committee’s remit is to enable the listening, dialogue and learning process on all issues concerning human sexuality in the context of Christian belief to continue. The Guide to the Conversation and the Executive Summary document are initial publications to support this objective.

Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief

There is also an Executive Summary (oddly this is a much larger PDF file than the report itself).

There is also a press release: Remarks at the Launch of the Guide to the Conversation.

Changing Attitude Ireland has published this:
Launch of ‘Guide to the Conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 February 2016 at 3:04pm GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Opinion - 13 February 2016

Archdruid Eileen Government to Introduce League Tables For Churches

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this Church of Ireland Theological Lecture on Monday: ‘The Generational Struggle’.

Nick Baines Under an African sky (Tanzania visit)

Church Times is publishing a seven-week series on Theology Now during Lent. This week there are articles on God. Most are behind the paywall, but here are two that are not.
John Inge, Bishop of Worcester In my heart and in my head
Andrew Davison Believing: a respectable approach

Antonia Honeywell The Telegraph I was driven out of my beloved church by homophobia

Mark Hart Living Out the Trinity in the Church of England

Ross Kane The Christian Century Should Episcopalians repent?

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 February 2016 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 12 February 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated Saturday to add the article by William Nye
Also updated Saturday to give a working link to Martyn Percy’s essay

The General Synod of the Church of England meets next week. Here are some recent relevant articles.

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration

Modern Church has published this essay by Martyn Percy: On Not Rearranging the Deckchairs on the Titanic: A Commentary on Reform and Renewal in the Church of England. Kieran Bohan has written this preview: Reform and Renewal or unintentional vandalism? A health and safety warning for General Synod, and there is a link at the end to download the full essay.
Bishop Steven Croft responds: RME - Response to Principals’ Concerns.
Mike Eastwood, Liverpool Diocesan Secretary and Director of Renewal and Reform, Renewal and Reform – a view from Liverpool
William Nye Renewal and Reform – some thoughts from a new boy

Church Times RME plans may be disastrous, say colleges

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Vesture: the House of Bishops Consultation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 12 February 2016 at 4:09pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statement from Bishop Paul Butler on George Bell

The Church of England has issued this statement today.

Statement from Bishop Paul Butler on George Bell
08 February 2016

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding has issued a statement today following various media comments on his recent contribution in the House of Lords regarding Bishop George Bell.

Bishop Paul has welcomed the opportunity to provide further clarity on his comments about the settlement of the civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, and the handling of the case. The particular focus on the language of legal tests, he says, “masks the genuine suffering and damage done to an individual in this case.”

He adds: “The decisions were not taken lightly or without consideration of the impact on the reputation of George Bell. But in this case, as in others, the overriding goal was to search out the truth and issues of reputation cannot take priority over that.”

Read the full statement

Original statement on Bishop George Bell, October 2015

Points on a complex case - Diocese of Chichester blog on Bishop George Bell, January 2016

The full statement is copied below the fold.

Statement from Bishop of Durham on George Bell

“Recent media comment regarding Bishop George Bell has focused on my recent contributions made in the House of Lords in response to a question on the Church’s actions in this matter.

On reflection I believe my words were not as clear as they could have been and I welcome this opportunity to provide further clarity.

Almost three years ago a civil claim was made, raising allegations of abuse by George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester.

In response to the claim independent legal and medical reports were commissioned and duly considered. The evidence available was interrogated and evaluated. This led to a decision to settle the claim and to offer a formal apology to the survivor. This decision was taken on the balance of probabilities — the legal test applicable in civil claims.

The church therefore, having evaluated the evidence before them, accepted the veracity of the claims before them. Some commentators have suggested by doing so the Church abrogated its responsibility to George Bell’s reputation.

In all of the above the wider legacy of George Bell was evident in discussions. The decisions were not taken lightly or without consideration of the impact on the reputation of George Bell. But in this case, as in others, the overriding goal was to search out the truth and issues of reputation cannot take priority over that.

I recognise this will be hard for many to accept because of George Bell’s ministry and reputation. But when faced with allegations of abusive behaviour we cannot ignore it or pretend it did not occur. There will be those who will be unsatisfied with the above process, desiring a decision to have been taken on a criminal test of beyond reasonable doubt. This was of course not possible due to George Bell having been long deceased. In any event it is entirely possible for someone who is found not to be guilty in a criminal trial to be found to have acted wrongfully in a civil claim.

The language of legal tests has become the focus of much of the debate. In doing so it masks the genuine suffering and damage done to an individual in this case, compounded by the Church’s own failures to respond adequately to a claim of serious sexual abuse.

The question as whether we were right to publish the name of George Bell has also been raised. By doing so the Church has been accused of destroying the reputation of one of its heroes. Had we not done so we would have been accused of a “cover up” and placing the reputation of one of our great bishops ahead of fairness to survivors.

It would be an understatement to say that the Church of England has not handled safeguarding cases well in past decades. Over the past five years we have begun to make changes to our policies and procedures to address that. One of our guiding principles has been a step change in our commitment to openness. This has been evidenced in the publication of reports and establishment of independent reviews wherever possible over the past five years.

Every case will require consideration on its own context. In this case the commitment to openness, combined with the decision to settle the claim on the evidence ahead of a civil court case, led to a decision to publish.

