Updated Tuesday morning
Jonathan Petre reports in the Mail on Sunday that African and Asian church leaders threaten to ‘plant’ a bishop in Britain to defy Welby on gay Christians:
Conservative Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia are plotting to create a new ‘missionary’ bishop to lead traditionalists in the UK – after warning that the Church of England is becoming too liberal on homosexuality.
The rebel archbishops are set to give the green light to the controversial plan at a crucial meeting in Africa this week in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Insiders said the move was the ‘nuclear option’ as it would represent a highly provocative intervention into the Church of England by foreign archbishops and a direct challenge to the authority of Archbishop Welby, who is nominal head of Anglicans worldwide…
Anglican Mainstream which has close ties to GAFCON reports that:
Anglican Mainstream understands from Gafcon UK that this article is only partially correct, and that Gafcon UK will be issuing a comment later.
We will update this article when the latter occurs.
The Church of Nigeria has this notice of the meeting.
GAFCON UK has issued the following clarification, according to Anglican Ink
“The situation in the UK is not uniform. Within England there is troubling ambiguity from diocese to diocese in their teaching and pastoral practice as it pertains to human sexuality and biblical church order. However, the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church is of immediate concern. There has been a clear rejection of biblical truth by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and they are expected to finalise this rejection of Anglican teaching and apostolic order in the upcoming June meeting of their Synod. Alternative structures and oversight will need to be in place should that unfortunate reality come to pass. At their meeting this week, the Gafcon Primates will be considering a range of options for how to care for those who remain faithful to Jesus’ teaching on marriage.”
This page from GAFCON UK lists items from the Church of England that are troubling to GAFCON: Radical inclusion after Synod: a briefing (updated).
David Walker ViaMedia.News Why Should the Devil Have All the Best Tunes (and Words)?
Adrian Harris, the Church of England’s head of digital communications, has been talking to Helen Dunne of CorpComms Magazine: How the Church of England is extending its congregation
Madeleine Davies Church Times Exporting the Brompton Way
“An HTB church-plant is now widely expected when a well-situated urban church’s numbers are low.”
Joanna Ruck The Guardian Easter Sunday around the world – in pictures
Nick Spencer The Telegraph Our politicians are more devout than ever – so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously
Melanie McDonagh The Spectator If you want to save the CofE, then get stuck in (and go to church)
a few Easter sermons
Archbishop of Dublin [There is a link to the full text at the end.]
Archbishop of Canterbury
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Jarrow
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
The following press release from the Church of Scotland has been issued today:
The latest report from the Theological Forum on human sexuality to come before the General Assembly has been published.
The comprehensive document will be considered by Commissioners in Edinburgh next month.
The document has found its way into the public domain ahead of schedule, before all the General Assembly reports are published in the Blue Book on Thursday.
In light of the report appearing in the national press, the Principal Clerk has authorised its immediate publication to allow Commissioners, members of the church and members of the public to understand fully the content and context.
The General Assembly is being asked to consider two key issues.
- Authorise the Legal Questions Committee to undertake a further study on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages and report back to the General Assembly in 2018. *
- Invite the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better.
In releasing the report the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, said: “The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches.
“In years past there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.
“We don’t think like that now.
“That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called ‘constrained difference’.
“This is saying that within limits we can make space for more than one approach.
“It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls ‘mutual flourishing’.
“This is a centrist report, aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing.”
The Principal Clerk, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, said: “It is unfortunate that this report has found its way into the public domain before this year’s volume of Assembly Reports has been published.
“However, it is important that people are now able to access the full report.
“It will now be for the Assembly to decide whether it wants to ask the Legal Questions Committee to pursue further research on the matters which would require to be addressed in any new legislation permitting Ministers and Deacons to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.
“If the General Assembly does move in this direction a further report will be heard in 2018.”
The full text of the report is available here.
The previous report published in 2013 is still available here. As we reported at the time the best analysis of that report was by Law & Religion UK: Men and Women in Marriage, and the Church of Scotland.
The Diocese of Gloucester has this morning announced that Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester between 2004 and 2014, died on the evening of Monday 17 April.
In the announcement, Bishop Michael’s successor as Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Rachel Treweek writes:
It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that Bishop Michael died peacefully at home on Monday evening, April 17, following a special Easter weekend with all the family.
I last saw Bishop Michael on Tuesday 11 April during Holy Week. Not only was it good to share together in the Eucharist on that occasion but also to preside at the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday knowing that the Dean would then be taking Bishop Michael bread and wine from our service in Gloucester Cathedral with the love and prayers of the Diocese.
It was Sunday morning in Jerusalem and the staff at Temple House, administrative headquarters for Religious Affairs, were making their way back to their desks after the short Passover break. They were doing so with some reluctance; last week had been particularly tough across all departments.
It had started in Finance; temple money changers had demanded compensation after someone had been allowed to run amok, overturning their tables. Next, Stewardship had complained that queues of impoverished widows carefully placing single small coins in the treasury were putting off the more prestigious High Value Donors; important men who appreciated neither the wait nor the smell. Around midweek, HR got wind that a man called Lazarus, whose sisters had just claimed welfare payments following his death, was apparently alive and well and walking the streets of Bethany.
Across the corridor, Safeguarding were investigating rumours that an unknown rabbi had been, in the words of a reliable informant, “suffering the little children to come unto him”. There was no documentary evidence of him completing the necessary training. Legal had spent half the week looking into what powers they had to restrict him.
Communications had faced their own problems, when local media published a survey claiming an alarmingly high proportion of Sadducees did not believe in a physical resurrection of the dead. Getting out their rebuttals wasn’t helped by a meltdown in IT. Half the messenger pigeons had come down with bird flu and Maintenance couldn’t promise spares until after the holiday. To top it all, the secretary to the Buildings Committee had spent hours refuting claims that somebody had submitted an application to tear down the Temple and replace it in just three days. “Does nobody realise how many months it takes to approve moving a candlestick, let alone throw up an entire new building, and with unconventional construction techniques?”, she’d exclaimed.
Anyway, today was the start of a new week. Much of the trouble had been traced back to a single maverick preacher. With some help from the Romans, he had been appropriately dealt with. After that the Passover had been fairly quiet.
Actually, like most Passovers they could remember, it had been a bit of a let down. Every year, in the build up to the festival, there was at least a frisson of hope that this would be the time when God would act to save his people. Maybe this Passover would not simply be a remembrance of long ago but the moment when a new deliverance would be accomplished. It never happened, but the annual tinge of post-festival disappointment could not quite be expunged.
And the new week wasn’t shaping up well. Reports coming in suggested unauthorised removal of a body from a grave; was it a matter for Faculty administration? Some witnesses implied there had been violence against the troops guarding the tomb; did this make it a Discipline matter? A woman now claimed to have seen the deceased; perhaps it was a ghost, as he hadn’t allowed her to touch him. Maybe Deliverance were the people to handle it. Still, in every office there’s a place where the complex and difficult problems nobody wants to deal with get dumped, and Religious Affairs was no different. After all, if somebody was wandering around the city carrying a three-day old corpse that had lost its burial wrappings, it just had to be a case for Health and Safety.
David Walker is the Bishop of Manchester.
Bishop of Basingstoke
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishops of Blackburn, Burnley and Lancaster
Bishop of Chichester [3½ minute video]
Bishop of Coventry
Bishop of Dorking
Bishop of Dover
Bishop of Dudley
The Bishop of Durham has two different messages written message video message
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop of Leeds
The Bishop of Liverpool has two different messages written message video message
Bishop of Manchester
Bishop of Newcastle
Bishop of Norwich
Bishop of Oxford
Bishop of St Edmundsbury And Ipswich
Bishop of Sherborne
Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham [4 minute video]
Bishop of Warrington
Bishop of Worcester
Two pieces from The Spectator:
Rod Dreher The Benedict option “Believers must find new, more radical ways to practise their faith.”
and in response
Matthew Parris Why I admire the Church of England “Some disapprove of the church’s frequent accommodations with secular society. I do not.”
Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News A Moment in the Tangle
Two pieces from ABC Religion and Ethics:
Stanley Hauerwas Naming God: The Burning Bush, the Cross and the Hiddenness of the Revealed God
Richard B Hays What Is Handed Over: Maundy Thursday, Memory and the Gospel
Peter Ould looks at a recent ComRes poll poll for Psephizo Do Christians really not believe in the Resurrection?
Richard Coles New Statesman Brexiteers and Remainers alike could learn from the life of Jesus
Alison Ray British Library Medieval manuscripts blog A hunt for medieval Easter eggs — including a 15th-century recipe for an imitation egg
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian The modern pilgrims retracing Britain’s ancient routes
“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.” So wrote Sydney Carter, in a song which will be sung across the country today. (It’s also the fifth most popular copyrighted song in school assemblies according to CCLI.)
Carter himself called it “pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian,” and expected opposition. There’s some truth in his comments — it could be variously labelled as syncretist, universalist, Platonist and several other -ist’s as well — but the numbers tell their own story.
A lot of that is down to the catchy Shaker tune, but the gentle cynicism about the establishment and expansive cosmic vista catch the mood of the times too. What it nearly misses is the agony. “No real people were hurt during the writing of this song.” Nearly — if it wasn’t for the line I began with, where the real struggle shudders through.
And on Good Friday, it must. We’ll sing “Lift High the Cross”, but be careful to balance it with “it causes me to tremble.” We cannot sustain the pretence that Easter has not already happened that the liturgy properly invites; but we dare not pretend that Easter was and is without cost.
For me this Easter some of that cost and contradiction is personal — my father died just a few weeks ago. But it is also ecclesiastical. Strong feelings are swirling around us. Ten bishops out of ten would like to tidy them up. But the lesson of a certain un-noted report was that feelings like these are not to be tidied or managed but lived alongside. We will find God’s good future for us with them, through them, not by burying them and thinking they’re gone. The bench too will have to learn new ways of modelling and leading unity which do not bury its own diversity: something I’ve seen beginning in my days in the House and College, but something we still have to explore further and very tenderly together.
What this mustn’t be, though, is a surrender to the short-cuts of post-truth politics or populist power. If the dance of God is to go on, the choreography of the Kingdom requires all of us to be on the floor, sharing in the exacting task of listening, looking, learning, following, leading — in a pattern that will look very broken if part of it is missing. We will actually need each other to make it work.
As well as doing plenty of personal processing today, then, I’ll also be bringing some very different sorts of friends with me in my mind to the Cross, each of whom has a piece of my heart, acknowledging their hopes and their hurts, sensing the limb-breaking tensions, feeling the weight of the devil on all our backs that would seek to pull us apart: but feeling too the unstoppable rhythm of the dance that will go on.
David Thomson is Bishop of Huntingdon in the diocese of Ely.
When we offer the elements at the Eucharist, in the person of the priest, Jesus takes, blesses, breaks and shares out his Body. At the same time Jesus accepts and sanctifies our sacrifice of thanks and praise. He takes each of us and blesses us. We are broken, too, as we share his suffering for the sake of the world.
And we are shared out as well. Some of us get caught up in lively debates with people who are vehemently opposed to living a life of faith, sometimes with very good reason after a bad experience of the Church. A person said to me that the Church was full of hypocrites, so I told him there was always room for one more. He came back for more and said, “Do you think you’re Jesus or something”? I told him, “In a sense, yes”. I believe it was Austen Farrar who wrote that as Jesus knew his death was drawing near and that he would be taken out of this world, he took not only bread and wine to be his body and blood; he also took those disciples to embody the continuing power of his Incarnation in the world. For if we, the Body of Christ, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, are not living out what Jesus made us at the Last Supper, the expression of his Incarnation in the world today, who else is it going to be? The world has a desperate need for his presence, in the Gospel, in the Eucharist, and in each of us. Somewhere in the complexity of their lives people are invited to discover the living God in the quality of the hospitality which we both offer and receive. If you will, it is the kind of foot washing to which we are all called. Someone has to embody God alongside everyone so that everyone can open up to the God within and around them. It takes the poor in spirit to touch and heal the poverty of the world’s fear and hopelessness. This is a job for us.
So the Eucharist which Christ instituted on the night he was betrayed is not just a memorial of the Last Supper celebrated once a year. It is not just the particular sacramental moment of our regular worship. It is the whole of our life lived in thanksgiving to God. And before we start to back out of the deal because we are unworthy, let us remember that Jesus included Judas in the foot washing and the breaking of bread. No one is left out who does not choose to absent themselves. Give thanks to the God who takes us, who loves us now, and who loves us into becoming that beautiful and holy people whom God already sees. Living as the Body of Christ, the Mass of the Last Supper reminds us, is always about being a guest before ever we are the host. That’s an important lesson about how we engage in God’s mission in God’s world.
Stephen Conway is the Bishop of Ely.
Louie Crew Clay Episcopal Café Sass and the Gospel
Nick Spencer Theos Looking down the well at the resurrection
Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Easter Offering: Duty and Charity
Jenny Sinclair The Tablet Rebuilding the Broken Body
Kelvin Holdsworth Whither the Chrism Mass?
We reported here on the Bishop of Peterborough’s Visitation Charge to the Cathedral. In his charge the bishop urged “the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, and the House of Bishops, to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”. In response to the bishop’s request, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have today announced that they have set up a Cathedrals Working Group. Details are in this press release, which is copied below the fold.
Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK has posted here: Review of the governance of English Cathedrals.
The announcement was anticipated by Catherine Pepinster in yesterday’s Observer: Anglicans launch rescue bid as England’s finest cathedrals battle a financial crisis.
Ruth Gledhill writes today for Christian Today: Cathedrals in England to be given management overhaul after growing cash crisis problems.
Cathedrals Working Group
10 April 2017
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have set up a Cathedrals Working Group, CWG, in response to a request made by the Bishop of Peterborough in his January 2017 Visitation Charge on Peterborough Cathedral for a revision to be carried out of the adequacy of the current Cathedrals Measure.
The CWG will review aspects of cathedral management and governance and produce recommendations for the Archbishops on the implications of these responsibilities with regards to the current Cathedrals Measure. It will be chaired by the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, the former Dean of Rochester Cathedral, and the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull, will be the vice chair.
The Working Group will look at a number of different areas of Cathedral governance, including training and development for cathedral deans and chapters, financial management issues, the procedure for Visitations, safeguarding matters, buildings and heritage and the role of Cathedrals in contributing to evangelism within their dioceses.
The Bishop of Stepney and the Dean of York said:
“Cathedrals contribute uniquely to the ecology of the Church of England, and we are a healthier, stronger church when they flourish. We are pleased to have this opportunity to review the structures that support their ministry, in order to enhance their role in church and society Cathedrals are one of the success stories of the Church of England, with rising numbers of worshippers. They are a vital part of our heritage and make an incalculable contribution to the life of the communities that they serve. This is an exciting opportunity for the Working Group to look at the different aspects of how Cathedrals work, and to ensure that the legislation and procedures they use are fit for purpose for their mission in the 21st century.”
The Group will report back initially to the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and House of Bishops in December 2017. Full membership and terms of reference for the Working Group may be found below.
Notes to Editors
Information about the current Cathedrals Measure, passed in 1999 and specifying how Cathedrals are governed, can be found here.
Terms of Reference
The Cathedrals Working Group has been established by the Archbishops in response to the request from the Bishop of Peterborough in his Visitation Charge “to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”.
The Working Group will therefore review the sufficiency of the Cathedrals Measure in relation to governance structures in cathedrals, with particular reference to:
Major buildings projects
Accountability, oversight and scrutiny
The Working Group will also review:
Leadership capacity, including training and development needs for Deans and Chapters
The relationship of cathedral governance structures to other key partners, especially the Diocesan Bishop, Diocese and Church Commissioners
The planning, execution, communication and implementation of Cathedral Visitations
The Working Group will report back initially to the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and House of Bishops in December 2017, with any recommendations for the revision of the Cathedrals Measure and any other relevant findings.
Chair: Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney
Vice-Chair: Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York
Mrs Julie Dziegel, member of General Synod (Oxford) and of the Archbishops’ Council Finance Committee
Andrew Holroyd OBE, Executive Chairman, Jackson Canter Solicitors, Lay Canon of Liverpool Cathedral
Carl Hughes, Global Leader, Energy & Resources, Deloitte Consulting
Richard Oldfield, Chairman, Oldfield Partners
Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE
Jennie Page CBE, Former Vice Chair of the Cathedral Fabrics Commission for England, Vice Chair, Church Buildings Council
Dr Fiona Spiers, former Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber, Heritage Lottery Fund
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Rt Revd Tim Stevens, former Bishop of Leicester
Catherine Fox Close Encounters The Leaving of Liverpool
Tim Wyatt Church Times Dean of Liverpool named as the next Bishop of Sheffield
Robert Cumber The Star Sheffield’s next bishop vows to restore unity following row over women priests
… Dr Wilcox said: “I will be ordaining with great joy and delight both women and men as priests in the diocese but I will also be hugely supportive of Bishop Glyn (who opposes the ordination of women priests) and respect the traditional Catholic position.” …
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian No 10 names new bishop of Sheffield after row over previous appointee
Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph New Bishop of Sheffield: It’s an ‘enormous privilege’ to proof-read my wife’s raunchy Church novels
[Fifty Shades of Purple is not, as the above article might suggest, a book, but a two-part blog: chapter one chapter two.]
Harry Farley Christian Today New Bishop of Sheffield announced after ‘highly individualised attacks’ forced Philip North to stand down
Glyn Webster Bishop of Beverley Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox
Archbishop Cranmer Sheffield gets its second best bishop – Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool
J Barrett Lee Hopping Hadrian’s Wall Altar Calls: Discussing Liturgical Worship with Evangelicals
Nick Baines Diocese of Leeds Bishop Nick speaks on working with the media
N T Wright ABC Religion and Ethic Palm Sunday: Jesus Rides into the Perfect Storm
Kelvin Holdsworth Thurible Trolleys are for Supermarkets (and not for funerals).
Roger Bolton Church Times The BBC and religion: bad decisions, badly timed
“The Corporation lacks a strategy, and is dangerously out of touch with faith communities.”
Madeleine Davies Church Times Why big churches aren’t led by women
“Care for their families is a key reason hardly any women are incumbents of the Church’s largest churches, a new research paper from Ministry Division has concluded.”
The paper is here: Vocational pathways: Clergy leading large churches.
Anglicans of a certain age may remember the ‘Pink Book’, a collection of traditional hymns set to new melodies. I have it on moderately unreliable information that some of the perpetrators never seriously intended their forced marriage of the words of ‘Vexilla Regis’ to the tune of ‘Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington’ to have any currency beyond an intimate, if misguided, circle, but, as they say, the rest is history. Nevertheless, they would welcome into their circle whoever it was who decided that a jolly good wheeze for Palm Sunday would be to set a rhyme about the Triumphal Entry to the tune of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor’. But my unease about Palm Sunday’s proliferation of donkeys goes beyond the æsthetic.
Two aspects of the donkey ritual in particular strike me. First, is it not curious that, although we willingly cast people as Christ in various forms of Passion play up and down the land, the Palm Sunday donkey is usually unburdened. What are we looking at? And, perhaps more to the point for those for whom the Palm-Sunday-with-a-donkey is a profound act of witness, what is the onlooker supposed to see? Something’s missing.
And my second concern starts in a conversation some years ago when the Palm Sunday liturgy started once more to incorporate the reading of the Passion. An indignant parishioner demanded to know why we were spoiling Palm Sunday with a long Passion reading? Did it not detract from the Triumphal Entry, and also make the service far too long? Should not the Passion reading be left for Good Friday, so we could therefore enjoy the Palm Sunday story unclouded? And, as it happened, they never attended the Holy Week services, so they would bound effortlessly from the cries of ‘Hosanna’ to those of ‘He is risen’.
A riderless donkey and a sanitised liturgy conspire to bypass the messy reality of the Gospel. Attention falls not on the Christ, riding to his doom, but on the anonymous animal, for there is no human figure there to cause us to ask, ‘And what happens next?’ The band of enthusiastic, palm-waving followers may well find unpalatable a fifteen minute reading of the Passion in all its darkness. What bystanders there may be at 09.30 on Sunday will look on with a mixture of bewilderment, amusement and even a little ridicule at this peculiar spectacle.
Yet somehow, in this there is a faithful encounter with the Gospel narrative. Between the lines of the Palm Sunday story we see the enraptured followers, all shouting ‘Hosanna’ and preferring not to think about where this might all be leading. We hear the crowd, puzzled, uncomprehending, asking what all the fuss is about. The donkey in the Gospels might just as well be riderless for all the serious attention being paid to its rider and what he might signify by the locals, by the tourists, and even by the disciples themselves, still reluctant to take to heart Jesus’ dark warnings of what must be. And in Sunday morning’s damp and half-deserted streets there is a genuine echo of Jerusalem’s confused, ambivalent mosaic.
‘We have a king who rides a donkey’ these days might well produce the response, ‘So? The house of Windsor has ridden elephants.’ But the very incoherence of this much-loved Palm Sunday spectacle brings us closer than we could expect to the real Triumphal Entry. In all this tangle of uncomprehending denial, with its over-optimistic disciples, its uncomprehending crowd and its all-but-invisible rider journeying towards a cross about which no-one really wants to think, we find our participant selves.
David Rowett is a priest in the diocese of Lincoln
Bishop of Sheffield: Peter Wilcox
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 7 April 2017
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Peter Jonathan Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool, for election as Bishop of Sheffield.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Peter Jonathan Wilcox, MA, DPhil, Dean of Liverpool, in the diocese of Liverpool, for election as Bishop of Sheffield in succession to the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, on his translation to the See of Oxford on 6 July 2016.
The Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, aged 55, studied history at Saint John’s College, Durham.
He trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge and served his title at Preston-on-Tees, in the diocese of Durham from 1987 to 1990.
From 1990 to 1993, while completing a doctorate at St John’s College, Oxford, he was Non-Stipendiary Minister at Saint Margaret with Saint Philip and Saint James, with Saint Giles in the Diocese of Oxford. From 1993 to 1998 he was Team Vicar in the Parish of Gateshead, in the diocese of Durham, and Director of the Cranmer Hall Urban Mission Centre. From 1998 to 2006 he was Priest-in-Charge at Saint Paul’s at the Crossing, Walsall in the diocese of Lichfield and then Canon Residentiary at Lichfield Cathedral between 2006 and 2012. Since 2012 he has been Dean of Liverpool.
Pete is married to the novelist Catherine Fox, who lectures in creative writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. They have 2 adult sons: Jon, who is married to Izzy, and Tom, who is engaged to Rosa.
He has a mildly obsessive interest in all ball sports, especially (as a fan of Newcastle United) football. He is the author of 3 books, including ‘Living the Dream: Joseph for Today’ (Paternoster, 2007).
The Sheffield diocesan website has Bishop of Sheffield Announced.
Harriet Sherwood has this report in the Guardian Gay clergyman passed over seven times for promotion to bishop
Jeffrey John, a gay senior Anglican churchman, has been passed over for promotion to a bishopric for a seventh time since the Church of England rescinded his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 amid homophobic protests.
John, dean of St Albans Cathedral, was put forward for the post of bishop of Sodor and Man in February, but failed to make it on to the shortlist despite positive feedback. The rejection came shortly before he was passed over for appointment as bishop of Llandaff after objections to his sexuality allegedly were raised.
In the diocese of Sodor and Man, which covers the Isle of Man and surrounding islets, John’s name was considered by the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), an appointment body of 14 people chaired by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and including representatives of the General Synod and from the diocese of Sodor and Man. An open vote confirmed that the panel had no objection to John’s sexuality and long-term civil partnership with Anglican priest Grant Holmes.
But in subsequent secret ballots, John’s name failed to win enough support to ensure a place on a shortlist for interview. Although some members of the CNC were believed to be unhappy with the shortlisting process, an appointment has been made and is expected to be announced in the coming weeks…
…A spokesperson for the C of E said: “We do not comment on Crown Nominations Commission business. We would resist strongly any suggestion that selections for senior appointments are influenced by the sexuality of candidates.”
Updated Thursday evening, Friday morning
Patrick Cox Public Radio International ‘What a total God shot!’ Understand that? Then you speak Christianese.
The Guardian The Guardian view on funding heritage: save buildings if not beliefs
“The ancient churches and cathedrals of Britain are real national treasures, shared with unbelievers. They must be paid for.”
Nick Baines Diocese of Leeds Bishop Nick speaks on working with the media
Liz Graveling Ministry Development Larger Churches: Who leads them and where are all the women?
[Update: This article has been temporarily removed and will be reposted after Easter.]
Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury
Bishop Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth
Tuesday 4th April 2017
Bishop Tim will take up the post in September, replacing Bishop Nigel Stock, who is retiring.
Lambeth Palace is pleased to announce the appointment of Rt Revd Tim Thornton, the current Bishop of Truro, as the new Bishop at Lambeth.
Bishop Tim will take up this post in September, replacing Rt Revd Nigel Stock, who is retiring.
His duties at Lambeth will include supporting the Archbishop of Canterbury’s work in the House of Bishops, General Synod and the Archbishop’s Council.
He will also be heavily involved in the Lambeth Conference 2020, and take on the role of Bishop to the Forces.
Bishop Tim became Bishop of Truro in 2009. During his time as bishop he co-chaired an inquiry into foodbanks which led to the report Feeding Britain, and was President of the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association. He is chair of the Development and Appointments Group which oversees the leadership development work among senior clergy.
Bishop Tim said: “It has been a privilege to serve as bishop in this very special part of the country. I have especially enjoyed being part of the wider life of the county and community, as well as working with wonderful colleagues to implement a strategy for discovering God’s kingdom and growing the church.
“It will of course be a real sadness to leave Cornwall. However I am very much looking forward to working with the staff at Lambeth, and thinking about how we continue to embed Archbishop Justin’s priorities of prayer, evangelism and reconciliation into the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
“I am particularly interested in the Archbishop’s emphasis on spirituality and prayer, and seeing how the incredible work of Thy Kingdom Come continues to flourish.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“I am delighted to be welcoming Bishop Tim to Lambeth Palace. He brings a wealth of experience to the role. He already has extensive knowledge and understanding of the College and House of Bishops, and a heart for those on the margins of society, who are often overlooked. His work on Feeding Britain demonstrates his range of ability and skill in bringing people together.”
Bishop Tim is married to Sian and they have two children and three grandchildren.
Martyn Percy has written another article on this topic.
The press release is here: Not a matter of opinion: Discernment, difference and discrimination. The text is copied below the fold.
To read the full article follow the link in the press release.
The Oxford theologian who called for the conservative bishop nominated as the next leader of the Diocese of Sheffield to clarify his position on women’s ministry or decline the nomination has called for ‘a thorough and wholesale review’ of gender-based discrimination in the Church of England.
The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, has published a follow-up essay in response to criticism of his stance in an article published on the website of Modern Church, a society promoting breadth and depth in Christian theology, of which Prof Percy is a Vice President.
In Not a Matter of Opinion: Discernment, Difference and Discrimination, Professor Percy argues that:
The Sheffield debacle began to unravel some time before I published my original essay on the issue. At the consultation stage of the process to select a new bishop, the women clergy of the diocese were asked, informally, if they would welcome a woman bishop. In what can only be described as an act of gracious magnanimity, they said ‘no’, indicating that the diocese was not ready for this yet… The women at no stage were asked if they would accept a bishop who did not ordain women.
Since no-one consulted on whether the Diocese of Sheffield would welcome a bishop who would not ordain women, he continues:
What happened next was inevitable: the views which should have been gathered by the drafting group could only be voiced once Philip North had been selected. Parishes and clergy duly registered their concerns, in large numbers. The postbag was enormous, and grew daily. This was no organised campaign. It was ordinary people, concerned about the impact of gender-based discrimination in their local parishes. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Percy contrasts research showing that companies where women are strongly represented at board level in the FTSE 100 Index tend to out-perform their male-dominated competitors with the Church of England’s idea of ‘balance’: evening up the number of ‘traditionalist’ bishops with women bishops:
The Church of England consistently sends out mixed signals. It is good to have women clergy, apparently. But please, don’t let us celebrate this too much for fear of upsetting those who still want to engage in gender-based discrimination.
He argues that the Church of England needs ‘a thorough and wholesale review’ of the Five Guiding Principles which the House of Bishops adopted in 2014 as a concession to conservatives who opposed the ordination of women as bishops, since it cannot deliver the the ‘mutual flourishing’ it promises. But he would want to see the review go much further:
Not just of the ‘Five Guiding Principles’, and the question of whether or not a ‘traditionalist’ can ever be a diocesan bishop. These are mere symptoms of the deeper malaise. What the Church of England now needs to review is just one thing: discrimination.
Percy calls the Five Guiding Principles
merely a ‘cease fire’ in the Church of England’s long saga of ‘Gender Wars’. Or a truce, at best. But these ‘Principles’ cannot bring peace. Because a temporary political solution cannot resolve our deep theological divisions. Only deeper theology will bring us lasting peace. Such theology will be founded on equality and inclusion, not dubious ‘equal-but-different’ discriminatory reasoning.
He does not wish to see groups that oppose the ordination of women, whether Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical, cease to be part of the Church of England, as
They are part of the body of Christ and more unites us than divides us.
But he challenges the wisdom of resourcing them to extend their influence in the wider national church while they still believe in and practise gender-based discrimination.
JUST ABOUT MANAGING
by Stephen Bates
A week after the election of Pope Francis four years ago, the Anglicans installed Justin Welby as their new spiritual leader. His crisp, business-like approach contrasted with that of his predecessor, Rowan Williams, but recent events suggest there may be limits to its effectiveness
Four years ago this month, both the Catholic and Anglican churches put into office leaders very different in style and character from their predecessors. In Pope Francis, the conclave of cardinals got more than they bargained for: a zealous, humane figure seemingly bent on giving Catholicism a thorough shake. But what of Justin Welby, enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury a week after Francis’ election – a managerial, evangelical figure chosen to replace the deeply spiritual, intellectual Rowan Williams?
Under Welby there seems to have been a distinct tightening up of the CofE’s traditionally meandering managerial style. Where Williams agonisingly sought compromise and delay, Welby seeks decisions. (It somehow seems appropriate that while everyone called Rowan by his first name, many use the current archbishop’s surname.) The decisiveness is not always welcome, but it is a change.
As is well known, Welby, 61, had a career before ordination. The first Etonian to become Archbishop of Canterbury for 150 years, he read history and law at Cambridge and was an executive in the oil industry until becoming ordained in his mid-thirties. He had only two years’ experience as a bishop before being elevated to Canterbury, though he had previously served as dean of Liverpool.
The crisp business style is notable, according to those who have observed him at close hand. Christina Rees was a lay member of the Archbishops’ Council – the Church’s executive – working with four archbishops until she stepped down last year. “I think of him as Action Man,” she says. “He is very brisk, businesslike and a quick study. At his first meeting, someone was rambling on in traditional Anglican style and the archbishop started looking at his watch. When the man finished, he just said: ‘That was six minutes, let’s keep comments down to 90 seconds.’ I’d never seen an archbishop calling someone out for waffling before. It was quite brutal.”
The brusqueness can verge into bad temper, others say. One bishop remarked: “I haven’t been spoken to like that since I was at school.” He is impatient of challenge or contradiction and can be short with those who do not keep up or amuse him intellectually.
Welby’s strengths include public relations savviness – never shown to better advantage than when it was revealed last year that his father was not the man who had brought him up but a diplomat with whom his mother had had a brief affair. His assured handling turned a potential embarrassment into a story of personal redemptive faith, and strengthened his reputation. “He has done a world of good for the Church’s public image,” says Rod Thomas, the Bishop of Maidstone, whose pugnacious brand of conservative evangelicalism was often a thorn in the flesh of Williams. “He is joyful in the faith and a reconciling presence.”
Welby is impressive speaking in small groups, showing genuine interest and empathy, though his preaching style is bland and often mundane, rather than inspirational and challenging. One vicar told me how he had gone to a Lenten talk and heard the old trope about a crucifix ornament “with a little man on it”: “We’ve all used that one, but not pretended it had happened to us personally. I thought it was weird and dishonest.”
The businesslike approach was seen early in the way the consecration of women bishops was hustled through shortly after Welby’s elevation: a decision that had caused anguished debate for years was finally accomplished and followed by something close to a rush by dioceses to be among the first to make the move. Welby, unlike some evangelicals, is comfortable with women’s ordination – a fact of Anglican life almost since he was ordained priest in 1993 – and his two chaplains at Lambeth have both been women.
But what had appeared to be a done deal, universally accepted, was called into question by the appointment of Philip North, from the Church’s High Anglo-Catholic wing, to be diocesan bishop of Sheffield. North, although widely respected, is a council member of the quaintly named Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, a title commonly shortened to “The Society”, composed of clergy and parishes that do not accept women’s ordination. It has even taken to issuing membership cards to indicate their freedom from the taint of female clergy’s touch.
North would have inherited a diocese where nearly a third of the clergy are women and following a welter of criticism he decided last week to stand down, prompting a new outburst of internecine squabbling. This has left the question unresolved whether a bishop who will not ordain women whose orders are accepted by the rest of the Church can fulfil the traditional episcopal purpose of being a focus for diocesan unity. Thirteen years ago Rowan Williams retreated – disastrously for his reputation – from the appointment of Jeffrey John, an avowedly gay cleric, as Bishop of Reading in the face of evangelical protests on precisely the grounds that he could not be a focus for unity.
The North appointment was not Welby’s decision but that of the Crown Nominations Commission. But on the still divisive gay issue Welby is “on a journey”, as they say, and that is what caused his first setback last month. At the General Synod, a bishops’ report that both Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu of York had strongly supported advocating no change in the Church’s stance on the blessing of gay partnerships or the conducting of gay marriages, was narrowly rejected. Although the report was almost unanimously backed by the bishops, and less decisively by the laity, it narrowly failed by seven votes to obtain the assent of the synod’s clergy members.
The report itself was the Church’s latest attempt to reconcile deeply divergent and antagonistic views on gays, and a number of bishops have claimed privately that they were coerced by Welby into supporting it despite their reservations. “His style is a transactional relationship: you support this and I’ll give you something else,” said one.
Canon Chris Chivers, principal of Westcott House theological college in Cambridge, says: “I think the bishops now realise they were played. It is his first major rebuff: he miscalculated – you can herd the bishops into line, but the clergy are less easily controlled.”
After the vote, Welby and Sentamu issued a statement promising a rethink producing “radical inclusion” but, essentially, same-sex marriage has been kicked into touch at least until after the 2020 Lambeth Conference of the world’s Anglican bishops. For now, Welby has managed to keep the worldwide communion show on the road and to head off any boycott of the conference, but it is an uneasy truce, achieved by bland words and sleight of hand – and Third World conservatives are suspicious. Welby has extensive experience of Africa, where some of the most intransigent bishops come from, but mutterings remain. His whistlestop consultation tour before a primates’ meeting last year did not go down particularly well, being regarded as an exercise in neo-colonialism by those determined to look for slights.
At home, other critics suggest Welby has shown a lack of interest in grassroots, rural Anglicanism, coming as he does from the suburban evangelical strand popularised by Holy Trinity Brompton, originator of the Alpha course. Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, the leading sociologist of religion, says: “Rural parishes are among the most successful but he has neglected them in favour of the city churches. The average church attender is an older woman and yet the initiatives have all been towards recruiting and encouraging younger, urban people and Alpha-type churches.”
Others suggest that the problem is a lack of theological depth at the heart of the Church’s episcopacy. “They are like a bench of Labradors,” one suffragan told me. “Perfectly nice, gentle creatures but you want a bit of variety in the breed.”
Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, has emerged as one of Welby’s critics. He accuses the archbishop of short-term pragmatism and not being reflective enough. Welby himself admits that he is not a professional theologian and some suggest that it shows in his recently published first book Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace, a series of Lenten reflections. Percy says: “He has got an instinctive grasp of what needs to be done but pragmatic fixes have their limits. If you don’t do the theology you can’t move forward, you just go round in circles.”
On the other hand, Chivers says: “There is something very middle-England about him which appeals to the core constituency of Anglicans. They don’t do theology much either. That makes him ideal.”
Stephen Bates is a former religious affairs correspondent of The Guardian.
Bosco Peters Liturgy Pope Francis to make Martin Luther a Saint on October 31
ABC Religion and Ethics published this piece by Michael Collett God and the problem of sincere disbelief followed by this reply from Michael Jensen Sincerity is not enough: the problem with the problem of sincere disbelief.
Rhian Taylor pcn britain It’s a Man’s Church
Sam Charles Norton Elizaphanian Let my people go
Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Oxford, Sheffield, Llandaff etc
Mark Hart Church Times The C of E’s unsung success story
David Ison ViaMedia.News The Power of Feeling over Thinking
James Jones The Yorkshire Post House of God opens a door to the divine
Forgiveness takes some making sense of. For a long time I really saw forgiveness as something I was called upon to do. And I did do it, to the best of my ability. Then the long slow agony of my marriage ground to its death, and I was left with a burden of guilt, although it was not I alone who was responsible for its sad withering, nor I who dealt the wretched remnants their coup de grace.
Ten years later, and in a totally unexpected way, I found I was in the flowering of a new relationship. As I moved towards the second marriage I had never expected, I realised I was experiencing being forgiven. Not so much intellectually as practically and spiritually. It was as sweet in my mouth as honey and as refreshing as oranges. It was dawn. It was birth.
I have been trying to make sense of the link between death and forgiveness. The gospels sense it, that is for sure. Jesus forgives, and he heals. People are glad of the healing, shocked at the forgiveness. ‘Which is easier to say?’ he asks the crowd around the paralysed, ‘You are forgiven, or get up and walk?’ He can prove he can do one. But while they can believe a man has the right to heal, only God can forgive. And in John, finally, Jesus forgives Lazarus out of the tomb. And in gratitude for that forgiveness, his sister anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her unbound hair. An act the synoptics keep for a whore, who (they feel) has been forgiven more.
So Jesus, in all four gospels, shocks the authorities into coming after him. By claiming authority which can never really belong to a mere human. (Though, to be fair, he does other things as well in the synoptics to show he arrogates an authority nobody on earth gives him.)
Forgiveness is shocking. It is shocking because of the magnitude of hurt it sets behind itself. Here, I think, lies its inextricable link with death. The burdens of guilt we carry are real, or are usually real. We have done terrible things. People starve because of unfair trade. People die from ‘benefit sanctions’. Girls in British schools bleed into sports socks because nobody can afford sanitary towels or tampons for them. We scream at those we love. We look at our phones and not our children.
These things are bitter and cruel, and they spring out of damage and create more damage. Even when they do not end in an actual death, they all create dark. Even in saying that, we fool ourselves, because often enough real people die. This is less than a tithe of the damage we do, which we are asked to see, and to repent of.
We never see (on this earth anyhow) the full extent of the damage we do. Our repentance is, I think, only capable of being truly fulfilled in the assurance offered by love. It is in the arms of God that we are best able to see the harm we do, and repent of it. To seek a new mind and therefore a new life.
This is, in a way, really unfair, for we are asked to forgive at a higher cost than that at which we receive forgiveness. We are asked to forgive others, who are apparently heedless of the hurt they cause, and who do not repent. It is a hard demand.
We, ourselves, are asked to take a gulp, and it is that same gulp which Jesus took. We are asked to swallow pain and grief. To take our part in the forgiving of things. To offer honey and oranges to those who have really truly hurt us. To let ourselves forget, and where we cannot forget, to let the pain be, to occupy no more of our lives than it has to claim. And where the hurt is new or especially grievous, we cannot forget. There, I believe, the command is to let the wrong be ringed by other, and good, things. To accept death, the death of hopes, and joys, and peace, and to recognise what is left, and what is still good in life, and so not be bound by the evil, but instead to look to a new birth.
That much I knew, but what I have learned is this: in return Forgiveness offers us the same. ‘The past is buried for me,’ she says, ‘Move ahead. Fill your mouth with honey and oranges. Lift your eyes, see the dawn. There is a wholly new, clean birth for you.’ I have come to believe that only when we see our own dawn can we learn how to offer that dawn to others. I think we can have a benign circle, a circle of grace to enjoy as we rise towards joy instead of a spiral into death.
These are, I know, Easter words, unseasonable. But forgiving and forgiven are inextricably linked. The Lenten command to forgive, and the Easter command to be forgiven. This is the very enormity of the offer, which we take with us into Passiontide.
Rosemary Hannah is a historian and author. She lives in Scotland.