Since the exchange in the House of Lords the survivor has taken the brave decision to speak out for herself. This will have been very hard to do. Reading her own words only adds to my conviction that the church was right to make a settlement in this matter, and right to make this known as was done.

The Bishop of Chichester has apologised on behalf of the Church to the individual concerned. I would add my own voice to that apology particularly if any of my recent comments have been interpreted as in anyway minimising or undermining her claims.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 8 February 2016 at 11:40am GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Opinion - 6 February 2016

Robert Cotton reflects on his five years as a member of the Archbishops’ Council.

Church Times leader Don’t rest yet

The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith Statement on Government plans to extend Sunday trading

ChurchPOP 15 Hilarious Complaints Medieval Scribes Left in the Margins

Constantino Duran The Single Path

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Proposed Enabling Measure: A Complex Process of Simplification

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 6 February 2016 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 February 2016

LGBTI Mission launched

Updated

The LGBTI Mission has issued a press release:

Christians unite to campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Church of England

A group of Christians have come together to form the LGBTI Mission, which will campaign for the full acceptance and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people within the Church of England.

The group, which is made up of LGBTI people and straight allies, including both clergy and lay people, will seek to remove all barriers to full participation for LGBTI people within the church. It launches during LGBT History Month, which this year is focused on the theme of Religion, Belief and Philosophy.

The priorities of the LGBTI Mission are centred on three key pillars:

  • Living: the belief that all LGBTI people, heterosexual friends and family, should be welcomed and affirmed by the Church of England…
  • Loving: the belief that God is love, and that life-long, faithful, stable same-sex relationships, and the relationships of those who undergo gender transition, should be celebrated by the Church of England
  • Serving: the belief that God calls LGBTI people to serve the world through the Church of England, and their ministries should be recognised and authorised..

Within these pillars, the Group has nine concrete objectives that it will be working to achieve, which will deliver positive outcomes for LGBTI people within the Church of England.

For more information go to the website.
The full manifesto is contained in a 16 page booklet which can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Updates

There is some press coverage of this:

Church Times Madeleine Davies Mission targets C of E barriers to gay clergy

Telegraph John Bingham Gender transition services and same-sex weddings call for Church of England

Christian Today Mark Woods New Anglican pressure group will campaign for ‘full participation’ of gay people in Church

Ekklesia Christians unite to campaign for LGBTI equality in Church of England

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 February 2016 at 12:30am GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

interview with Bishop George Bell's victim

Updated

Today’s [Brighton] Argus carries this lengthy interview by Joel Adams: Bishop George Bell’s victim: “He said it was our little secret, because God loved me.”

TODAY, for the first time, the victim of George Bell has spoken about the sexual abuse she suffered as a five-year-old child at the hands of the wartime Bishop of Chichester.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus, she described how he repeatedly molested her over a period of four years while telling her that God loved her.

Her testimony brings new clarity to a story which has changed the world’s perception of one of the most revered Anglicans of the 20th century since news of a church payout was announced last October…

Harriet Sherwood also covers the story for The Guardian: Victim describes how she was abused by bishop George Bell.

The original Church statements on this case are here.

Update

The Bishop of Chichester has issued the following statement following the publication of the Brighton Argus article.

Dr Warner said:

“It is testimony to her courage and integrity that the survivor who brought the allegations against George Bell has been prompted to speak out. My hope is that the telling of her story will contribute to her sense of being heard by those within and beyond the Church who are willing to listen with an open mind and respond with compassion and clarity.

“The presence of strident voices in the public arena which have sought to undermine the survivor’s claims has added in this case to the suffering of the survivor and her family. To that extent it is not surprising that she felt it necessary to take the courageous decision to speak out in public and reveal the personal details which the Church could not.

“Words of apology written in a letter can never be enough to express the Church’s shame or our recognition of damage done. However, the apology that I made on behalf of the Diocese of Chichester is genuine and a sincere expression that lessons are being learnt about how we respond to accusations of abuse.

“In some responses to the George Bell case, and to the original statements from the Church nationally and locally in the diocese of Chichester, we have witnessed shocking ignorance of the suffering felt at many different levels by victims of abuse.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 3 February 2016 at 2:05pm GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Monday, 1 February 2016

Archbishops' Council

Elections to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England have now been completed. Here is the full list of elected and appointed members.

Members of the Archbishops’ Council

Joint Presidents
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury
The Revd Canon Simon Butler

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York
The Venerable Cherry Vann

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver

Elected by the House of Bishops
The Rt Revd Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield
The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Elected by the House of Clergy
The Revd Dr Ian Paul
The Revd Sarah Schofield

Elected by the House of Laity
Mrs Lorna Ashworth
Canon Mark Russell

Church Estates Commissioner
Sir Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner

Appointed by the Archbishops
Mr John Spence
Mrs Mary Chapman: former CEO, Chartered Institute of Management
Mr Philip Fletcher
The Revd Dr Rosalyn Murphy: Vicar, St Thomas’s, Blackpool
Mrs Rebecca Salter: Medical Researcher
Mr Matthew Frost, former CEO Tearfund

Detailed results of the elections can be downloaded from here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 February 2016 at 7:54pm GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod