Friday, 24 March 2017

Bishop of Sheffield: Joint statement by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

The Archbishops have issued the following statement today.

Bishop of Sheffield: Joint statement by Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Friday 24th March 2017

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York made this joint statement today on the recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield.

“The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

“We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

“Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.”

+ Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracensis

Download the Archbishops’ letter to Sir Philip Mawer

The text of the letter is copied below the fold.

Forward in Faith has issued this statement: Forward in Faith welcomes reference to the Independent Reviewer.

23 March 2017

Dear Sir Philip Mawer,

Nomination to the See of Sheffield and concerns raised about the operation of the House of Bishops’ declaration under Regulation 27

We are writing to ask you, in your capacity as Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address certain concerns that have arisen in the Church following recent events relating to the See of Sheffield.

We do not set out the events in any detail here. You will doubtless be aware of the main elements:

  • on 6 July 2016 the See of Sheffield became vacant following the translation of Bishop Steven Croft from Sheffield to Oxford
  • on 31 January 2017 HM Government announced that, following the usual process of nomination of candidates by the Crown Nominations Commission to the Prime Minister, HM The Queen had been pleased to approve the nomination of Bishop Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, to the See of Sheffield
  • on 9 March 2017 Bishop Philip North announced that he had withdrawn his acceptance of the nomination.

This sequence of events has prompted some in the Church to question whether the House of Bishops’ Declaration of May 2014, and its five Guiding Principles, and the commitment the Church made in it to “mutual flourishing”, remain intact.

As Archbishops, Primates and Metropolitans, we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing. The Declaration formed a central element of the settlement by which we were able both to welcome women joyfully into all the orders of ministry in the Church, and also to continue to provide an honoured and permanent place in the Church for those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable, to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests.

But as Archbishop Sentamu noted in his statement commenting on Bishop Philip’s withdrawal, we are conscious that in some of the discussion about the See of Sheffield, we have not always as a Church shown how we can disagree Christianly.

Although we are clear that the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and the Guiding Principles embodied in it, remain in full force and effect, we recognise that the recent events have nonetheless raised a number of specific concerns in the Church about its operation. Some of those concerns relate to whether the nomination itself, and the procedure leading up to it, were in accordance with the Declaration. Others are about whether what happened once the nomination had been announced was consistent with the Declaration. Others relate to the degree of understanding of the Declaration in the Church.

Given the significance of these concerns (many of which have been expressed to us directly) from the point of view of the future outworking of the Declaration in the life of the Church, we therefore request you to exercise your power, as the Independent Reviewer under Regulation 27, to consider and report on the operation of the Declaration from the point of view of:

(a) what has been done in the Church, including in the diocese of Sheffield, to inform and educate clergy and laity about the settlement agreed in 2014, and the effect of the Declaration within that settlement;

(b) the process leading to the nomination of Bishop Philip North to the See of Sheffield;

(c) the consistency of that nomination with the Declaration;

(d) the reactions to that nomination in the Church and beyond; and

(e) the response of the institutional Church to the nomination and to the reactions to it.

We hope that you will be willing to investigate these concerns and that, once you have been able to do so, you will be able to produce your report on them with the minimum of delay.

The Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd & Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 24 March 2017 at 1:20pm GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Time for Grace: Bishops’ responses to the concept of Unity in Diversity

Editors’ note: this is a guest piece by Susannah Clark.

It is obvious to any observer that the Church of England is faced with a stand-off on the issue of human sexuality, and is divided down the middle, trending in the direction of acceptance of gay and lesbian sex, but with people of good faith and strong conscience on either side, along with diverse views motivated by complex implications, related to understanding of gender, Communion-wide consequences, and the risk of schism in the English provinces. In these contexts it is disingenuous to suggest that there is a uniform position in the Church, or even among the bishops (as I have discovered for myself this month), whatever the ‘front’ of collegiality that gets projected. Indeed, the rejection of the ‘Anglican Covenant’ in England indicated that most people did not want a uniformity of view imposed on Anglicans, or the domination of one conscience by another one. This stand-off clearly cannot be resolved by political struggle over ‘Who is right?’ which only leads toward schism and, for many, what really matters is finding the grace to love one another, seeking the flourishing of those we disagree with, and finding our unity in Jesus Christ: a Unity in Diversity. The whole of the rest of the Church’s mission is too vital, and too important, for the Church to keep floundering and expending so much energy on sexuality in a perpetual stand-off.

To this end, I set out a case for the accommodation of diverse views, and wrote to 109 bishops, with the proviso that ‘no reply was expected or assumed’. Considering I am simply an obscure nurse it is touching that, in the event, 31 bishops have so far corresponded with me, expressing a wide range of views and positions, and demonstrating that there is indeed no uniformity of belief on these issues.

While not naming individual bishops out of respect for confidentiality, and mostly not quoting verbatim, I have detailed the issues raised by 14 of these bishops (and see below), whose statements typify the diversity of episcopal opinions and some of the problems and challenges we face. These problems of implementation are very realistically reviewed by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, in his address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod. I have not included the views of the Bishops of Buckingham and Bradwell which have already been well-publicised and both of which regret the recent Bishops’ Report of which the General Synod declined to take note — as did 14 retired bishops.

In the end, if we cannot respect and accommodate sincere but diverse views, and allow priests, PCCs and local churches to follow their consciences in the service of their own communities, we run the risk of evangelistic alienation of those communities, and alienation from one another as Christians. There is a strong case, reflected in the Bishops’ responses to me, not for imposed uniformity, but for the grace to disagree well in a broad and diverse Church. As Bishop John Wraw said: “There are very differing views on this [lgbti inclusion] within the Church of England and across the Anglican Communion, but there is much more we hold in common. Unity in Christ is a fact, a command, a promise; not simply something we can opt in and out of as we pick and choose. We need to live with our differences.” Indeed, perhaps the real test for us all is not “Who is right?”, but “Can we find abundance of grace and love?”… to co-exist, to serve, to welcome, to live with the diversity to which each one of us is called, uniquely, differently, in good conscience, as we are drawn towards that community of the Trinity, which is the eternal household of God, in whom alone in the end our unity is found — not in imposed uniformity or dogmatic correctness.

Perhaps we need to stop trying to dominate one another, and ‘winning the argument’. Perhaps really the argument is won to the extent we find love and grace for one another: accommodating each other’s consciences and as a Church becoming more than our individual parts, growing through our need for grace and the primary biblical imperative to exercise love, even uncomfortable love where people disagree. In short we arguably need a kind of power-sharing and peace process in the Church of England to end the long decades of stand-off and conflict, and turn to all the other crying needs of our communities: poverty, health and social care, loneliness, lostness, marginal lives, material craving and spiritual wastes; and the breakdown and atomisation of society, that in some ways we sadly mirror when we separate ourselves from each other in the Church, and let dogma polarise us rigidly, when actually it can separate and drive us apart, where grace might reconcile us and love might be calling us daily, with our diverse consciences and diverse expressions of faith, but giving us lives of sharing, and helping us bear in our own wounds and healing the touch of God’s love for hurting, yearning hearts.

To do this credibly, we need to demonstrate real love for each other, so people can see… not ‘how uniform we are’ but ‘how we love one another’. That challenge to love is surely, also, the challenge the bishops must face and are facing. No-one said it would be easy. They have written to me sincerely and with touching honesty. But in the face of decades more stand-off and division perhaps, as one of them says, “the key issue is Unity in Diversity” and as another states, “agreeing to disagree will have to be acknowledged in some way.” The crisis in the Church of England cannot be resolved by one side ‘winning’. Descending into schism and division is not winning. Grace is winning. Love is winning. Mutually recognising divergent consciences is winning. Unity in Diversity may face degrees of opposition, but it does at least reflect the realities of the Church of England — and what better solution exists for preventing wholesale schism and the dismantling of a broad and tolerant Church?

(The extended entry contains quotations from some of the responses received.)

These are typical issues raised by 14 bishops who wrote to me, illustrating the tensions and difficulties faced:

  • the problem of many conflicting priorities and claims
  • the absence of any easy answers
  • the difficulty of adopting the same approach as was taken over women bishops because gay marriage is not the same order of issue
  • that I’ve nailed the issue, but would the CofE permit diversity on this question?
  • the desire for a church where room is made for all, more wholeheartedly than we are able to do at the moment
  • huge disappointment with the bishops’ report, pleasure it was not noted, almost exact agreement over Unity in Diversity, but possible under-estimation of the conservative response if this approach was adopted
  • if the Church could model a different way of living unity in diversity, it would have much to show a wider society, which seems to be fragmenting at an alarming rate
  • my proposal for Unity in Diversity could be supported if it was presented to GS, is not that radical, and if anything is pragmatic, leaving one wishing for a more radical, whole-heartedly inclusive position
  • the basic thesis of agreeing to disagree will have to be acknowledged in some way
  • unity in diversity may well come into play in the difficult days ahead, love and grace seem in short supply
  • agreement that we need to “co-exist in a ‘unity in diversity’” — and many would agree; however, the reason this is not straightforward is that for a number in the Church the issue of human sexuality is a first order issue and a matter of salvation, and therefore it does not become possible for them to remain in a Church which accepts other possibilities
  • we are living in difficult times … particularly struck by the comment “In other words, rather than trying to “win” … love and grace” which is spot on
  • it is a complex subject … but the key issue is unity in diversity.
  • in terms of the way forward, your suggestions, a third ethical approach, often categorised as virtue ethics, as well as deontological and utilitarian ethics need to be very robustly tested and set alongside each other in a way akin to Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do. His exploration of marriage in that book exemplifies the sort of discussion we need to engage in and which the generation of a teaching document should involve.
Posted by Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 22 March 2017 at 11:02am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Monday, 20 March 2017

See of Sheffield: Affirming Catholicism responds

A response to the nomination of the Rt Revd Philip North to, and his resignation from, the Diocese of Sheffield March 2017

Affirming Catholicism has watched with deep concern the circumstances surrounding the nomination of the Rt Reverend Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield and his subsequent withdrawal from that nomination. We are very aware of the hurt caused to many of those involved, including to many of the clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Sheffield and +Philip himself. We believe that the current situation reflects a failure to take seriously – on several sides – the Five Guiding Principles (see below) but we also believe that it illustrates how difficult is going to be to put these principles into practice, and reveals how much hurt and distrust still exists within the Church of England around questions of the ordination of women and the place in the Church of those who cannot accept it. It seems to us that the Church of England needs to reflect carefully on the three concepts which underpin the Five Guiding Principles: simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.

We have been surprised by the apparent lack of recognition in some quarters of the fact that the Church of England has since 1994 been living with a situation in which a small minority of its bishops are in some sense “not in communion” with their female clergy. This situation existed before the admission of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, and we believe that reflecting on experiences of such situations can shed some light on what has happened over the past weeks.

There can be no question that clergy – including female clergy – and lay people who affirm the ordination of women can flourish in dioceses in which the diocesan bishop does not ordain women. Indeed, the Five Principles were in part predicated on the fact that relationships in such contexts had been found to be not only workable, but capable of promoting flourishing amongst all the clergy and lay people of such dioceses. It should probably also be recognised, however, that the dioceses where this is the case have often had a long history of having bishops who have had doubts about the ordination of women, and that this self-understanding has played a role in how relationships function.

Moreover, it is important that the complexities in describing experiences of ministry not be underestimated. The same situation may be experienced by different people in very different ways. One priest may experience the ministry of her bishop who does not recognise her priestly ordination as personally supportive and deeply affirming. Another may experience the ministry of the same bishop as profoundly undermining and unfriendly.

It must also be recognised that very difficult situations have sometimes arisen, in which female clergy have found themselves subject to discrimination, or opponents of women’s ministry have been appointed to parishes without proper consultation even when female clergy were already in post.

Those who do not accept the ordination of women have similar stories and mixed experiences from their own perspective.

We are aware too that the two positions which the Church of England is seeking to hold together are rooted in very different – and even opposed – understandings of what it means for women to be created in the image of God. For those who cannot accept the ministry of ordained women or those ordained by a woman, women are created spiritually equal but are called to different offices or ministries, or to a different place in the order of creation. For those who rejoice at the ordination of women, this is a fulfilment of a gospel imperative to equality, articulated in Paul’s recognition that “In Christ there is no male of female” (Galatians 3:28), and only slowly recognised after many centuries, and now anchored also in law. It is very hard for some of those who believe this is the case to understand how it can be right to take a different view on the ministry of women, or how that ministry can be properly affirmed by a diocesan bishop who does not ordain women.

All this results in complex series of relationships which are not easy to negotiate. And all too often it is the bad news stories which have been shared, whilst reports of flourishing across difference have been less prevalent. We believe that it is not always appreciated how much hurt has been caused and trust lost though the way in which the Church of England decided to proceed, not only in the ordination of women to the episcopate, but also in the ordination of women to the priesthood. We suggest that it would be helpful for the Church of England to compile a series of case studies which offer examples of mutual flourishing across difference, whilst being realistic about the difficulties which are sometimes expressed.

The settlement which the Church of England reached in order for women to be ordained to the priesthood and to the episcopate may be seen as theologically or ecclesiologically inconsistent. Consciously paradoxical, it was intended to enable the Church of England to move forward and the whole church to flourish. The Five Guiding Principles affirm that the Church is a community, not an organisation, and that its business is love, not unanimity.

What has happened in Sheffield raises profound questions about the integrity of the Church of England’s paradoxical way forward. If the Church of England is to make progress in moving forward together over the issue of same-sex blessings and same-sex marriage and leaving behind the double-think that LGBTI clergy currently face, it will be necessary to develop a similar accommodation whereby we agree to live together with profound disagreement. The current situation has shown vividly how painfully little trust exists in the Church of England across differences about the ordination of women. It shows the immense challenges facing the Church of England as it seeks to move forward together with a similar respect for difference on the issue of human sexuality.

Affirming Catholicism believes that the church is not a place in which there need to be winners and losers. Rather, other ways of living with difference are possible. These require of all involved patience, tolerance and openness – and in this way the fostering of trust.

The Five Guiding Principles are:

  • Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;
  • Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;
  • Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and
  • Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 March 2017 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (75) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 March 2017

Exeter Cathedral

It has been announced that both the Dean and the Precentor of Exeter are to step down, following the critical Visitation report of the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell. The statement on the Cathedral website says that:

the Dean, the Very Rev Jonathan Draper, has announced that he will retire at the end of August this year.

Until the end of August the Dean is on holiday, and then on sabbatical leave. Additionally:

Canon Victoria Thurtell has resigned from her post of Precentor with immediate effect, and is looking forward to a new ministry in due course.

The announcement continues:

To help the Cathedral continue its worshipping life, Bishop Martin Shaw has been appointed Acting Precentor, with immediate effect. The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, will provide pastoral oversight to the Cathedral during this time. Canon Dr Mike D Williams will Chair Chapter.

BBC News has a report here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 13 March 2017 at 10:49am GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 12 March 2017

More on the See of Sheffield

Some further statements by various organisations or individuals:

Some comment articles (See also yesterday’s Opinion roundup)

And, from the Sheffield diocesan website:

Sheffield Diocese Introductory meeting with Women Clergy, Chaplains, Curates and Ordinands

Note this meeting occurred on 7 February but this document was apparently posted only on 7 March. It is well worth reading in full.

Two items from BBC Radio this morning:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 4:11pm GMT | Comments (48) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Bishop Philip North declines the See of Sheffield

Updated Thursday night and Friday morning

Statement from the Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd Philip North

09 March 2017
It is with regret and sadness that I have decided that I am unable to take up the nomination as Bishop of Sheffield.

The news of my nomination has elicited a strong reaction within the diocese and some areas of the wider Church. It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many.

I am grateful for the love, prayers and care that have been shown me over recent weeks by numerous people, especially the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Blackburn and the clergy of the Blackburn Diocese. In particular I would like to thank the Bishop of Doncaster and the diocesan team in Sheffield for their support.

I apologise to the many for whom this decision will come as a disappointment. There is clearly much to be done on what it means to disagree well and to live with theological difference in the Church of England. The highly individualised nature of the attacks upon me have been extremely hard to bear. If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love, how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the name of Christ? I hope though that this conversation can continue in the future without it being hung upon the shoulders of one individual.

I do not doubt for one single second the Lordship of Christ or his call upon my life, but the pressures of recent weeks have left me reflecting on how He is calling me to serve him. I am grateful to the Bishop of Blackburn for allowing me a period of leave to reflect on and pray about the events of the past few weeks and would ask for this space to be respected. I hope that, as we continue on the Lenten journey, we will each be able to hear God’s voice speaking to us in the wilderness, drawing forth order and beauty from the messy chaos of our lives.

Notes to editors:

A statement from 10 Downing Street: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bishop-of-sheffield-philip-north?
A statement from the Archbishop of York: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3610/archbishop-of-york-statement-on-bishop-philip-north
A statement from the Bishop of Blackburn: http://www.blackburn.anglican.org/events_more.asp?events_id=2291
A statement from the Bishop of Doncaster: http://www.sheffield.anglican.org/news/statement-from-the-bishop-of-doncaster-regarding-the-rt-revd-philip-north

The Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd Philip North will not be available for any interviews.

Update (Thursday night)

A statement from The Society

A statement from Forward in Faith

Update (Friday morning)

Plenty of press coverage of this story including:

Church Times
Christian Today and also this covering the reaction.

And a selection from the mainstream media:

BBC
The Telegraph
The Guardian
The Times
The Mail

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 March 2017 at 5:34pm GMT | Comments (129) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Bishop at Lambeth to retire

The Archbishop of Canterbury had announced today that Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, will retire in August 2017. Bishop Nigel’s successor will be announced in April.

Bishop Nigel is also Bishop to the Armed Forces, and, as such, a member of General Synod and the House of Bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 6:05pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Discussion continues about the See of Sheffield

Updated again Tuesday

Continued from here.

The Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows has issued: Pastoral Letter for clergy and licensed lay members of the Diocese of Sheffield.

Arun Arora has written in the Yorkshire Post Why the CoE must be a broad church when it comes to new Bishop of Sheffield.

And in the same newspaper, a letter from Malcolm Grundy Bishop’s opposition to women priests should rule him out

Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian Sheffield’s new bishop is a slap in the face for the women of steel.

The Church Times has a lengthy roundup: Women Bishops rally round Philip North in Sheffield row

Andrew Lightbown Sheffield’s very own gordian knot

The Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality website has links to many other items:

The Sheffield Diocesan statement of needs that informed the CNC selection process is still available on the diocesan website.

Updates

Richard Peers wrote Oh for the wings of a dove: the Bishop of Sheffield and the betrayal of communion

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme has a lengthy report, available here, starting at about 31 minutes in.

Louise Haigh MP writes open letter to the new Bishop of Sheffield

Martyn Percy Abstaining: A Lenten Reflection (on Sheffield)

Joanna Collicut Splitting: a psychological reflection

Janet Morley A single church or a partnership?

Jonathan Clatworthy a three part series:
Sheffield’s women: who should tolerate what?
Sheffield’s women and church fudge
third part to come…

WATCH Looking for balance.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 March 2017 at 1:56pm GMT | Comments (70) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

A letter from Bishop John Wraw

John Wraw is Bishop of Bradwell, in the Chelmsford diocese. A letter from him has been published on the diocesan website, prefaced by this note:

John Wraw took up his role as Bishop of Bradwell in the Diocese of Chelmsford five years ago. He was diagnosed with cancer two years later. The type of cancer he has is incurable.

Bishop John has always been open and honest about living with his condition.

Writing a moving letter to the Clergy of the diocese today about his prognosis, he reviews developments in the Church and Diocese, and he discusses his hopes for a well-founded theology of relationships, friendship and marriage leading in time to a full acceptance of same sex marriage.

The letter can be read via this link. I do recommend reading it all, as it is very moving. But the last few paragraphs read as follows:

…However, the current debate in the Church, which has become almost totally focused on same sex marriage, means we have not championed the fundamental and core values of commitment, fidelity, openness, trust, intimacy and indeed faithfulness, both within the Church and more widely in society. This has severely weakened our contribution to the life of the nation and those conversations have suffered through the lack of our voice.

There are very differing views on this within the Church of England and across the Anglican Communion, but there is much more we hold in common. Unity in Christ is a fact, a command, a promise; not simply something we can opt in and out of as we pick and choose. We need to live with our differences, not simply listening to those who see differently but offering true
attentiveness. That was the value of the Shared Conversations, but not clearly reflected in the Report from the House of Bishops as reflected in the Synod Vote.

I have no desire to criticise my fellow Bishops and recognise the reflection, prayer and care that has been given to offering leadership and teaching in this. However, there is still a lack of pastoral understanding and care shown in public pronouncements and a lack of venturesome and creative theological reflection on the nature of relationships and the place of marriage within that.

More time does need to be given to a well-founded theology of relationship, friendship and marriage which I hope will lead in time to a full acceptance of same sex marriages in the Church of England. That will take time. However, that should not hold us back in the immediate from proper recognition through prayers, blessing, celebration and affirmation of all that is good and wholesome in a wide variety of relationships including stable, faithful, committed and God given same sex relationships.

Easter and ordinations are very much about new beginnings, born out of journeys which are often very challenging but ultimately held under God. I pray for a Church rediscovering its calling under God as herald and first fruits of God’s Kingdom lived out in that pilgrimage through the challenges of Holy Week, the defeat and desolation of Good Friday and the renewed joy and hope of resurrection we celebrate week by week, which is founded on Jesus rising to new life that first Easter Sunday.

There is also an interview with the bishop on BBC Essex which can be found via this link.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 February 2017 at 6:40pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

More responses on the Sheffield bishopric

Updated yet again on Wednesday - scroll down for new items

See our original report here.

The Archbishop of York wrote an opinion article for the Yorkshire Post this morning: John Sentamu: Your have my word – female clergy will not be undermined by new Bishop of Sheffield.

A website called Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality has appeared, and has this further roundup of news items today (Saturday).

It also has this article by Sue Hammersley Sheffield Speaking Out—What Do We Want?

…What do we want? We want to break the silence of misunderstandings.

We want to understand the process which led to Bishop Philip’s nomination, why the Vacancy in See Committee left the diocese wide open to receiving someone who would not ordain women. This was never checked out within the parishes. Was it deliberate or was it because we all assumed that there was a direction of travel within this diocese? We weren’t expecting this.

We want to understand the relationship between Bishop Philip and the many societies he represents, The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and Forward in Faith being the most relevant. How free is Bishop Philip to make up his own mind about women priests? How appropriate is it for a diocesan bishop, not a suffragan bishop, to be aligned with a group which denies the priestly orders of women?

We want a thorough review of the theology, efficacy and use of the five guiding principles which are currently being used to keep us silent.

We want to find a voice of dissent which is also a voice of love and compassion, of truth and justice and equality. We want to ask, what would Jesus do?

Thomas Matthew Sharp has written: Man from a Woman Bishop’s Rib: a Man’s Perspective on Mutual Flourishing? which discusses the general issue, apart from the Sheffield specific instance.

There is another roundup of coverage from SAME over here.

And Archbishop Cranmer (Adrian Hilton) has this: If Philip North can’t be Bishop of Sheffield, the Church of England ceases to be catholic.

This article by Alice Whalley is well worth reading: The Bishop of Sheffield and Mutual Flourishing: a Guest Blog

The Yorkshire Post has published a response by Martyn Percy to the Archbishop of York’s article: Martyn Percy: Bishop’s views mean he should decline job.
The article as published is significantly shorter than the original as written. You can read the latter version over here:Finding the Wisdom of Solomon.

The Church of England has published 5 Guiding Principles On Women And The Episcopate – A User Guide. Here’s the first part of it:

Since the ordination of women began in 1994, there have been a number of diocesan bishops who have not ordained women. Currently in the Church of England the Bishop of Chichester does not ordain women as priests, and Bishop Richard Chartres, who has just retired after twenty years’ service as Bishop of London, also did not ordain women as priests. Both those bishops have supported the vocation and ministry of women within their dioceses.

It has been established for over two decades, both within the Church of England and within the Anglican Communion that both positions, those who support the ordination and consecration of women, and those who in conscience cannot support that, are fully Anglican.

For many years the Church of England wrestled with how to accommodate this commitment to supporting both positions while also permitting the consecration of women as bishops. The Church’s first formal attempt to do this failed when the General Synod rejected the relevant legislation in November 2012.

At the second time of asking, the Church of England did pass legislation to permit the consecration of women as bishops in July 2014, after a process of reflection and dialogue to learn the lessons of its previous failure. The package that was agreed, and passed into law, in 2014, was founded on a declaration by the House of Bishops, approved by the General Synod. The declaration comprised five guiding principles, and above all a commitment to “mutual flourishing” for all traditions within the Church. That declaration forms a key part of the package which permitted the 2014 legislation, and enabled the consecration of the first women bishops (now ten, by February 2017) within the Church of England.

The declaration specifically provides that:

  • A diocesan bishop may be either a bishop who does, or who does not, ordain women;
  • A diocese may express a view, prior to a diocesan see being filled, as to whether the diocesan bishop should be someone who does or does not ordain women;
  • In every case where the diocesan bishop does not ordain women, there should be at least one bishop in the diocese who does ordain women;
  • Senior leadership roles within dioceses should continue to be filled by people from across the range of traditions.

Those provisions are part of the “mutual flourishing” that is central to the declaration and to the package. The declaration also recognises that “there will need to be sensitivity to the feelings of vulnerability that some will have that their position within the Church of England will gradually be eroded and that others will have because not everyone will receive their ministry.” It appreciates that the practical working out of these arrangements may not be easy, for the Church as a whole or for individuals.

The nomination of Bishop Philip North was made by the Crown Nominations Commission, a group comprising six representatives from the diocese itself, six from the national Church, and the two Archbishops. The process of selecting Bishop Philip was made entirely in line with the provisions of the House of Bishops declaration. His nomination for the see of Sheffield is therefore also in line with the provisions that made it possible for women to be consecrated as bishops.

The argument against Bishop Philip’s nomination is based on a rejection of the five guiding principles in the House of Bishops’ declaration. Some critics of the nomination have made clear that they do not believe in the five guiding principles. Instead, they would like to reopen the settlement made by the Church of England in July 2014 which enabled both supporters of women’s consecration, and those who opposed it, to flourish alongside each other within the Church…

The Bishop of Wakefield has issued this statement on behalf of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda:

The See of Sheffield

The Bishop of Wakefield has issued the following statement on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The Society.

We are confident that the ministry of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield will make a very significant contribution to the life and mission of the Church. We have been delighted by the welcome that his nomination has received from representatives of a wide range of traditions in the Diocese of Sheffield and in the Church of England more widely. The support expressed by many female clergy who have experience of his ministry and gifts is especially encouraging. Their response gives grounds for hope that the Five Guiding Principles and the spirit of mutual flourishing that they embody have begun to permeate through the Church of England.

We have also noted critical comments. Some of them have referred to the cards that are issued to Priests of The Society. The card merely states, ‘Fr John Smith is a Priest of The Society’, and that it is only valid while the priest holds a benefice, licence or permission to officiate in the Church of England. The cards are no different from the membership cards that are issued by many organizations. They are not available to priests who have not chosen to become Priests of The Society. We understand that the way in which the cards have been described has created a different impression, and wish to express our regret at the offence that this has caused.

In our 2015 statement ‘A Catholic Life in the Church of England’ we said: ‘We reject any so-called “theology of taint” whereby a bishop who ordains women to the episcopate or the priesthood thereby invalidates his own orders and renders invalid the orders of those whom he subsequently ordains.’ We made it clear that priests ordained by such bishops are welcomed as Priests of The Society. We are disappointed that our beliefs continue to be misrepresented.

One of the many aspects of Bishop Philip’s ministry which is exemplary is the fact that he values, and works happily with, both female and male clergy of different traditions. As bishops of The Society, we expect its clergy and people to respect all whom the Church of England has ordained and appointed to office, and to work with them in a spirit of mutual flourishing. The Five Guiding Principles, to which we are wholeheartedly committed, require this not only of the rest of the Church of England but also of us.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the House of Bishops’ Declaration as ‘a promise to love one another’. We call on all involved in the discussions that have arisen to recommit themselves to that promise, as we do ourselves.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of Lent – a season of prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal. We hope that throughout this season people will continue to pray for Bishop Philip and the people of the Diocese of Sheffield.

+TONY WAKEFIELD
The Right Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman of the Council of Bishops

There is a further news article in the Sheffield Telegraph New Sheffield bishop ‘getting on with his job’ amid objections.

And there is a further blog article, by Ian Paul titled Agreeing to disagree in Sheffield…?.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 11:15pm GMT | Comments (71) | TrackBack
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Friday, 24 February 2017

Accepting Evangelicals - Statement to the House of Bishops

From the Accepting Evangelicals website:

Do scroll down from that link and read the Modern Parable for the Church of England… which is mentioned in the statement.

Following the defeat of the ‘Take note’ motion on sexuality at General Synod last week, Accepting Evangelicals wishes to assure the House of Bishops of our prayers as you seek a way forward for the whole Church of England.

It must be said that we were disappointed by the House of Bishops’ report which was the substance for the debate. The report followed three years of ‘Shared Conversations’ which had been entered into by LGBT Christians in good faith and not insignificant courage.

Our disappointment centred around two areas:

That after such a careful and lengthy process of Shared Conversations, the voices of LGBT Christians were still not adequately voiced in the report.

That its central proposal of maintaining the status quo in terms of law, liturgy and doctrine, while seeking to allow ‘maximum freedom’ within Church Law was inadequate and flawed.

The first of these has been well articulated by the retired Bishops’ letter which preceded the debate and we would not want to add to that.

The second point however, does require the further explanation:

Very few people expected that this report would signal a rapid change in the Church of England’s Doctrine of Marriage. We understand that determining if or when this is appropriate will be a lengthy process. What was hoped for by many however, was a clear sign that the recent statements about radical welcome for LGBT people and repentance of the way they have been treated, would lead to concrete moves towards creating a liturgy of blessing of thanksgiving for those in Civil Partnerships and same-sex marriage.

Such a development would not require a change in doctrine on marriage, just as the introduction of a liturgy of thanksgiving for people who have remarried after divorce did not require a change in doctrine to exclude the understanding of marriage as a lifelong commitment.

We believe that the creation of such a liturgy is essential if LGBT people are to feel they have a place in the Church of England. The present pastoral accommodations do not give that assurance. They lead to LGBT people feeling tolerated at best, problematic at times, and ultimately unwelcome – even in many parish churches which would like to be fully welcoming of LGBT people.

As is often said, the heart of the Church of England is found and expressed in its liturgy. As long as there is no provision for the celebration of loving, committed LGBT relationships, LGBT people and especially couples, will feel that they are marginalised or excluded from the life and worship of the Church at a fundamental level – that of their relationship with a person they deeply love.

Thus, the report is both inadequate in that its proposals do not address this vital area and flawed because without movement of this kind, all positive statements by the Church of England towards LGBT people will be seen as mere empty words.

If the Church of England is genuinely serious about recognising and welcoming the faith, life and ministry of LGBT women and men, this cannot be omitted.

Our misgivings and disappointment mean we are pleased that the ‘Take note’ motion at Synod was lost last week, as we hope that this defeat will cause the House of Bishops to reconsider its approach and its leadership of the Church of England in this matter.

We also hope that the defeat of the motion will lead to a greater recognition of changing attitudes within the Church of England towards recognition of LGBT people as our sisters and brothers, made in the image of God, and not problems or issues (as the Archbishops’ letter makes clear).

Evidence of this change can be clearly seen in the opening speech by Ven. Nikki Groarke, who, as an Evangelical, spoke in support of the introduction of a pastoral liturgy for the blessing of gay couples in committed partnerships, despite her continuing concerns about marriage.

Evidence for these changing attitudes can also be found in the election of Canon Simon Butler, (also an Evangelical) as Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury even though he is openly gay with a same-sex partner.

In the light of the Shared Conversations and the debate at General Synod, we would want to endorse strongly the need for a substantial re-evaluation of the House of Bishops’ response and leadership, towards the genuine inclusion of LGBT people in the Church of England.

In conclusion, we would like to commend to the House of Bishops a modern day parable, written by one of our Trustees. We would humbly suggest that consideration of this parable and the questions it raises, should be included in the meeting of the House of Bishops in May.

We would like to assure you of our prayers for you in charting a difficult, yet vital path for the Church of England. ‘Maximum freedom’ under our current rules will not resolve the impasse. We need to find a place for our LGBT brothers and sisters in the heart of the Church of England – in its liturgy.

Elaine Sommers
Martin Stears-Handscomb

Co-Chairs of Accepting Evangelicals.

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Philip North asked to decline appointment to Sheffield

Updated again 6 pm Friday

The Guardian carries this report by Harriet Sherwood
Opponent of female priests urged to decline bishop of Sheffield post

A senior Church of England theologian has called on the newly appointed bishop of Sheffield to stand aside ahead of his consecration, saying his opposition to female priests will “cause significant pastoral and public damage to the church”.

Martyn Percy, the dean of Christ Church, Oxford, urged Philip North to either renounce his membership of the Society, a C of E organisation that rejects female priests, or decline his nomination as bishop of Sheffield, which was announced last month.

Percy claims there is a “substantial amount of resistance building up” to North’s appointment, which he says would “represent the toleration of gender-based sectarianism”.

The full press release from Modern Church is available here: Oxford theologian invites bishop-designate of Sheffield to decline nomination and is copied below the fold. Follow the link at the end of the original press release to download the full essay as a PDF.

Updates

WATCH has issued this: The Five Guiding Principles: Whose Flourishing do they serve?. Scrolling down leads to this section:

The Sheffield situation

Recently the announcement of the new Bishop of Sheffield was made. The press release made no comment about the fact that he is a bishop who cannot accept the ministry of women and will not ordain them as priests. In fact, those of us who have raised concerns that this bishop will now be presiding over a diocese where nearly a third of the clergy are women, have been told that his views on women are unimportant. Worse, we have been consistently told that this is a working out of the five guiding principles; mutual flourishment in practice.

So the question is, how is his appointment to a diocese, where nearly third of the incumbents are women, promoting mutual flourishing? For twenty years this has been a diocese in which women are ordained. These women have up until this point simply been priests in the diocese, regardless of gender. Now they are women priests. The incoming Bishop reassures them that he will work to the utmost limits of his theological position where they are concerned but, this is little comfort to those who are used to being treated in the same way as their male colleagues; as those whose priesthood their bishop truly recognises.

The women of the diocese were not asked how this would help them flourish. Neither of the Archbishops has offered any kind of support to them as they deal with the sense of hurt and disillusionment as, yet again, the Church of England expects women to be the ones who accept discrimination in the name of theological conviction.

The House of Bishops Declaration, which lays out clear guidelines for the provision necessary for those who cannot accept the ministry of a woman bishop, has nothing coherent to say to the women clergy of Sheffield diocese as they struggle to come to terms with the prospect of a Bishop who cannot fully accept their ministry. It seems that the hierarchy of the church has deep pastoral concerns for those who cannot accept the ministry of women and no real pastoral care for women who find their ministry fundamentally undermined by the theological views of the one with whom they are to share a cure of souls.

There is no provision for the male clergy who are deeply committed to a church in which men and women minister as equals. No provision for the lay members of the diocese who value the ministry of women clergy. Those many, many clergy and laity in the diocese who are theologically committed to the full inclusion of women in the church will no longer have a diocesan bishop who shares their theological conviction…

The Church of England has issued this: Statement on Bishop Philip North

In response to an enquiry from the Guardian on 23 February 2017 on an article concerning Bishop Philip North the Church of England’s Communication office provided the following response:

“Many if not all of Martyn Percy’s arguments were raised and presented during and before the General Synod debates on this issue in 2014. In supporting the ordination of Women as Bishops the Synod overwhelmingly rejected these arguments and favoured a position of mutual flourishing for all in the Church.

As Martyn Percy’s article makes clear Bishop Philip has stated in a meeting to women clergy in the diocese that he is favour of women’s leadership and would actively promote it.

The beauty of the Church of England is its theological breadth and its ability to hold together disparate views across a range of issues whilst still finding unity in Jesus Christ.

The Church of England supports all orders of ministry being open equally, irrespective of gender, and remains committed to enabling all people to flourish within its life and structures.”

Oxford theologian invites bishop-designate of Sheffield to decline nomination

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has invited the Bishop-designate of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Philip North, to decline his nomination to the See because of his opposition to women’s ordination.

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy has made a case against the elevation of the Rt Revd Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, in an article published on the website of Modern Church, a society promoting liberal Christianity, of which he is a Vice President.

Professor Percy argues in the article ‘Questions of Ambiguity and Integrity?’ that the logic of Bishop North’s theological position makes it impossible for him to affirm and receive the ordained ministry of all his female clergy. Moreover, the same would apply to any male ordained by a female bishop. Women account for around one-third of the clergy of Sheffield diocese.

Commenting on this, Martyn Percy observed that:

the ratio of male clergy to female clergy in Sheffield Diocese is 2:1. In a Diocese like Chichester it is more like 10:1. A non-ordaining Bishop in Sheffield Diocese is a serious matter for the female clergy, who are present in very large numbers. This will feel like a step backwards for many parishes and clergy, as the full acceptance of women clergy was patiently established under the ministry of Bishop David Lunn, who had begun his episcopacy as a leading opponent of the ordination of women. His acceptance of women clergy is a defining moment in the life of the Diocese. The Crown Nominations Commission has shown a marked insensitivity to this history in nominating Bishop North to the See of Sheffield. The initiatives that were developed to accommodate conscientious objectors in the Church of England were simply not designed to be implemented against Dioceses such as Sheffield.

Sheffield, as a City and Diocese, has a proud record in relation to issues of justice and equality. Percy believes the inevitable inequality that would be introduced through Bishop North accepting the nomination to the See would have profound and disturbing ramifications for the public witness of the church in the region, and for the pastoral oversight of its female clergy across the Diocese. He adds:

Sheffield is a go-ahead, vibrant, progressive city, with cutting-edge universities and research-led industries. It is thoroughly modern. The public will neither comprehend nor welcome this rather fogeyish sacralised sexism of the religious organisation known simply as ‘The Society’, whose Council of Bishops includes Bishop Philip North.

Percy is particularly concerned with a proposal from The Society to issue ‘identity cards’ to the priests of his organisation in the near future, in order to guarantee their sacramental purity. This proposal would, in effect, says Professor Percy, amount to clergy listing their ‘(male) ontological genealogy’:

…travel forward, if you will, a century from now. Those identity cards…will need to show that the bishop who ordained you, was, in turn, ordained by someone pure and efficacious, and in turn, was ordained likewise - stretching all the way back to our present time.

The proposal endorses clergy having to demonstrate an unbroken chain of ‘ontological purity’, via a ‘taint free’ litany of bishops.Percy writes:

As bishops turn over every ten years or so, the genealogy will eventually be longer than the one we have for Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

He added that he

could not envisage a Diocesan Bishop functioning well who is also an ambassador for gender-based discrimination, and an advocate of inequality. The women clergy are already in a state of grief about the appointment, moving through the early phases of shock, anger and denial. But bargaining and acceptance are unlikely to be options. Their situation is profoundly unjust.

Professor Percy’s article discusses the principle of integrity - a key issue enshrined in the Church of England’s attempts to find a way forward, together, for groups holding irreconcilable positions within the church (The Five Guiding Principle of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, June 2014, which are not enshrined in law.)

Professor Percy calls upon Bishop North to clarify his position on women clergy, and men ordained by female bishops. He says the issues cannot be ‘fudged’ through an over-investment in ambiguity, as ‘fudging’ lacks iintegrity, and ambiguity destroys authority:

if these differences can’t be resolved, then the virtue and practice of integrity suggests some new paths: acquiescence or withdrawal. Either the bishop has to step aside and step down from exercising episcopal ministry at this level and in this context, or the men and women have to resign, as their own bishop does not recognise and affirm their sacramental efficacy.

Professor Percy adds:

Bishops have a paternal and maternal relationship to their clergy and parishes. As a ‘Father in God’, Bishop North needs to be able to give his unequivocal support and affirmation to his male and female clergy alike. It can’t be a partial and conditional affirmation, based on gender. You can’t have a pastoral situation in which the Bishop effectively says to his clergy ‘I will love, support and affirm you all; but not all of you equally’. Such a statement would amount to the most awful parenting. In more Patriarchal terms, Bishop North’s stance on women is of a similar sort to the discrimination that Abraham showed to Isaac and Ishmael in the book of Genesis. Bishop North’s stance imputes ‘doubtful parentage’ on his women clergy - that their ‘ontological heritage’ is invalid.

Professor Percy continues,

Such a witness would lead to a dysfunctional episcopacy and an unhappy Diocese. Family breakdown will be inevitable. This cannot lead to ‘mutual flourishing’. Bishop North’s appointment would represent the toleration of gender-based sectarianism, and will ultimately cause significant pastoral and public damage to the church.

Professor Percy concludes, that

“the Church of England has always embraced a wide range of beliefs and practices. But it has begun to discover in debates on sexuality, and on gender, that if you truly want to be one church, you can only ultimately afford one integrity”.

Click here to read and download the full 3000 word essay, Questions of Ambiguity and Integrity, by Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy.

ENDS

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Voting on House of Bishops' report

The detailed voting lists for the electronic votes at last week’s meeting of the General Synod have been released. The list for the take note motion on the House of Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations is here.

Readers may be particularly interested in the voting in the House of Bishops which I have shown in the table below.

The bishops voted 43 in favour and one against with no recorded abstentions. The Bishop of Coventry (the only vote against) has said that he pressed the wrong button on his voting machine and intended to vote in favour. The Bishop of Southwark has said that he intended to record an abstention but failed to do so.

There are 53 places in the House of Bishops (42 diocesan bishops, the Bishop of Dover, the Bishop to the Forces and nine elected suffragan bishops). Two diocesan sees were vacant on the day of the vote. So, in addition to Southwark, six bishops were absent from the vote. If any readers know for certain the reason for any of the absences, please let us know via the comments.

Electronic voting results for Item 14
Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 2055):
‘That the Synod do take note of this report.’

Voting in the House of Bishops
 seenamevote
1 Canterbury Justin Welby for
2 York John Sentamu for
3 London Richard Chartres absent
4 Durham Paul Butler for
5 Winchester Tim Dakin for
6 Bath & Wells Peter Hancock for
7 Birmingham David Urquhart absent
8 Blackburn Julian Henderson for
9 Bristol Michael Hill absent
10 Carlisle James Newcome for
11 Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell for
12 Chester Peter Forster for
13 Chichester Martin Warner for
14 Coventry Christopher Cocksworth against - by mistake
15 Derby Alastair Redfern for
16 Ely Stephen Conway for
17 Gibraltar in Europe Robert Innes for
18 Exeter Robert Atwell for
19 Gloucester Rachel Treweek for
20 Guildford Andrew Watson absent
21 Hereford Richard Frith for
22 Leeds Nicholas Baines for
23 Leicester Martyn Snow for
24 Lichfield Michael Ipgrave for
25 Lincoln Christopher Lowson for
26 Liverpool Paul Bayes for
27 Manchester David Walker for
28 Newcastle Christine Hardman for
29 Norwich Graham James for
30 Oxford Steven Croft for
31 Peterborough Donald Allister for
32 Portsmouth Christopher Foster for
33 Rochester James Langstaff absent
34 St Albans Alan Smith for
35 St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Martin Seeley for
36 Salisbury Nicholas Holtam for
37 Sheffield vacant see vacant
38 Sodor & Man vacant see vacant
39 Southwark Christopher Chessun absent - but intended to abstain
40 Southwell & Nottingham Paul Williams for
41 Truro Timothy Thornton for
42 Worcester John Inge for
43 Dover Trevor Willmott for
44 Forces Nigel Stock for
45 Fulham Jonathan Baker for
46 Willesden Peter Broadbent for
47 Southampton Jonathan Frost for
48 Ludlow Alistair Magowan for
49 Lynn Jonathan Meyrick for
50 Warrington Richard Blackburn absent
51 Huddersfield Jonathan Gibbs for
52 Stockport Elizabeth Lane for
53 Beverley Glyn Webster for
Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 7:01pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Radical Inclusion: two bishops write about this

The Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes has written this: Bishop Paul pledges to examine how we explore “Radical Inclusion” in our diocese

…The debate gave me the opportunity to speak to Synod and my speech is copied below. You will see that I commit myself to explore to the maximum the freedom under the Church’s current law and guidance to offer rich and meaningful ministry to LGBTI+ people (see footnote), as indeed I have tried to do since I came to Liverpool.

I have no doubt that our further steps and conversations nationally will include LGBTI+ Christians more fully than the recent report was able to do. In my speech I use the phrase “maximum freedom”, which is a phrase much used in the report. Since the report did not command the confidence of the Synod I do not propose to use that phrase now. Instead I use the phrase at the head of this bulletin, a phrase used by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their letter written after the debate: “we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church”

The Bishop of Manchester David Walker has written: Being Radical about Radical Inclusion

…Times of change are by their nature times of paradox. To be purposefully paradoxical is to recognise that whilst consistency may be a feature of the endpoints of a journey it is rarely present all along the way. What nineteenth century physics found to be true for the trajectories of photons passing through a pair of narrow slits, twenty-first century theology must allow to be the case for a church traversing through a time of challenge and change. Some aspects of change will get ahead of others. Some parts of the church may move faster, further, or at a different angle than their neighbours. Messy Church won’t just describe a brand of work with children. In many ways we will be more like the pluriform Church of the New Testament, marvelously malleable under the hand of the Holy Spirit…

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Archbishops' letter - responses and press reports

OneBodyOneFaith Archbishops’ bold proposal for radical inclusion

OneBodyOneFaith welcomes the Church of England Archbishops’ bold proposal for a new and inclusive process following defeat of GS2055

In response to the joint letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York released today, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of OneBodyOneFaith said, “The joint letter from both Archbishops to Church of England synod members is a bold and welcome response to address the disjunction between the House of Bishops and Houses of Clergy and Laity in their understanding of and response to human sexuality. We applaud the tone set by Archbishop Justin as he seeks ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’ and his affirmation that, ‘no person is a problem or an issue [because] people are made in the image of God.’ In this we find echoed our own vision, longing for Christ’s body to be one, finding unity in a diversity which includes all whom Christ has called, that they might participate in God’s mission, leading to transformation for our world.”

“For Bishops to consult with local synod representatives in how to establish a way forward on human sexuality that is ‘about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity’ will indeed be a significant change. We note with satisfaction the intention that the Pastoral Oversight group and the group that work on the large scale teaching document that will provide for ‘good, healthy flourishing relationships’ reflecting a ‘21st Century understanding of being human and being sexual’ will be ‘fully inclusive’. We take ‘fully inclusive’ in this context to mean that in both groups will be represented those who would affirm OneBodyOneFaith’s statement of conviction:

‘that human sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity in all their richness are gifts of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.’

And that:

‘it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship; We believe that expressing our gender and sexuality with integrity is important as a way to grow in love and discipleship.’

”The Archbishops have set an ambitious task for members of the Church of England; they are right to recognise its urgency. A process involving lay, presbyteral and episcopal members of synod will be far more representative. OneBodyOneFaith reminds the Archbishops that the homophobia long present in the Church of England has skewed its population and that this needs to be taken into account in Diocesan consultations, in the development of pastoral practices, and in formulating the wide ranging and inclusive new teaching document on human sexuality.

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of OneBodyOneFaith explained, “Care needs to be taken that a process which focusses on synod members will represent and reflect the interests of the whole of the Church of England and is mindful of the needs of the nation. To that end, this process needs to involve Anglicans who are not part of synod. The process needs to allow each participant to speak without fear for their own safety or fear of recrimination. OneBodyOneFaith stands ready to resource the Church of England as it embarks on this process of embodying more deeply the radical and transforming love shown by God in Christ which is for all.”

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England bishops seek to repair divisions over same-sex relationships

Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls for ‘radical’ steps by Church

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

General Synod - day 4 - Thursday 16 February

updated Friday

order paper for the day

Official press release: Culture change for seven days a week faith welcomed by General Synod

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February Group of Sessions 2017: Thursday

The text of Gavin Oldham’s motion is not included in the summary; as amended and passed by Synod it was:

That this Synod, considering the ratio of time and money spent in administration to that spent in mission to be too high throughout the Church of England, and noting the very effective facilities provided for parish statistics collection and clergy payroll:
(a) confirm that the principle of subsidiarity should not be applied to purely administrative functions; and
(b) request the Archbishops’ Council to develop its current work with dioceses to identify opportunities for nationally provided administrative services which would both release a larger proportion of resources for local growth and mission initiatives and generate economies for the whole Church.

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Synod Turns to Mission

Anglican Communion News Service No easy solution to same-sex marriage issue, secretary general tells C of E Synod

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Archbishops write to General Synod members

Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York following General Synod
16 February 2017

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to members of the General Synod setting out the next steps following the vote on General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations.

The letter can be found here.

The full text can be read below:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Following the vote in General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations (GS 2055) we are writing to set out the way forward in the next few months.

First, we want to be clear about some underlying principles. In these discussions no person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people called to redeemed humanity in Christ.

How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the debate - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.

To deal with that disagreement and to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.

The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.

Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.

We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.

As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.

Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.

We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm.

In the meantime, we commend to your prayers our common concern for every member of this church, of all views, and most especially our concern for the mission of God to which we are called by the Father, for which we are made ready by the Son, and in which we are equipped by the Holy Spirit.

+ Justin Cantuar:        +Sentamu Eboracensis

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 16 February 2017 at 8:43pm GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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Responses to yesterday's vote

Updated Friday

Press reports are listed here.

Inclusive Church

Take Note Debate Voted Down

Inclusive Church in partnership with the General Synod Human Sexuality Group shares this press release in response to the General Synod vote in February 2017.

“We are pleased and relieved that General Synod have heard our concerns, and voted NOT to Take Note. This means that we can now look at new ways of working together to produce a fresh approach to how we embrace and celebrate the lives and loves of LGBTI people. We hope that the Church of England will now be more honest about the diversity of views that are sincerely held on this issue, so that we can look at how we might best present an inclusive vision of the Body of Christ to the nation.

We are particularly grateful that both the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflections Group (the Rt Revd Graham James and the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent) have acknowledged and apologised for the pain that this report had caused so many of us.”

Jayne Ozanne and Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group

Alan Wilson Back to the Holy Drawing Board, with some relief

For a body as conventionally set up as the Church of England General Synod, all its structures loaded to express deference, yesterday’s result was something of a shock to the system.

Many episcopal colleagues could feel disappointed that the clergy did not buy a report that had already been announced to the rest of the Communion from the top as Church policy, before it had even been to synod.

This kind of bloody nose may stir memories of the Anglican Covenant project — another disastrous and ecclesiologically inept attempt to make doctrine through lawyers that backfired.

But every failure brings opportunity…

We now have a chance to following up the Shared Conversations, which were generally good and constructive, properly…

OneBodyOneFaith

Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation…

Modern Church responds to Synod vote on sexuality and marriage

Modern Church welcomes the result of the vote in General Synod this week not to ‘take note’ of the House of Bishops report on Marriage and Same Sex Partnerships after the Shared Conversations.

By rejecting the motion to take note of this report, the General Synod has sent the Bishops back to the drawing board.

Most telling among the many reflections leading up to and during this landmark debate were these:

  • the House of Bishops was attempting to manage the situation rather than leading.
  • the ‘roadmap’ their report offered was not a route toward ‘good disagreement’ for those putting the case for inclusion.
  • the bishops had not adequaltey heard the lived experience of LGBT+ people in the church, their families, friends and supporters, and had not catered for their aspirations for equality.
  • the report did not take account of different theological and biblical perspectives.

We are but a few years on from the defeat of the Anglican Covenant by the English Dioceses and the General Synod. This second major defeat can mean only one thing - it is time for the House of Bishops to bring forward legislation which will enable all LGBT+ Christians, whether single, in a civil partnership or married, to be treated with equality in the life of the church.

What might this look like?

Modern Church also welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement calling for:

a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church… founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology… based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and… a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We look forward to continuing to work to support the excellent and active work of LGBTI Mission, Inclusive Church and One Body One Faith, as they work with the whole church and with the Bishops to discern the way ahead.

Listening to the Synod debate, some of the parameters of a new settlement seem to be clear:

  • An authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships (civil partnerships and civil marriages).
  • The end of intrusive questioning for those in or aspiring to ministry who are in a civil partnership or are married to someone of the same gender.
  • A ‘mixed economy’ whereby no minister is expected or compelled to act beyond the limits of their own or their congregation’s conscience.

Anything short of this will not do. The road may be yet long but the destination is now in sight and it is time for the Bishops to offer a map to get us there.

Ian Paul Psephizo On Synod, sexuality, and not ‘Taking note’

Gafcon UK GAFCON UK responds to the Synod vote, and offers a new vision for faithful Anglicanism

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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury following today’s General Synod

Wednesday 15th February 2017

Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby following the General Synod’s vote “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships.

“No person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no ‘problems’, there are simply people.

How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the Church of England’s General Synod debate on marriage and same-sex relationships today - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.

To deal with that disagreement, to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.

We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.

The vote today is not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said this afternoon.

The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 10:17pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Debate on the Bishops' report - take note motion defeated

Updated Thursday
Scroll down for press reports.

This afternoon General Synod debated Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: a report from the House of Bishops (GS 2055).

The motion “That the Synod do take note of this report” was defeated.

Voting was by houses, and the motion was lost in the House of Clergy.

 for  against  abstentions
bishops  4310
clergy931002
laity106834

Official press release following the vote:

Result of the vote on the House of Bishops’ Report
15 February 2017

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops following a debate on the report earlier today on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships.

A take note debate is a neutral motion which allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in a report without committing the Synod to the formal acceptance of any matter.

The vote required simple majorities in each of the three Synodical Houses. A total of 242 people voted in favour of the report 184 against and 6 abstentions - with a majority of Synod members voting to “take note” of the report. However the report failed to obtain a simple majority in the House of Clergy.

The House of Bishops voted 43 in favour and 1 against.

The House of Clergy voted 93 in favour and 100 against with 2 abstentions.

The House of Laity voted 106 in favour and 83 against with 4 abstentions.

With the take note motion now rejected, the Bishops of the Church of England will reflect on the views expressed at the General Synod. The diversity of opinion and strong views expressed, will need to be taken account by the Bishops in their consideration of the discussion going forward.

Responding to the vote, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich said:

“I can guarantee that the House of Bishops will consider carefully and prayerfully all the contributions made in the debate today.

“When reports come to the General Synod they often come at the end of a process and contain recommendations. This wasn’t that sort of report. The Bishops came to this debate committed to listen. Our report did not bring proposals, it brought a framework and a request for Synod to tell us what they thought. We have listened to those who have spoken, and those others who have made contributions to us directly. Our ongoing discussions will be informed by what members of Synod and the wider church have said as a result of this report.”

Introducing the debate on behalf of the House of Bishops, the Bishop of Norwich said that the report did not make formal proposals but was rather suggesting frameworks where areas needed attention: “The point of a take note debate is that it enables other voices to be heard, including those who believe the framework for further consideration is mistaken or wrongly constructed and needs modification. It is not a vote for approval but an invitation to comment and engage, and the House is listening.”

Setting out the difficulties facing both the House of Bishops and the wider Church in considering the report the Bishop of Norwich said: “There is no simple and easy answer to this issue beyond committing ourselves to engagement with each other when the views on what we should do are profoundly contested.”

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt. Revd. Pete Broadbent said:

“As I said at the launch of the Report such a debate is on a neutral motion. It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report. The Synod has declined to take note and so the report in its present form cannot come back to Synod for discussion, though we will still have to find a way forward for the wider discussion.

“We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven’t coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven’t even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops’ Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don’t yet know the next stage - nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod.”

Voting and The House of Bishops Report by a Church of England spokesperson

Press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod rebuff for Bishops’ report on sexuality

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Anglicans come a step closer to gay marriages in church after vote rejects controversial report
[originally headlined “Church of England votes to reject controversial gay marriage report which said union should be between a man and a woman”]
Church of England gay marriage vote thrown into chaos after members ‘get confused and press wrong button’
[This article has been rewritten; the original was published under the headline “Church of England votes for gay marriage after bishop presses wrong button”.]

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England in turmoil as synod rejects report on same sex relationships
Bishop apologises for accidentally pressing wrong button in vote

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church No Winners

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England’s report on marriage and sexuality suffers setback at Synod

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod rejects bishops’ sexuality report

BBC News Church of England votes against gay marriage report
Church of England’s rejection of gay marriage report welcomed

Harry Farley Christian Today Church Of England’s Clergy Issue Shock Rebuke To Bishops’ Conservative View On Sexuality

ITV News Church of England votes against same-sex marriage report

Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England one step closer to gay marriages in church: Vote against bishops’ report that supported ban is hailed as a victory by liberal clergy

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 7:07pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Half of Anglicans believe there is nothing wrong with same sex relationships

NatCen Social Research have released these survey results today.

Half of Anglicans believe there is nothing wrong with same sex relationships
15 February 2017

Ahead of the Church of England General Synod’s debate on the issue of gay marriage on Wednesday, new data reveals that 50% of Anglicans believe that same sex relationships are “not wrong at all”.

The findings, which come from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey, show that Anglican opinions towards same sex relationships have been softening over time but acceptance is highest (73%) among those with no religion. The lowest levels of acceptance of same sex relationships come from those belonging to non-Christian religions: 31% of this group say that these relationships are not wrong at all.

Meanwhile, 17% of Anglicans think that same sex relationships are “always wrong”, the lowest level since records began in 1983 when 50% were of this view. In 2015 6% of those with no religion felt this way…

The summary continues at the link above. The data tables are also available.

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Alternative case studies

As an alternative to the official studies being looked at by Synod members this afternoon OneBodyOneFaith offer their own case studies, this time involving bishops.

1. Chris is a bishop in a mainly rural Northern diocese. He realised he was gay in his teens, when others were becoming keen on girls and he wasn’t. He never said anything to anybody, and has never had more than close friendships with those men whom he has taken a fancy to. It seems to him that it would be impossible for him to come out now, after so many years, for two main reasons: although he has never lied about his sexuality (in fact he has never said anything at all to colleagues or in job interviews), he feels his reputation as an honest and caring bishop, in a part of the country where straight-talking people seem to him likely to become more wary if they knew he was gay, would be felled at a stroke if he spoke up now. And he is the only child of his elderly and frail mother, whom he believes would be utterly shattered by such a revelation.

Chris supported the House of Bishops Report because he believes strongly in the collective responsibility of the bishops, and, to be completely honest, because ‘no change’ means that he does not have to make any decision about whether to come out at this point.

2. Daniel is a young, single bishop. He thinks he may be bisexual, as he has found himself in close relationships with women and men, though he has only had sex with one woman: he thought he might marry her but it didn’t work out. He has great sympathy with those campaigning for LGBTI inclusion, but dare not come out for fear that his colleagues will think less of him - especially his Archbishop, who does not know anything of his past relationships. He is troubled that the Report makes no mention at all of BTI people - but did not raise this in the brief discussion that was allowed.

Daniel supported the House of Bishops Report as a way of bolstering his own membership of the College of Bishops, which he hopes will enhance his credibility in future discussions. He feels uncomfortable that he is not ready to be the one to speak up against what he considers a weak and rather cowardly report, focusing on the difficulties for the bishops themselves.

3. Jerome is an evangelical bishop. His roots were in the conservative wing, but since his daughter-in-law’s brother came out as gay he has been less convinced that their approach is the right one in the sight of God. He can now see that scripture can be interpreted in more than one way, but still cannot work out how to get ‘past’ the prohibitions in Leviticus and Romans. He carries a great deal of weight in evangelical circles, and is keenly aware of the consequences if he were to declare a change of mind. Others would feel betrayed by him, and he would damage some people’s faith in Christ: a risk he is not prepared to take.

Jerome supported the House of Bishops Report because, although flawed, it represents the best way forward for evangelicals at the moment, and he sincerely hopes it will not distract from the wider mission of the church.

4. Dawn, with her female episcopal colleagues, is new to the College of Bishops. She is still learning the ropes of how things work - or don’t - in practice, and is puzzled and frustrated by how little time there is for real discussion and listening. She is married to a man, and has always seen marriage as a gift from God to be treasured. She would love to whole-heartedly support extending that to couples of the same sex, but is not convinced of the scriptural support for that and therefore could not commend it to the people she serves in her diocese. A large part of her hopes that in time she will be so convinced. She is also very conscious of the tension between feeling a responsibility, as a woman, to support other oppressed groups, and needing to ‘join in’ with the current culture in order to be taken seriously.

Dawn was not happy with the Report but supported it as the best compromise that could be rushed through.

5. Findlay (married, 3 teenage children) is aware of a number of gay and lesbian clergy in his diocese, some of whom are in partnerships, and he does his best to support them discretely. He is deeply troubled by the seeming inability of the House of Bishops as a body to act graciously and purposefully towards such people in such relationships. His diocese is perceived as more ‘liberal’ than some, but he has received considerable correspondence urging him to hold the line on marriage ‘as God has defined it’. Some of the letters have been fierce, unpleasant and have threatened his soul with damnation, but he knows that each writer is trying to be faithful and so tries to hold them in his prayers as compassionately as he can. But he wonders what to do with his considerable anger. He is also concerned not to impose his suggestions for progress towards full inclusion of LGBTI people as a white, straight man.

Findlay supported the Report with a heavy heart and after speaking up against its paucity and flawed logic - how can the mean-spirited tone of such a report invite and expect a change of tone across the church?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 12:40pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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The Bishops’ Report and Scripture: A Missed Opportunity

We are pleased to publish this article from The Revd Dr Jennifer Strawbridge.

The Bishops’ Report and Scripture: A Missed Opportunity
Jennifer Strawbridge (Associate Professor of New Testament Studies & Caird Fellow in Theology, University of Oxford)

Proof-texting of Scripture is all too common in discussions of human sexuality, but its theological worth is rather limited. The more so, when it is done incorrectly. This is not what the recent publication by the House of Bishops – Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations – has done. In fact, this document makes explicit reference to Scripture only 5 times across its 19 pages of text. However, one of the Pauline passages used to introduce this report is based on an unfortunate misunderstanding of the Apostle. While this misunderstanding does not ultimately affect the content of the report, it does cast a shadow over what follows and represents a missed opportunity for how Scripture can be engaged in such conversations.

The first paragraph of the report states, “As St Paul writes, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…’ (Galatians 2.19ff). For St Paul that meant setting aside even the wonderful privilege of Jewish identity and giving priority to the cross and resurrection of Christ. It is in this light that the Church of England has to consider the difficulties over human sexuality that have been a source of tension and division for many years.”

What this introduction misunderstands and misses is twofold. Firstly, in both his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is a Jew and identifies clearly as a Jew in the present tense. To state that Paul is “setting aside” his “Jewish identity” misunderstands Paul. Second, such misunderstanding in the very first paragraph means the report misses the nuance of Paul’s writings and the reality that he too is grappling with “tension and division” both within his communities and in terms of his own identity. To recognise such a nuance would make clear that questions of identity are not as simple as this report’s introduction suggests and that identity with Christ is not as simple as “setting aside” one’s identity at birth (which itself is a loaded and potentially harmful assumption in a report on sexuality and identity).

In Philippians 3.4-6, therefore, Paul writes that in terms of confidence “in the flesh”, he has more for he is: “a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews.” Even if these “gains” are now regarded by Paul “as loss because of Christ” (Phil 3.7) and as “rubbish” (3.8), Paul’s Jewish identity is not solely in his past. This is made clearer in Romans 11.1 where Paul states in his defence of God’s promises that “I myself am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul’s testimony before the tribunal in Acts 21 is even more direct, demonstrating unambiguously what the Evangelist thinks of Paul’s identity. Paul begins his defence with the words, “I am a Jew” and then repeats this same claim “in the Hebrew language” in Acts 22 (“I am a Jew”) after which he immediately recounts in the past tense that he previously “persecuted this Way”. Moreover, returning to his letters, Paul counters Corinthian boasting with his own in 2 Corinthians 11.22: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? … I am a better one.”

And here we encounter first-hand the tension in Paul’s identity. Paul is still a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, in other words, he is a Jew. But he is also a minister of Christ; he is also one who suffers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s identity is inextricably wrapped up in both.

Furthermore, such tensions can be perceived not only in Paul’s own identity, but also in how he understands the spread of his gospel. Paul over and over again, as “apostle to the Gentiles”, gives priority to the Jews even though he is clear many of them do not recognise Christ as Messiah. In Romans 1.16, he observes that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” And in Romans 2.9-10, Paul writes that God’s judgement and God’s glory fall on “the Jew first and also the Greek” for “God shows no partiality.” In fact, “both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin” (Rom 3.9), “for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to those who call on him” (Rom 10.12). This, of course, doesn’t mean that nothing happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 26) or when Christ is revealed to him (1 Cor 15.8; Gal 1.15-17). Neither does it mean that Paul’s language about Jew and Gentile leads to a vision of humanity as “one overcooked stew where all the ingredients taste the same” as Beverly Gaventa clarifies. For “Paul recognizes distinct histories of Jews and Gentiles” (Gaventa 2014, 103). But noting only the division in Paul’s life, as the start of the Bishops’ Report does, is a problem and misses the nuance and the gift of Paul’s wrestling with identity. Paul clearly remains a Jew. Paul clearly identifies himself as Jewish. But Paul has also reconceived who the people of God are after his encounter with the risen Lord. And this is the dimension of Paul’s identity struggles which might be fruitfully engaged by the Bishops’ Report.

Paul’s own words preclude the simple statement that he has set aside his Jewish identity for Christ. Rather, we must see that Paul is trying very hard (and we must acknowledge that he is not always consistent across his letters) to hold together his Jewish identity with the reality that he has, indeed, “been crucified with Christ” and Christ now lives in and defines his life. This tension leads to questions that dominate the Pauline writings: how then do Jew and Gentile relate? What happens to the Law? Does this mean God has broken God’s promises with Israel? And most importantly for this Report: How does Paul hold together the tension that one dies “to the law through the body of Christ” (Rom 7.4) while at the same time claiming in almost the same breath that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good” (Rom 7.12)? How can Paul identify himself both by Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6.5; Phil 3.10-11) and as a Hebrew, Israelite, and Jew?

This grappling with understanding of law and of identity that we find clearly in Paul’s letters is evident throughout the Bishops’ Report, phrased explicitly in the stated framework: “Interpreting the existing law and guidance to permit maximum freedom within it, without changes to the law, or the doctrine of the Church” (§1.22). However, by beginning with a misunderstanding of Paul and his identity, this report misses a great opportunity to draw on Paul’s own struggles in a document that is clearly trying to balance both the obvious and the not-so-evident struggles within our Church. Instead, this report has given us a new scriptural text to add to the ever-growing list of those proof-texted, intentionally or not, for the purposes of debate concerning human sexuality. More significantly, the Bishops’ Report divides doctrine from pastoral practice and misses both the chance to wrestle with the “tension and division” inherent in Paul’s mission and the opportunity to ground a statement on human sexuality in theology and more than that, in the depths of holy Scripture.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 February 2017 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

General Synod - day 3 - Wednesday 15 February

Updated during the day and on Thursday

See here for the debate on the Bishops’ report.

Late on Tuesday, Synod agreed to changes to Wednesday’s agenda to allow more time for the debate on the Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships. This will now start at 4.45 pm (instead of 5.30 pm) with the same finishing time of 7.00 pm.

Order paper for the morning session
Order paper for the afternoon session

OneBodyOneFaith have published the case studies to be used in the private group work that Synod members are invited to attend: Church of England Synod - GS2055 case studies.

Before lunch the Bishops of Norwich and Willesden gave presentations in anticipation of the afternoon’s business. The full text of the presentations are available:
The Bishop of Norwich
The Bishop of Willesden

Official press releases
New See to support multi-cultural communities in Leicestershire
General Synod calls on Government to lower maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
Presentations from the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop of Willesden

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February Group of Sessions 2017: Wednesday

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Synod Attracts Protests

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at 9:51pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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WATCH launches Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry 2016

Women and the Church (WATCH) launched its annual report on “Developments in Women’s Ministry 2016” at a fringe event at the General Synod today.

Read the report by clicking HERE.

From the press release:

Speaking at the event the newly elected Chair of WATCH, Revd. Canon Emma Percy said “The WATCH report clearly shows that whilst much has been achieved there is still a significant way to travel before women have any degree of equality in the church.

Yes we have women priests and bishops but recent appointments have shown that there continues to be a high disparity between the opportunity and prospects of male and female clergy.

From the latest available figures whilst roughly equal numbers of men and women are ordained, only 27% are currently vicars or in more senior roles.

Women continue to be under-represented at senior levels within dioceses with 13 dioceses having no ex-officio women in Bishop’s senior staff and a further 22 that only have one women.

In 2016, ten people were made bishops but only three of these were women and sadly not one of them was appointed to be a Diocesan Bishop.

Today we publish a table showing the percentage of women in incumbent level appointments by diocese. With an average of only 24% of women incumbents across all the dioceses, many fall well short even of this low percentage.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at 4:14pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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New publications in anticipation of tomorrow's debate on the bishops' report

There are two new publications in anticipation of tomorrow’s debate on the Bishops’ report on sexuality.

1. This Open Letter from Open Evangelicals to the Evangelical Group on General Synod has been published today.

On February 2nd 2017 five “open evangelical” members of EGGS (the Evangelical Group on General Synod) wrote to the whole EGGS membership, urging them to reflect and repent on three core issues relating to the “sexuality debate”.

They also asked three key questions which they felt the evangelical community needed to respond to.

Other evangelicals on Synod had also wished to sign the letter, but were unable to as they had not felt able to become members of EGGS due to its hard line on certain issues. It was therefore released for open signature by all evangelicals following the meeting.

The three questions are:

  • What is God’s “Good News” for LGBT people?
  • How do we respond to the mounting scientific evidence that sexuality is neither chosen nor changeable, and that gender is non-binary?
  • How do we deal with the reality of an increasing number of LGBT married couples with children who wish to worship in our churches?

2. OneBodyOneFaith (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement) have published A time to build in which they seek

  • For an explicit acceptance of the integrity of theological diversity over matters of sexuality – that it is possible to be Biblically faithful and hold different positions – and the creation of systems to assure that this is honoured. The establishment of a Sexuality and Relationships Working Group which will be responsible for ‘holding’ the theological diversity of the Church of England. Pilling has already described the different positions –the reference group needs to be tasked with exploring how they live with each other, and how the church develops theologically, and how pastoral oversight is given in the context of the range of views present in the Church of England.
  • In addition to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group there needs to be a significant level of LGBTI+ representation on each of its boards, councils and divisions for which the Archbishops’ council has oversight – the representatives should be chosen by members of all houses of Synod, not by the Archbishops’ Council or bishops alone
  • For the Church of England to appoint a National Lead for LGBTI+ matters based at Church House – LGBTI+ themselves, who works to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group and liaises with boards, councils, divisions and dioceses, holds to the need for the kind of change that we propose, but also understands and accepts the need to support all sides
  • For the publication and recommendation of an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples after a Civil Partnership or Civil Marriage - this does not need to be complicated. The Service of Prayer and Thanksgiving after a civil marriage could be adjusted very simply
  • To effect paragraph 13 (a) of Annex 1: Sexuality Issues: what is and is not possible under the relevant legal positions, so that being married to a person of the same sex is not of itself a breach of Canon C26.2
Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at 3:50pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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General Synod - day 2 - Tuesday 14 February

Updated during the day and on Wednesday

Order paper for the day

The following private member’s motion, proposed by Stephen Trott, was defeated.

That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1977, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.

Voting was by houses, and the motion was lost in all three.

 for  against  abstentions
bishops  10160
clergy74870
laity79817

Official press release on this debate: General Synod votes to retain marriage banns

Most of the day was devoted to legislation.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Tuesday

Archbishop of York General Synod Farewell to Sir Andreas Whittam Smith

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church No Ban on Banns
A Sleepy Session

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘We must discriminate’: pre-wedding passport checks cause stress, say clergy

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Church keeps medieval marriage banns to attract young worshippers

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 at 11:07am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 February 2017

Bishops' report – BBC radio coverage

As the General Synod started its meeting today, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme had an item on the Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships, and the forthcoming ‘take note’ debate. The piece featured a discussion between Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans and Chair of LGBTI Mission, and Susie Leafe, General Synod member and Director of Reform.

The 7-minute discussion can be heard here and begins at 1:21:45 in.

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

General Synod - day 1 - Monday 13 February

Updated during the day and on Tuesday

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting in London from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February. Links to the agenda and papers are here and here.

Order paper for Monday’s business

The final item of business on Monday is Questions. The questions and answers have been published in advance here and Synod will move directly to supplementary questions and answers when it gets to this item of business, which will be at about 5.30 pm.

Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian has been looking at the answer to question 36: C of E warns of ‘corrupting pressures of politics’ in response to Trump fears.

Olivia Rudgard of The Telegraph looks ahead to an item scheduled for Tuesday: Church of England ministers could work beyond the age of 70 to ease recruitment crisis.

Monday’s session starts at 3.00 pm from when there will be a live video stream of the proceedings.

Business included:

Synod agreed to include a Saturday in future dates (from 2018) for its February meetings in London. This will not result in longer meetings, but they will start later in the week.

This motion, marking the 500the anniversary of The Reformation, was passed:

That this Synod, in the context of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation and the Church of England’s understanding of the doctrine of justification as expressed in our historic formularies:
(a) give thanks to God for the rich spiritual blessings that the Reformation brought to the Church of England;
(b) welcome signs of convergence between the churches on the doctrine of salvation, noting Resolution 16.17 of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 regarding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and its relation to the Helsinski Report and ARCIC II’s Salvation and the Church; and
(c) commend initiatives in this anniversary year to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between churches, for the sake of our deeper renewal in the grace of God and our ability to share the gospel of salvation with all the world.

[Press release: General Synod hails reconciliation as Christians mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation]

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this presidential address.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Monday

Audio of all the sessions

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury suggests Brexit ‘in fascist tradition’

Harry Farley Christian Today Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK ‘Savagely Divided’ - Archbishop Of Canterbury

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Rumbling and Remembering

Patrick Foster The Telegraph Donald Trump is part of a ‘fascist tradition of politics’, says Archbishop

Tom Embury-Dennis Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby links Donald Trump and Brexit to fascism

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Retired bishops voice concern over same sex relationships report

This is the text of the letter that has been published tonight. There is an accompanying press release which is copied below the fold.

OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND
February 11th 2017

Dear Fellow Bishop
The Bishops’ Report to Synod on Sexuality

Most retired bishops would be prepared to admit that participation in the synodical processes of the church are not what they most miss about their role as diocesan or suffragan bishops. They also feel some reticence about entering into the current debates occupying their successors on the basis of information that is partial and becomes more and more dated with the passing of the years. There is a dilemma, though: you don’t work for years as a bishop and then easily and suddenly lose the bond you feel for the bishops, your successors and former colleagues. Nor do you lose your concern that the church of which you continue to be a bishop should be faithful in its commendation of the Gospel to the society at large.

So when a report emerges that is the subject of major controversy within the church and society some retired bishops will wish to do what the signatories of this letter are seeking to do, namely to reflect from their particular perspective on what our successors are seeking to say and do about an issue that has been a longstanding source of concern and contention.

Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situation suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.

You write after the Shared Conversations. We well remember having had lots of those, even if they did not have capital letters. But their integrity rested on the assurance that in reporting them the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’. Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes. Going down the road of seeking a change in the law or doctrinal formulation would indeed not have been realistic – but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.

The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction. Indeed, from the perhaps luxurious perspective of retirement the tone and culture of your document are incredibly familiar – we’ve been there and talked in that tone of voice, and it prevents calls for a change of culture, of course offered in complete sincerity by you, from ringing true.

We’ll avoid making too many detailed points just now; but hard as you have tried you have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly. In para 8 you draw a contrast between ‘the many who [hold] a conservative view of scripture [for whom] the underlying issue at stake is faithfulness to God’s word’ and others for whom ‘the imperative to read scripture differently stems from a parallel conviction’. If the second group are to recognise their voice in theological conversations their ‘parallel conviction’ needs to be expressed and not just alluded to.

May we end by assuring you that we continue to sympathise with the challenging nature of the task you have in this and other matters. You will receive much negative comment about your report, and we hope that these brief remarks may illuminate the reason for that: it is not that the Shared Conversations were thought to herald changes of law or doctrine; rather there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.

Yours sincerely in Christ

The Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson, formerly Bishop of Thetford
The Rt Revd Michael Doe, formerly Bishop of Swindon
The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Ellis, formerly Bishop of Grantham
The Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton
The Rt Revd John Gladwin, formerly Bishop of Guildford and of Chelmsford
The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, formerly Bishop of Bradwell
The Rt Revd the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme
The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield
The Rt Revd John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester
The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, formerly Bishop of Leicester
The Rt Revd Roy Williamson, formerly Bishop of Bradford and of Southwark
The Rt Revd Martin Wharton CBE, formerly Bishop of Newcastle

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RETIRED BISHOPS VOICE CONCERN OVER SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS REPORT

Fourteen retired bishops have taken the unprecedented step of intervening in the Church of England’s controversial debate over Same Sex Marriage, warning that the bishops appear to be “managing rather than enabling and leading” the debate.
The group, led by the former Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Peter Selby, has broken with convention to write an open letter to all bishops in the Church of England criticising their recent report on Same Sex Marriage ahead of a debate in General Synod on Wednesday 15th February.

Whilst as retired bishops they “feel some reticence” about entering into the debate, they explain they have done so because of their concern that a report that does not allow the authentic voice of LGBT people to be heard or the real theological argument to be advanced will not enable the church to engage credibly with wider society.

They suggest that the report has taken the shape it has because bishops today have a tendency to “see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading” the debate. They admit this task can be “exhausting” and can “blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions”.

Reflecting on the Shared Conversations, they believe that the report would only have integrity if it honoured “the assurance that the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’”. On the contrary, they assert that “our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice.”

The authors are concerned that their colleagues decided to focus too much on why it was not possible to change church law regarding same sex marriage, so much so that “that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes.” As such, they believe that the bishops’ “call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction.”

The most stinging criticism is left till last, where the authors believe that the bishops “have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly.” Quoting from the report which briefly recognises that there are those who hold a different interpretation of scripture to the traditional interpretation, they argue that “this “parallel conviction” …needs to be expressed and not just alluded to”, a view shared by many other vocal critics of the report.

The letter ends by acknowledging that “there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.”
ENDS

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 February 2017 at 10:16pm GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Friday, 10 February 2017

New name for merged Changing Attitude and LGCM

Following the recent announcement that LGCM and Changing Attitude are to merge, the two bodies have consulted on a new name for the combined body, which will be known as OneBodyOneFaith.

Details on the background to the choice of name can be read here.

Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the LGCM Board writes:

We are proud to announce that from 14th February we will be known as

OneBodyOneFaith

We will also use an explicatory strapline to help people locate what we do more easily. This is:

Affirming sexuality and gender in Christ

We will also be unveiling a new logo, and you’ll see a gradul change in our identity online, on social media and in the resources we produce to support our work.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Friday, 10 February 2017 at 4:42pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Protests planned at synod over marriage and sexuality report

Today’s Church Times carries a lot of relevant material.

News report: Madeleine Davies Critics of Bishops’ sex report plan a Synod protest vote

THE House of Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships (News, 3 February) is a “morally reprehensible document that needs to be rejected by the Synod”, the Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury, Canon Simon Butler, said on Wednesday.

Describing it as a “betrayal of trust” that left “weapons on the table”, he expected a “very close vote” after the take-note debate scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening.

“If it is defeated, that is a clear signal to the House of Bishops that Synod is unwilling to progress in the direction they are taking,” he said. “If it is a narrow vote, the Bishops would be very unwise to continue down this course, because the whole of the Church’s wider agenda will be subsumed into a conflict that will last for the next period of the life of the Church. That would be a disaster.”

The Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York, the Ven. Cherry Vann, said on Wednesday that she was “very aware of deep unhappiness about this report from across a wide spectrum of the Church”. Conversations with clergy and laity in the diocese of Manchester, and emails from people beyond, indicated a “strong call” for the Synod not to take note…

There are two comment articles. I strongly recommend that you read each of these all the way through, to get their full import.

Andrew Davison Everything hinges on three words

…What I have said so far draws on what the report says about the Bishops’ meetings, where the line in the sand concerned the law and doctrine of marriage. Skip forward in the report, and this principle morphs to “proposing no change to . . . law . . . or doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships” (§26). That shift is important because, in the next paragraph, this phrase limits what is up for consideration, not least by theologians.

…until it is clear what the Bishops take as immovable, we cannot go forward. Is it marriage, as laid out in Canon B.30, or the entire jumble of central-office convictions about anything to do with sexuality? The report suggests the former. The emphasis on marriage as the red line emerges from the account of the Bishops’ group; it is reiterated in relation to liturgical practice (§39); it is what they want to uphold ecumenically (§60); and it is also where the report ends, with an annex devoted entirely to questions of marriage…

Malcolm Brown The pain lies in facing hard truths

…But, however much the Bishops bear the brickbats with resignation, much comment on their recent Synod paper (GS 2055) underestimates the extent to which the Bishops and, indeed, the Church of England are bound by law in ways that severely limit their scope for manoeuvre.

Start with the law on marriage. The annex to the Bishops’ paper is not mere detail. It sets out the legal framework that would govern any attempt to change things as they are.

For there to be any move to same-sex marriage, canon law would have to change. That law cannot be changed without substantial majorities in each of the Houses of Synod. The Bishops have been accused of lacking pastoral concern (and worse), but how pastoral would it be to initiate a long process with all the continued pain it would cause with no serious likelihood (in the present state of the Church) of success?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 February 2017 at 7:37am GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Setting God's People Free

Updated Tuesday evening

Setting God’s People Free (GS 2056) is a report from the Archbishops’ Council to be debated at General Synod on the morning of Thursday 16 February. There is a brief summary on the Renewal & Reform pages of the Church of England website. The report aims to generate more active engagement by lay churchpeople.

There was a press release when the report was published, which we reported here.

To this can now be added these press reports

Hattie Williams Church Times New report calls for shift in attitude towards laity
Harry Farley Christian Today Clergy V Laity ‘Power Struggle’ Is Blocking Church Growth, Synod Told

and these comments/reviews

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church Setting God’s people free to do what they are told (follow the link at the end for the full report)
David Keen Opinionated Vicar ‘Setting God’s People Free’ - ministry on the other 6 days of the week, and who does it
Will Briggs Journeyman Review: Setting God’s People Free – A Report from the Archbishops’ Council.

Updates

Two from the CofE’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page

Andrew Nunn Why we should value the true treasures of the Church
Paul Cartwright ‘I Come to do Your will’
[The Andrew Nunn piece was included in our most recent Opinion roundup]

and an audio recording of an interview with Canon Mark Russell (who will be proposing the motion at Synod on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council): Why change is needed for Church growth

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 at 11:47am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 5 February 2017

Letter writing campaign against GS 2055

This letter has been sent to all LGCM, Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church supporters:

Like very many people, we were shocked and dismayed at the report published last week by a working party of the House of Bishops of the Church of England. You can read the report here. Despite a wish to create “maximal freedom” for LGBTI+ people, and a desire to have a “change of tone” in the way we are spoken about and to, there was essentially a recommendation of no change at all in the official position of the Church of England.

For too many of our members, who had taken part in all good faith in the Shared Conversations, this was a very significant betrayal of trust. LGCM is also concerned that the established church, in which the country as a whole has a stake, is proposing to retain unchanged a theology and pastoral practice and discipline that is significantly out of kilter with the nation’s understanding of equality and justice in matters of sexuality and gender. This is an issue which affects all those of us who believe our sexuality to be a gift from God. The Church of England seeks to engage with all the communities of England, and yet it does so in a way which diminishes the gospel message that God’s love is for everyone, without exception. We are all alike impeded in our mission of conveying the message that God’s love is for everyone, regardless of who they are, or who they love.

The Report is coming to General Synod on 15th February. There is to be a debate, at the end of which the Synod will be asked to “take note” of the Report. We are asking all members of General Synod not to take note. In other words, to vote against the motion.

LGCM is clear about its convictions and its purpose. The Statement of Conviction says:
It is the conviction of the members of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement that human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is their conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.
We are looking for the bishops of the Church of England to start to move in the direction of our convictions, and to acknowledge those as a permissible and honourable position to hold if you are an Anglican.

We ask ALL OUR MEMBERS AND ALL CHANGING ATTITUDE SUPPORTERS TO WRITE A PERSONAL LETTER TO GENERAL SYNOD REPRESENTATIVES to arrive before 13th February. It does not matter if you are not personally a member of the Church of England – as it is the Established Church you have an interest in their attitudes and policies and every right to express your view to its governing body. Share with them the memorandum attached [below the fold], and your hope that they will vote against taking note of it. Explain to them which parish or church you belong to and any office or role you play in that church (if you do). Tell them why this matters to you and ask them to vote against taking note. A personal letter will make much more impact than a brief email or text. Please also COPY YOUR LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE IN WHICH YOU LIVE. Pick up your pens and play your part in this vital campaign. Addresses of all Synod Members are here. If you would like to write but need help in identifying who are the right people to write to please contact us at hello@lgcm.org.uk and we will direct you to the correct people. We are looking for a substantial vote against this dangerous and inadequate report.

THANK YOU!
Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM

MEMO: TO ALL MEMBERS OF GENERAL SYNOD
DATE: 31 January 2017

LGCM recommends that in the debate on 15 February at General Synod, members should refuse to take note of ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops’, and further, should not take part in group work designed to gain approval of the document

  • The Lesbian and Gay Movement’s statement of conviction affirms that, “human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.” It follows that it is our “conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.”
  • LGCM identifies with the published priorities of the LGBTI Mission as providing the basis of a safer, more just and equitable church in which all can flourish
  • We are not demanding that everyone sees things from our perspective, but that there should now be decisive moves towards a ‘mixed economy’ in the established Church of England in which we all have an interest
  • The very least we were looking for from the Bishop’s report to General Synod was action to assure the safety and well-being of LGBTI+ people both within the Church of England and beyond it. Medical research shows that LGBTI+ people carry a higher burden of mental health problems corresponding with social isolation and stigma; these are heightened in a community that pathologises LGBTI+ identities
  • The Report was a betrayal of the trust vested in the House of Bishops during the Shared Conversations process, and opens the way to a single, very conservative interpretation of these matters being introduced
  • In the absence of any action being recommended by the bishops to move to greater inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the life of the Church of England through liturgical, theological or doctrinal change, we have no confidence that the change of ‘tone’ and desire for ‘maximal freedom’ will be seen
  • The report itself has been a retrograde first step in that direction, with the vice chair of reflection group, Bishop Pete Broadbent, acknowledging that ‘it is a pretty conservative document’ to his clergy
  • Our understanding is that the majority of members of synod were looking to the College and House of Bishops, when they took the initiative to respond to the Shared Conversations process, to lay a path for a process of change, perhaps setting a programme of activity to realise some of the priorities articulated by the LGBTI Mission
  • We have no confidence that their stated intention to revise the Church of England’s document ‘Issues in human sexuality’ or the pastoral advice that clergy have for their engagement with LGBTI+ persons will lead to development in the safety provided for LGBTI+ people within the church, let alone lead to progress in affirmative pastoral support
  • We believe that progress to these can only be made when the Church of England formally recognises and affirms the theological diversity that is already present within its members
  • Our analysis is that contribution of the Bishops’ reflection group has not led to a report that reflects the mind or expectations of the Church of England’s synod, that at least minimal change take place; to this end, we ask members of synod to refuse to take note of the Report, indicating their dissatisfaction with its recommendations
  • Further, we understand that Synod members are to be asked to take part in group conversations before the debate to prepare the ground for an acceptance of what the bishops are proposing. LGBT synod members and their supporters have already participated in the Shared Conversations process at last summer’s Synod sessions, and for many also at a regional level. They have made themselves vulnerable for questionable outcome. To ask them to submit to any kind of further examination of the issues is both pointless and insulting and we urge all Synod members to refuse to take part in such group work
  • We ask members of synod use the ‘take note’ debate to ask the bishops to respond to the priorities of the LGBTI Mission.
  • In particular, we ask for a guarantee that acceptance and approval of theological diversity amongst members of the Church of England in these matters will be formally recognised
  • To enable this small move forwards we ask, not for further reports, but that the House of Bishops devise a commended liturgy which recognises and affirms LGBT partnerships as a blessing and gift of God

Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM
31 January 2017

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 5 February 2017 at 6:17pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Friday, 3 February 2017

Church Times coverage of the bishops' sexuality report

There are two news articles today:

No change on marriage after the Shared Conversations by Hattie Williams.
Yes, this article was first published last week on the website, and linked here previously, but scroll down for a new article There was talk, but who was listening? by Madeleine Davies

Critics call Bishops’ gay report ungodly by Hattie Williams.

And there is a long editorial: The united front.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 3 February 2017 at 10:41am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Safeguarding at Iwerne Trust

Channel 4 News reported yesterday on allegations of abuse at the Iwerne Trust: Archbishop admits Church ‘failed terribly’ over abuse revelations

The Church of England has tonight apologised unreservedly after a Channel 4 News investigation revealed that a prominent Anglican evangelical and former colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury is alleged to have severely assaulted boys and young men for decades…

Other news reports include:

Patrick Foster, Nicola Harley, and Lydia Willgress The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury issues ‘unreserved and unequivocal’ apology after links to ‘child abuser’ emerge
‘I could feel the blood spattering on my legs’: Victims tell of ‘horrific’ beatings at hands of Archbishop’s friend

Samuel Osborne The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issues apology over Church of England links to ‘child abuser’

Kevin Rawlinson and Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church ‘could have done more’ over John Smyth abuse claims

The Archbishop has issued this statement in response to the Channel 4 News report.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury was a Dormitory Officer at Iwerne holiday camp in the late 1970s, where boys from public schools learnt to develop life as Christians. The role was to be a mentor to the boys, as was that of his now wife at a similar camp for girls.

John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the Archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him. The Archbishop left England to work in Paris for an oil company in 1978, where he remained for five years. He began training for ordination in 1989.

The Archbishop knew Mr Smyth had moved overseas but, apart from the occasional card, did not maintain contact with him.

In August 2013 the Bishop of Ely wrote to the Bishop of Cape Town, informing him of concerns expressed to his Diocese Safeguarding Adviser about Mr Smyth from an alleged survivor. The British Police had been notified. The Archbishop’s Chaplain at the time was forwarded this letter, and subsequently showed it to the Archbishop for information only.

The Archbishop has repeatedly said that he believes that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be a principle priority in all parts of the Church, and that any failings in this area must be immediately reported to the police.

The Archbishop is on the record as saying that survivors must come first, not the Church’s own interests. This applies regardless of how important, distinguished or well-known the perpetrator is.”

There is also a statement from the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Adviser.

“The violent abuse of young men between 1978-82, as outlined in the Channel 4 programme, should never have happened and we utterly condemn this behaviour and abuse of power and trust. The report into these horrific activities, drawn up by those linked with the Iwerne Trust, a non-denominational Christian charity, should have been forwarded to the police at the time. When the Church of England was alerted by a survivor, through the diocese of Ely in 2013, the police were immediately informed as was the Anglican Church in South Africa where Mr Smyth was then living. The national safeguarding officer, which was a part time post, was informed and helped find support for the survivors. Clearly more could have been done at the time to look further into the case. We now have a dedicated central team made up of six full time posts - we will be reviewing all files making further enquiries as necessary. We echo the Archbishop’s unreserved and unequivocal apology to all the survivors and are committed to listen to anyone who comes forward and we would urge anyone with any further information to report it to the police “

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 2 February 2017 at 11:32am GMT | Comments (70) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New Bishop of Sheffield announced

The Rt Revd Philip North, currently suffragan Bishop of Burnley, is to be the next Bishop of Sheffield. The announcement from Downing Street reads:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Philip John North, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Burnley, in the diocese of Blackburn, 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 6th July 2016.

The Right Reverend Philip North (aged 50), was educated at the University of York and trained for the ministry at Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his curacy at Sunderland Saint Mary and Saint Peter, in the Diocese of Durham from 1992 to 1996. Since 1997 he has been a member of the Company of Mission Priests.

From 1996 to 2002 he was Vicar of Hartlepool Holy Trinity in Durham Diocese and also served as Area Dean of Hartlepool from 2000 until 2002. From 2002 to 2008 he was Priest Administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and from 2004 to 2007 he was also Priest-in-Charge of Hempton in the diocese of Norwich. From 2008 to 2015 he was Team Rector of the Parish of Old Saint Pancras in the Diocese of London. Since 2015 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Burnley.

His interests include current affairs, cycling and walking.

The diocese of Sheffield carries further details here.

Comment and welcome from the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda is here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Monday, 30 January 2017

The Bishop of Liverpool reflects on the ministry of bishops

Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool has written a reflection on the ministry of bishops for Via Media.News.

Elders of the Tribe

“The weak bishops.” “The lying bishops.” “The bastard bishops.” “I wouldn’t trust them as far as I can spit.” “The only way they’ll give a straight-line response is if you ask them to design a corkscrew.”

A few months ago on this site I wrote a piece which spoke of the need for people to express their anger if they were angry. I have seen all the phrases above on social media in the past few days, and I am glad of them, though I am not a masochist and I do not enjoy them. I am particularly grateful to the people who have contacted me directly to express their emotion and to make their points about the recent bishops’ statement.

For some, the sense of betrayal is particularly acute when applied to people like me, who have spoken of the need for change in the Church. Where was I? What happened to my voice? How could I have been so weak as to stand with this document? …

Do read it all.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 30 January 2017 at 11:55am GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

News and comment on the Bishops' report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships

news reports

Hattie Williams Church Times No change on marriage in view as Bishops pledge to update sexuality guidance

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E bishops refuse to change stance on gay marriage

BBC Same-sex marriage: Church of England ‘should not change stance’

Ekklesia Disappointment at bishops’ report on same-sex marriage

Henry Bodkin The Telegraph Church of England bishops reject lifting opposition to same-sex marriage

Harry Farley Christian Today Church Of England Refuses To Budge On Gay Marriage

blogs

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Sex and the bishops

Lucy Gorman Synod Scoop I trusted because what else was I to do?

Rachel Mann More Dust: Personal Response to the Statement on Sexuality

Archdruid Eileen Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Beaker Conversations on Sexuality

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Bishops, sexuality & marriage

Philip Blackledge frpip The old order. The C of E, LGBT, and holding on.

Marcus Green Salvation Songs glasses

Ian Paul Psephizo Where are the bishops leading on the sexuality debate?

Michael Sadgrove Woolgathering in North East England The Bishops’ Report on Same-Sex Relationships

Richard Peers Quodcumque Thoughts on the Holocaust Memorial Day Statement from the House of Bishops: becoming truth tellers

other comment

Paul Bayes Dioces of Liverpool Bishop Paul urges us to read the Marriage and Same Sex relationships document carefully and prayerfully

David Walker Diocese of Manchester Synod report on sexuality

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today The Church Of England And Gays: A Brave Attempt To Walk The Biblical Line

India Sturgis The Telegraph ‘Finding out my priest husband was gay was devastating. It was a death’

Martin Seeley East Anglian Daily Times Bishop Martin: Why is the Church agonising over homosexuality?

Michael Nazir-Ali Anglican Ink Statement on the Church of England’s Bishops’ Statement on Gay Marriage

Susie Leafe Anglican Ink Reform press statement in response to Bishops’ gay marriage document

GAFCON UK The Bishops’ Report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships: a response from GAFCON UK

Tim Dieppe Christian Concern Bishops uphold teaching on marriage

Jayne Ozanne Premier Christianity The House of Bishops’ statement on sexuality is unbelievable, unacceptable and ungodly

Ed Shaw Premier Christianity Why we should celebrate today’s reaffirmation of traditional marriage from the House of Bishops

Christina Beardsley Changing Attitude It’s a (Church of England) lock out

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 January 2017 at 6:38pm GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 January 2017

LGCM responds to the Bishops

The Board of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has published a press release, and an Open Letter. Both are copied in full below (the press release is below the fold).

OPEN LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND FROM THE BOARD OF THE LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT

Dear brothers and sisters,

A Response to the House of Bishops’ Report to General Synod following the Shared Conversations

When the Pilling report came out you proposed a method, the Shared Conversations, that held the hope of finding a way forward in the Church of England in the controversial area of sexuality by encouraging ‘good disagreement’. We understood that to mean that members of the church were not to expect to see any one perspective dominate, but for them all to acknowledge their part in the Body of Christ, reflecting the relationship in him that they share, whatever their views of human sexuality. They were asked to participate in the process of Shared Conversations in a spirit of Christian openness and trust.

LGBTI+ Anglicans gladly did so, but for those who did so there was a high personal cost of putting themselves and their relationships on the line for public discussion and comment once again, as if to legitimise them. For some that was too much to contemplate. Others committed to the process, in the hope that this would lead, at last, to LGBTI+ people being given some real space in the corporate life of the Church of England. We all looked for an acknowledgement of the potential for holiness and growth in grace that many of us have found, not despite, but through embracing our God-given sexuality and the relationships into which we are convinced God has led us.

When the Conversations came to an end you told the church that you wished to give episcopal leadership to shaping what came next. You announced the timetable, but also made it clear that you were not at that stage inviting representations. You asked your people to trust you. As an ecumenical organisation with many Church of England members, we responded by acceding to that request, as we have all through this process.

It is now clear that the process has almost entirely failed to hear the cries of faithful LGBTI+ people. You are proposing to formalise ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ among clergy in same-sex relationships. This essentially asks clergy to dissemble and keep the nature of their relationships hidden – far from equalising the situation between straight and gay clergy it pushes LGBTI+ clergy back into the closet. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” diminishes everyone’s integrity: where it was used in wider society it was eventually discarded and discredited. Why are you introducing this now?

You write in your report about the need establish “across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people”. You say also that your responsibility is to clarify the issues at stake not find solutions. The issues at stake are principally the lives of these lesbian and gay people. You tell us that the bishops are not going to change an iota of the current teaching of the Church of England. If that is the case, then changes of tone will do nothing to improve the second-class position of the LGBTI+ faithful. Their relationships will be merely tolerated or judged wanting, and LGBTI+ clergy will be vulnerable if their relationships become known.

You have done nothing to acknowledge the goodness or sanctity of the relationships of LGBTI+ people, lay and clerical. Anglican LGBTI+ people are still labouring under the Higton motion and Issues in Human Sexuality as the last word on this matter. You could have made clear that issues of sexuality are not first order theological issues and that same-sex relationships, which the Archbishop described as sometimes being of “stunning quality”, could be a means of grace to those in them. You have done nothing. There is a failure of leadership and theological insight in the Church of England.

This outcome is an almost complete betrayal of the trust that has been placed in you by faithful disciples of Christ. There is no space for good disagreement. The old lines of dishonesty remain intact. Not an inch has been given to support LGBTI+ inclusion.

We have to tell you that this is completely unacceptable. Echoing the words of the late Una Kroll, “We asked for bread, and you gave us a stone”. You make much of starting processes to write more documents, but our observation is that anything written is unlikely to move the situation forwards. LGCM and Changing Attitude, who are shortly to merge, will now begin a series of campaigns to change this situation. We will use the levers of power available to us and will oppose and challenge your stance where it is intransigent at every opportunity. Those of us who are members of the Church of England will remain in communion with you and will insist on making our protests and acting in ways that seek to hold the Church of England together. We will work to help it move to a more diverse and inclusive future, bringing the message of Christ alive in the present day. Like you, we are deeply concerned with the decline of the Church of England not simply numerically, but in the estimation of the English people. Our concern is, therefore, missionary as well as pastoral and political.

Your actions and inactions will not commend your church to ordinary people. We will work to make the Church of England a body of which all Christians can be proud again. We are glad that your proposal for a new report to replace Issues will engage and include LGBTI+ Anglicans in the writing of it, and we remain ready to participate in that. In other initiatives where you allow us we will work with you, but our clear focus is on the changes that need to come.

Yours in the fellowship of Christ,

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive Officer
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT
27 January 2017

We’ll work with you – but we won’t wait for you, LGBTI+ groups tell House of Bishops.

Groups working for the full inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the Church of England have responded to Friday’s statement by the House of Bishops by promising support for those who want to change – but saying that they can no longer wait for those who don’t, and that their members and supporters will begin the work of making change happen at the grassroots.

In an open letter to the bishops, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement expressed its disappointment at the report, whilst recognising the bishops’ sincere attempts to draw together those of conflicting conviction. Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of LGCM, said, ‘To echo Una Kroll’s words, we asked for bread and we’ve been given stones. LGBTI+ people who have participated in this process in good faith, at considerable personal cost, will feel angry and disappointed that there appears so little real change. Despite us knowing that many individual bishops favour a move towards a more gracious, compassionate and inclusive church, collectively they’ve failed to deliver – promising only more reflection. We stand ready to engage in the process of changing the tone of the conversation – but this has to lead to tangible change. This is another missed opportunity which further undermines the mission of the established church to convey the gospel promise of good news for everyone.’

Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of LGCM, said, ‘The waiting is over. What we’re saying now to the bishops is that LGBTI+ Christians are here, are part of the church, and are happy to work with those who want change. But LGCM can no longer wait for episcopal leadership. The Spirit is moving in God’s faithful people and we’re seeking to be obedient to that movement. It’s a very exciting time.’

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

1. LGCM’s open letter to the House of Bishops is attached
2. LGCM is a charity which is committed to the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Christian churches.
3. Further enquiries to Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive on 07497 203635 or Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of Trustees on 07894 906230
4. Further information about the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement can be found at www.lgcm.org.uk

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 January 2017 at 12:26pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations - A Report from the House of Bishops

The House of Bishops has released Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations (GS 2055). It was the main item at this morning’s pre-General Synod press conference and there is this press release, copied below.

[There is a very brief mention of other topics to be discussed at General Synod in the press release. I have updated my list of online papers to include the remaining papers, published today.]

General Synod Press Conference
27 January 2017

The Church of England’s law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church’s doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.

A report from the House of Bishops to be discussed by the Church’s General Synod next month upholds the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

But it also concludes that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples - which allows clergy to provide informal prayers for those marrying or forming a civil partnership - is not clear enough and should be revisited.

It also calls for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbian and gay people and those attracted to people of the same sex throughout the Church of England.

The paper recommends that bishops prepare a substantial new teaching document on marriage and relationships to replace or expand upon documents drawn up in the 1990s.

And it calls for new guidance to be prepared about the kind of questions put to candidates for ordination - irrespective of their sexual orientation - about their lifestyle.

It also speaks of the need for the Church to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirm the need to stand against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.

The report from the House of Bishops attempts to sum up the Church’s position after a two-year process of shared conversations on the subject of human sexuality, involving clergy and laity.

It acknowledges that it represents the consensus of opinion among the bishops rather than a unanimous view and sets out a process rather than attempting a final resolution.

The General Synod will discuss the paper in a “Take Note” debate on the afternoon of Wednesday February 15.

Members will have an opportunity to consider it in small groups immediately before the debate.

In a foreword to the document, the bishops explain: “We recognise our deficiencies and offer this paper with humility.

“We know that this report may prove challenging or difficult reading.

“We are confident, however, that the commitment that has been shown to listening to one another, not least through the Shared Conversations, in dioceses and in the General Synod, will have helped prepare us all as members of Synod to address together the challenges we face as a part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

“We would ask for it to be read as a whole.”

Presenting the paper at a press conference this morning the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James said:

“This isn’t the end of a process but we are somewhere in the middle of it.

“We are sharing where we have reached in order to be as transparent as possible, and open to other voices.

“We hope that the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some.

“This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same sex relationships within the Church, and within the House of Bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture.”

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, said: “The report will be the subject of a ‘take note’ debate. Such a debate is a neutral motion.

“It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report, but a vote in favour of the motion does not commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter in the report.

“The House of Bishops will listen carefully to the debate, and to any subsequent matters raised by members in correspondence, to inform their further work.”

The report is contained among papers circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod which meets in Westminster next month.

Other newly released papers include background papers ahead of debates on the reading of banns of marriage and fixed odds betting terminals.

Papers sent out in an earlier circulation last week included further updates on the process of simplification of Church regulations as well as material on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a background document on clergy risk assessment regulations which will be debated on Thursday February 16.

The General Synod will meet at the Assembly Hall, Church House, 27 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London from 3pm on Monday February 13 to 5.15pm on Thursday 16 February.

Notes to editors:

The full agenda and papers can be found here:

The comments from the Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Willesden are below.

A Statement from the Bishop of Norwich:

When reports to the General Synod are launched at a press briefing they are often published at the end of a process and contain recommendations. This report on marriage and same sex relationships from the House of Bishops isn’t that sort of report. It describes where the bishops have reached in their reflections. It goes on to provide a framework identifying areas where we believe present advice, policies or practice need further consideration, and invites members of General Synod and the wider Church, to contribute. So this isn’t the end of a process but we are somewhere in the middle of it. We are sharing where we have reached in order to be as transparent as possible, and open to other voices.

We hope that the tone and register of this report will help to commend it, though we recognise it will be challenging reading for some. This is no last word on this subject. For there are very different views on same sex relationships within the Church, and within the House of Bishops, mainly based on different understandings of how to read scripture. The House is agreed, however, that our present teaching documents do not address some elements of the contemporary situation regarding marriage and relationships in our culture. I refer to the current teaching document on marriage, issued by the House of Bishops in 1999, and an earlier document on same sex relationships, Issues in Human Sexuality. Neither discusses nor even anticipates same sex marriage, a reminder of just how quickly things have changed. Issues, published in 1991, was written when Clause 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was in force. It prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools and prevented local councils from spending money on lesbian and gay projects including anything which suggested support of what it called “pretended family relationships”. The temper of the time in which Issues was written was a very different one from ours. The later teaching document from 1999 simply assumes marriage is the union of one man with one woman. Hence, the House of Bishops believes it needs to commission a new teaching document which articulates such an understanding of marriage within a theology of relationships for our changed times. This report isn’t that document but it indicates why it is needed.

The House of Bishops believes that the Church of England’s teaching on marriage, which it holds in common with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, and the majority of the churches of the Reformation, should continue to be expressed in the terms found in Canon B30, namely that “the Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is a union permanent and life-long, of one man with one woman…” But there is a great deal more than marriage alone to be considered in relation to same sex relationships. The report affirms the place of lesbian and gay people within the Church. Even in 1991 Issues in Human Sexuality said that those in same sex partnerships should be included within the life and fellowship of the Church. We reaffirm that gladly and decisively, recognising that for Christians our identity in Christ is primary, and of greater significance than gender, sexuality, age, nationality or any other characteristic. So no change in doctrine is proposed but it is often pastoral practice - how we treat people - which matters most. This means - as the report suggests - establishing across the Church of England a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families, and continuing to work toward mutual love and understanding on these issues across the Church. And so we speak in the report about re-examining the existing framework of our pastoral practice to permit maximum freedom within it. We recognise two areas in particular where advice in relation to the pastoral care and support of lesbian and gay people needs fresh thought.

At present clergy are advised that they may offer “informal prayer” to those registering civil partnerships or entering same sex marriage. The parameters of such pastoral support are unclear. The House proposes that there should be more guidance for clergy about appropriate pastoral provision for same sex couples.

The House of Bishops also believes present arrangements for asking ordinands and clergy about their relationships and lifestyle are not working well. It’s felt that there’s too much concentration on whether ordinands or clergy are in sexually active same sex relationships rather than framing questions about sexual morality within a much wider examination of the way in which all ordinands and clergy order their lives. The Church of England has always been suspicious of intrusive interrogation of its members, preferring to trust clergy and lay people in their Christian discipleship. However, all clergy are asked at their ordination whether they will fashion their lives “after the way of Christ”. We believe we should revisit how this is explored beforehand so that the same questions are addressed to all.

At the General Synod next month I will give an address exploring why we believe some of our formulations on pastoral practice do not now seem adequate. The Bishop of Willesden, as Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflection Group, will introduce some case studies which members of Synod will examine in groups so that we consider the lived experience of people within our Church. Later there will be a take note debate on the report. We hope that in the groups and in the debate much will be offered to the House of Bishops for its further work in this area. I will now pass over to the Bishop of Willesden who will speak about the process in the House of Bishops over the past few months, and the Synodical process which lies before us.

A statement on process from the Bishop of Willesden:

This report evolved though discussion, study and reflection at meetings of both the House of Bishops (the Bishops who are members of General Synod) and the College of Bishops (all the currently serving Bishops of the Church of England). The Reflections Group took the raw material from those discussions to produce the document that is going to Synod. Some of the most useful and fruitful reflection came from our own group work as we discussed real life case studies, and, as the Bishop of Norwich has indicated, we shall be offering group work based on similar case studies to members of General Synod in February. We anticipate that the groups will enable further good listening and thoughtful reflection across the Synod between people of a diversity of viewpoints.

The report will then be the subject of a “take note” debate. Such a debate is a neutral motion. It allows Synod to discuss the content and recommendations contained in the report, but a vote in favour of the motion does not commit the Synod to the acceptance of any matter in the report. The House of Bishops will listen carefully to the debate, and to any subsequent matters raised by members in correspondence, to inform their further work.

This may well include matters such as the teaching document and the guidance to clergy on pastoral provision.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 January 2017 at 10:53am GMT | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ken Leech Conference - 20 May 2017 in Liverpool

Kenneth Leech was a committed Christian Socialist, who drew on the historical precedents of the radical Anglo-Catholic tradition. As a priest and theologian, he was rooted in and resourced by a sacramental spirituality. A regular lecturer at Universities in the UK and the USA, he produced a range of books exploring theology and spirituality. They were practical, grounded in his work and ministry in the East End of London. Essentially, he was a theologian of the streets.

The Ken Leech Conference will be held on Saturday 20th May 2017 from 10 am to 4 pm at Liverpool Hope University. It has called by the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool to celebrate Ken’s life and work, to encourage those who value Ken’s wisdom and insight, to introduce Ken to a new generation and to foster an ongoing commitment to a prophetic theology and spirituality.

Bishop Paul and Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor & Rector of Liverpool Hope University, will open the conference. Keynote speakers will include Terry Drummond, Revd Professor Alison Milbank and Fr George Guiver CR.

Booking and further information can be found here.

Bookings should be made via Eventbrite no later than 15 May 2017.

There are further details below the fold.

True Prayer True Justice
Saturday 20th May 2017 10 am to 4 pm

What: Your opportunity to reflect on the life and work of Kenneth Leech, an “urban theologian”.

Where: Liverpool Hope University (Hope Park Campus)

Overview:

  • Terry Drummond shares his reflections on Kenneth Leech’s life.
  • Subversive Orthodoxy and Anglo-Catholic Socialism - Alison Milbank.
  • True Prayer: The Importance of Silence and Stillness in Urban Ministry by George Guiver CR.

Programme:

10.00 am Welcome drinks and pastries.

10.20 am Welcome: Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor & Rector, Liverpool Hope University
Introduction: Bishop Paul

10.40 am A Life: Terry Drummond’s reflections on Ken Leech.

11.00 am Lives - Memories of Ken.

11.15 am Break.

11.30 am Subversive Orthodoxy & Anglo-Catholic Socialism: Revd Professor Alison Milbank.
Talk and time for questions.

1.00 pm Buffet Lunch.

2.00 pm True Prayer – the importance of silence & stillness in urban ministry, leading into meditative space: Fr George Guiver CR.

3.30 pm Closing of conference: Bishop Paul: moving from silence to acting in the world.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Bishop of Bristol to retire

The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, has announced that he will retire on 30 September 2017.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 24 January 2017 at 10:24am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Friday, 20 January 2017

Publication of General Synod papers

In conjunction with today’s release of General Synod papers (see my article below) the Church of England has issued the press release below.

Publication of General Synod papers
20 January 2017

The Church of England needs to undergo a major “culture shift” to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.

The report, entitled “Setting God’s People Free”, calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere - from the factory or office, to the gym or shop - to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.

Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.

The report is among papers being circulated to members of the Church of England’s General Synod which meets in Westminster next month. The first circulation of papers also includes further updates on the process of simplification of Church regulations. There is also material on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a background paper on clergy risk assessment regulations which will be debated on Thursday February 16.

The first circulation of papers is available here.

A second circulation of papers will be published on Friday, January 27.

The synod timetable is available here.

The General Synod will meet at the Assembly Hall, Church House, 27 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London from 3pm on Monday, February 13 to 5.15pm on Thursday, 16 February.

Further information:

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of Church Army and member of Archbishops’ Council explains why a culture change is needed in the Church.

Fr Paul Cartwright, Parish Priest, St Peter the Apostle and St John the Baptist, Barnsley and General Synod Member writes on how he encourages his congregation to live out their faith in the world.

Renewal and Reform is the Church of England’s initiative to promote growth in the church in every community in England. The paper, Setting God’s People Free (part of the Lay Leadership strand) and the Simplification of Church regulations are part of Renewal and Reform. More information is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 January 2017 at 12:06pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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February General Synod - online papers

Updated 27 January, 12 February

All the papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online

The first batch of papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available online. The remaining papers will be issued on 27 January and I will add links when these become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers from both circulations

Papers in numerical order with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration
Synod meets from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February 2017.

GS 2014B - Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2014Z - Report by the Steering Committee

GS 2027A - Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2027Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2029A - Draft Amending Canon No. 36 [Tuesday]
GS 2029AA - Draft Amending Canon No. 37
GS 2029Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 2030 - Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2030X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2031A - Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2031Y - Report by the Steering Committee
[Consolidation, Destinations and Origins]

GS 2032A - Draft Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2032Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2042 - Agenda

GS 2043 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2044 - Anniversary of the Reformation [Monday]

GS 2045A & GS 2045B - Preliminaries to Marriage [Tuesday]

GS 2046 - Draft Church Representation, Ecumenical and Minister Measure [Tuesday]
GS 2046X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2047 - Draft Amending Canon No. 38 [Tuesday]
GS 2047X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2048 - The Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 [Tuesday]
GS 2048X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2049 - The Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2017 [Tuesday]
GS 2049X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2050 - The Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016 [[Tuesday]
GS 2050X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2051 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 [deemed business - Tuesday]
GS 2051X - Explanatory memorandum

GS 2052 - Creation of Suffragan See for the Diocese of Leicester [Wednesday]

GS 2053 - Appointment to the Archbishops’ Council [Wednesday]

GS 2054A & GS 2054B - Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: Reduction of Maximum Stake [Wednesday]

GS 2055 - Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops [Wednesday]

GS 2056 - Setting God’s People Free: Report from the Archbishops’ Council [Thursday]

GS 2057A & GS 2057B - Mission and Administration [contingency business]

Other papers

GS Misc 1148 - Central Stipends Authority Report
GS Misc 1149 - Diocese Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1150 - Update on Renewal and Reform
GS Misc 1151 - Ecumenical Relations Report 2016
GS Misc 1152 - Simplification of Ecumenical Regulations
GS Misc 1153 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities
GS Misc 1154 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1155 - Holding Office under Common Tenure
GS Misc 1156 - Statement on the Reformation Anniversary
GS Misc 1157 - Simplification - the story so far

Questions Notice Paper

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 January 2017 at 11:56am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Monday, 16 January 2017

Bishop of Lancaster to retire

The Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, the suffragan Bishop of Lancaster in the diocese of Blackburn, has announced that he will retire later this year: The Anglican Bishop of Lancaster announces his retirement.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 16 January 2017 at 2:10pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Sexuality and Anglican Identities

The University of Chester is engaged in a two-year project, Sexuality and Anglican Identities.

This seeks to engage the Academy, Chaplaincy and Church in conversation about current issues relating to sexuality within the contemporary Anglican context. A particular focus will be on how articulation of various positions on these matters, contribute to competing claims to Anglican identity. The project is funded by the Church Universities Fund.

The first of two open forums at Chester Cathedral, The Past, Present and Future of Christian Marriage, was held on Saturday 22 October, 2016. The second open forum, New Directions in Sexualities and Christianity, will be held from 1 pm to 3 pm on Saturday 11 February. The speakers will be

- Professor Adrian Thatcher, University of Exeter

- Dr Susannah Cornwall, University of Exeter

- The Rev Dr Mark Vasey-Saunders

- Dr David Hilborn, St John’s School of Mission

On Saturday 6 May there will be a day conference, for which there is a call for papers. Proposals of not more than 300 words to be with Dr Jessica Keady (j.keady@chester.ac.uk) by 28 February.

More information is on a public Facebook page here.

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Friday, 13 January 2017

Changing Attitude and LGCM announce merger

Updated to add press link

Changing Attitude and LGCM announce plans to merge their work to create ‘new missional movement for transformation and change’.

Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, who have between them been working for over 60 years for LGBT inclusion across the Christian churches, have announced plans to merge.

Tracey Byrne, LGCM’s Chief Executive said, ‘We’ve been working closely with Changing Attitude for some time now and we have so much in common, and so much to gain from working together. We both bring wisdom and experience to our work, and Changing Attitude’s deep understanding of the Church of England is complemented by LGCM’s insights from across and beyond the denominations. We want to see all that energy, commitment and vision combined to bring about real and lasting change.’

LGCM marked its fortieth anniversary in 2016, and Changing Attitude celebrated 20 years of Colin Coward’s leadership on his retirement in 2015. Tracey went on to say, ‘Both LGCM and Changing Attitude have been blessed with extraordinary and prophetic founders and leaders – people like Colin, Malcolm Johnson, Jim Cotter and Richard Kirker. We shall not see their like again – but of course we’re also part of a world and a church which functions very differently to the way it did in 1976. We have a really firm foundation from which to build a new movement which draws in all people of goodwill who want to see the church welcome LGBT people on equal terms with our sisters and brothers.’

Jeremy Timm of Changing Attitude said, ‘This is a really exciting opportunity for us to further LGCM and Changing Attitude’s work, to make ourselves a resource and a force for change in the churches as they continue in their journey of understanding in relation to sexuality and gender. We firmly believe we can do this better together, and as both boards of trustees have been talking and listening to one another over the past six months, we’ve become really excited and energised about what the future holds.’

LGCM’s Chair of Trustees, Jeremy Pemberton added, ‘If we’re going to reach out to a new generation with the message that the gospel is good news for everyone, then we’ll all need to commit ourselves to making that a credible and authentic claim for LGBT people too. That will involve humble listening and prophetic action at every level of the churches, from our leaders and from the many people we know are longing for change. The new movement will be uniquely placed to resource that kind of transformation.’

Notes for editors:

1. LGCM is a charity which is committed to the full inclusion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the life of the Christian churches.

2. Changing Attitude campaigns for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the Church of England.

3. Further enquiries to Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive on 07497 203635

4. Further information about the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement can be found at www.lgcm.org.uk

5. Further information about Changing Attitude can be found at www.changingattitude.org.uk

Update

Carey Lodge Christian Today ‘We Want Real Change’: Gay Lobby Groups Join Forces To Fight For LGBT Inclusion In The Church

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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Peterborough Cathedral: Bishop issues Visitation Charge

Updated Monday 9 January and Wednesday 11 January

Peterborough Cathedral has issued a press statement: Bishop of Peterborough issues Visitation Charge to the Cathedral. The full text of the statement is copied below the fold.

The full text of the Visitation Charge is available here. It is only three pages long, and is worth reading in full.

A statement from the Church Commissioners is also published over here.

Update
The retired Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, has published Peterborough Cathedral: thoughts on the visitation report and in particular he discusses the last six paragraphs of the report in which the Bishop of Peterborough argues that the current legal framework for cathedrals is inadequate.

Update
The Peterborough Telegraph reports that there have been 12 redundancies and some property sales: “About half of the redundancies have been achieved by not recruiting to jobs as people have left for other career moves or retirement. The cuts have been made in several areas including administration, hospitality, vergers and welcomers.”

Text of press statement:Bishop of Peterborough issues Visitation Charge to the Cathedral

“Let’s work together to put things right.” That was the clear message from the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, as he published his Visitation Charge to Peterborough Cathedral today.

The Bishop launched the Visitation – an inquiry into why the Cathedral had got into financial difficulties – back in the autumn. “This wasn’t about attributing blame, he says. “It was to help the Cathedral get things onto a better footing for the future.”

He has heard evidence from accountancy and other experts, and has now moved the Visitation process on to its final stage by issuing his “Charge.” This is a legal document, instructing the Chapter – the Cathedral’s governing body – what steps it must take.

“I am confident we can get this right,” Bishop Donald says. “The Cathedral has received financial and management support, and under the Acting Dean, Canon Jonathan Baker, the Chapter is moving in the right direction.”

“Sadly, some redundancies have been necessary, and some property sales, but debts are now being paid more quickly. There is still hard work ahead, and more tough decisions, but the Cathedral will be able to carry on with its vital work. We are now beginning the process of appointing a new Dean – a senior clergyperson who will chair the Chapter – and I am confident that Peterborough Cathedral has a good future and can look forward to its 900th anniversary in 2018.”

The Bishop’s Charge can be read here: Bishop’s Visitation Charge

Canon Jonathan Baker, the Acting Dean, said:

“We welcome Bishop Donald’s Charge and the Chapter has already begun to implement a number of the Directions he has made. We are grateful for the continuing support of the Church Commissioners as we work towards a sustainable financial future. Whilst the Cathedral faces many challenges, there are also some exciting opportunities for us to seize as we move into a new phase of serving the Diocese and City of Peterborough.”

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich: Dr Karowei Dorgu

Updated to add press reports

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich: Dr Dorgu

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 20 December 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu, MBBS. BA, MA, to the Suffragan See of Woolwich.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu, MBBS. BA, MA, Vicar of St John the Evangelist Upper Holloway, in the Diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave, OBE, MA, on his translation to the See of Lichfield 10 June 2016.

Background

Reverend Prebendary Dr Dorgu is aged 58. He was a GP. He studied at the London Bible College for his BA, and studied for his ordination at Oak Hill Theological College from 1993 to 1995 and also holds an MA in missiology. He was Curate at St Mark’s Tollington in London Diocese from 1995 to 1998, before moving to be Curate at Upper Holloway in the same diocese until 2000. From 2000 to 2012 he was Team Vicar at Upper Holloway before becoming Vicar in 2012 and from 2016 he has been Prebendary at St Paul’s Cathedral.

He is married to Mosun, a doctor. She is a consultant child psychiatrist who works for the NHS and they have 2 grown-up children.

His interests include reading, cycling, travelling, cooking for guests and he is a keen Arsenal FC supporter.

Southwark diocesan website Bishop of Woolwich Appointed
London diocesan website New Bishop of Woolwich announced

Dr Dorgu will be consecrated in Southwark Cathedral on St Patrick’s Day 17 March 2017.

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England appoints first black bishop in 20 years

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today First Nigerian Bishop In Church of England Counters Islamist Terror With Message Of Love In Jesus Christ

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Monday, 19 December 2016

February General Synod - outline timetable

Update 15 January 2017 — A slightly revised timetable has been issued. The table below has been amended; changes are in red.

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. Further papers will be published on Friday 20 January 2017.

[The published timetable does not explain the asterisks against certain items, but these clearly indicate timed business, eg Questions on the Monday will start not later than 5.30 pm.]

GENERAL SYNOD FEBRUARY 2017 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Timetable

Monday 13 February
House of Clergy will meet from 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
  3.00 pm – 7.00 pm
3.00 pm Worship
3.15 pm Introductions and welcomes
3.25 pm Report by the Business Committee
3.50 pm Motion on General Synod February 2018 dates
4.00 pm Motion on General Synod dates 2019-2020
4.15 pm Debate on a Motion on the Anniversary of the Reformation
5.00 pm Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
*5.30 pm Questions
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Tuesday 14 February
  9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion
10.30 am Farewell to the First Church Estates Commissioner and Response
10.55 am Private Members Motion on “Preliminaries to Marriage”
  Legislative Business
*12.00 pm Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting / Final Approval
12.35 pm Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure – Final Drafting / Final Approval
  2.30 pm – 7.00 pm
  Legislative Business (ctd…)
2.30 pm Legislative Reform Measure – Revision Stage
4.00 pm Statute Law (Repeals) Measure – Revision and Final Drafting / Final Approval
4.30 pm Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure – Revision and Final Drafting / Final Approval
4.55 pm Phase II Simplification Measure – First Consideration
5.55 pm Draft Amending Canon No.38 – First Consideration
6.25 pm Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Amendment Regulations 2017
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Wednesday 15 February
  9.15 am – 12.30 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Motion from the Bishop of Leicester for a proposal for a Petition to Her Majesty in Council for the creation of a suffragan see for the Diocese of Leicester
10.00 am Appointment to the Archbishops’ Council
10.15 am Diocesan Synod Motion on “Fixed Odds Betting Terminals”
  (Legislative Business ctd…)
11.30 am The Church of England Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2017
*12.00 pm Introduction to the work of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality
  2.00 – 4.30 pm
2.00 – 4.30 pm Group work
  5.30 pm – 7.00 pm
5.30 pm Take Note Debate on a Report from the House of Bishops
7.00 – 7.15 pm Evening worship
Thursday 16 February
  9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Worship
9.30 am Farewell to the Bishop of London
9.45 am Speech by The Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon – Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
10.15 am “Setting God’s People Free”: Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Legislative Business (ctd…)
12.15 pm The Safeguarding (Clergy Risk Assessment) Regulations 2016
  2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

Legislative Business (ctd…)
2.30 pm Amending Canon No. 36 - Canons B 8 – Revision Stage
3.20 pm Amending Canon No. 37 – Canon B 38 – Revision Stage
*5.00 pm Prorogation

Deemed Business
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016

Contingency Business
Private Members’ Motion on “Mission and Administration”

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Friday, 16 December 2016

Trouble at York Minster - today's developments

Updated Saturday evening and Sunday evening

We reported in October that York Minster’s team of bell-ringers had been disbanded.

The last few days have seen reports that the Minster has been having difficulties recruiting temporary bell-ringers to ring over Christmas, eg The Guardian and The Telegraph.

The Minster has today issued a statement giving more details of their decision to disband the bell-ringers, as reported here by Minster FM: Minster claims there’s been “intimidation” over Bellringer row.

York Minster says bellringers who’ve offered to step in to help the cathedral have suffered intimidation on social media and in the local media.

In a statement from The Chapter of York they also claim at least one member has been threatened with legal action.

They say despite this, they’re still exploring options for the ringing at Christmas and hope those wanting to volunteer will be able to approach them without the fear of intimidation.

The Minster statement in full also goes over the details of why this situation happened which were reported in the media back in September [sic] …

The article goes on to quote the Minster statement in full.

John Bingham also reports on this story for The Telegraph: York Minster bell-ringers sacked over stance on ‘ongoing’ abuse risk to children.

York Minster’s team of bell-ringers were disbanded because they refused to accept that a leading member of their group had been assessed as presenting an “ongoing risk” of child abuse, the minster’s governing body has said…

In what amounts to the most detailed explanation of the saga to date, they made clear that the apparently sudden decision to disband the 30-strong ringing team in October was just the “culmination” of weeks of discussion about the issue…

Updates (Saturday evening)
The York ringers have issued a statement in response to that of the Dean and Chapter, denying any suggestion of intimidation. They continue to put their side of the story and again ask the Dean and Chapter to discuss the matter with them so that it can be resolved. Their statement can be read here.

(Sunday evening)
Archbishop Cranmer Peace on earth and good will to all men – except the sacked bell-ringers of York Minster

Because of the nature of this story we ask all commenters to be especially careful in what they write. Comments containing ad hominem remarks will not be published.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Statement from the College & House of Bishops

Press release from the Church of England

Statement from the College & House of Bishops
13 December 2016

The College of Bishops of the Church of England met at Lambeth Palace on Monday 12th December.

The meeting began with a service of Holy Communion and reflections from the Archbishop of York. Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a process of episcopal discernment which began in September and continued at the meeting of the House of Bishops in November.

The college discussed the reflections of the House from their November meeting and also received an update from the Chair of the Bishops Reflection Group on Sexuality.

As with the meeting of the College of Bishops in September and the meeting of the House of Bishops in November the discussions took place in private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the meetings beyond their own views.

The Bishops agreed to consult the General Synod in February as well as updating Synod as to where their discussions had reached. More information will be available when those consultative materials have been prepared in January 2017.

The meeting closed with evening prayer and reflections from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The House of Bishops met at Lambeth Palace on Tuesday 13th December. A full and diverse agenda included substantial discussions on safeguarding, discussions on Renewal and Reform activity - including lay discipleship, simplification legislation and resourcing - and ecumenical issues as well as considerations of work with student groups.

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Church Representation Rules 2017

Updated 13 Dec 2016

A new edition of the Church Representation Rules of the Church of England has been published: Church Representation Rules 2017. The previous edition was dated 2011.

The rules are available online, but it should be noted that the changes made in July 2014 are not yet included there. These changes are contained in The Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution 2014 (SI 2014 No. 2113). So far as I am aware these are the only changes since 2011. See second comment below for other changes.

Nearly all the changes made in 2014 related to elections to General Synod. There were also some amendments to the forms in Appendix I to make it explicit in each case that only lay persons are entitled to be entered on the church electoral roll.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in Pemberton case

Updated with diocesan press release

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has today issued its judgement in the case of The Revd Canon Jeremy Pemberton versus the Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, The Rt Revd Richard Inwood.

The full text - approaching 20,000 words - of the judgement can be found here (.doc format), or over here (.pdf format) or here as a web page.

There is a summary included in the full text which is reproduced below the fold. Note that the cross-appeals from the Church of England were also rejected by the court.

Here is a press release from Jeremy Pemberton:

Statement after Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling

I would like to thank HHJ Eady QC for the obvious care that she took to consider properly the novel and complex issues of law raised by my appeal. The result is, obviously, not the one my husband and I had hoped for. I appreciate that this case was a source of hope for many people and I am grateful that the judge has recognised its significance and indicated that its importance warrants permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

I am now going to take some time to consider the lengthy judgment with my husband, and we will decide on the best way forward, having taken advice from my lawyers. I would like to thank Laurence for his unwavering love and support throughout this process, my legal team of Sean Jones QC, Helen Trotter, the Worshipful Justin Gau, and Susanna Rynehart of Thomson Snell & Passmore – all of whom have been acting pro bono since 2015 – my family, friends and all those who have supported me thus far. I will not be making any further comment at present.

Here is a press release from the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham:

Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling

For the second time, a tribunal has found in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him by Jeremy Pemberton.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal in London upheld the decisions made by the Employment Tribunal held in Nottingham last year.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds and we remain fully engaged in the Church’s exploration of questions relating to human sexuality.

“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. It has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships, as set out in the House of Bishops guidelines in 2006.

“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all those concerned, and we hold them in our thoughts and prayers.”

SUMMARY

SEX DISCRIMINATION – Marital status

SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION

HARASSMENT

Discrimination – marital status – sexual orientation

Qualifications bodies – relevant qualification – sections 53 and 54 Equality Act 2010

Exceptions from liability – religious requirements relating to marriage – schedule 9 paragraph 2 Equality Act 2010

Harassment – section 26 Equality Act 2010

The Claimant is a Church of England Priest who married his long-term partner. This was a marriage between two persons of the same sex, made permissible by virtue of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the enactment of which the Church of England had opposed. As a result of this marriage, the Respondent revoked the Claimant’s Permission to Officiate (“PTO”) and refused to grant him an Extra Parochial Ministry Licence (“EPML”), which he needed to be able to take up a post as Chaplain in an NHS Trust. The Claimant brought ET proceedings, complaining of unlawful direct discrimination because of sexual orientation and/or marital status and of unlawful harassment related to sexual orientation, his claims being brought under section 53 Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”) which applies to qualifications bodies, as defined by section 54(2) EqA. The Respondent denied he was a qualifications body but, in the alternative, contended that any relevant qualifications (defined by section 54(3)) were for the purposes of employment for the purposes of an organised religion, falling within the exemption allowed by schedule 9 paragraph 2 of the EqA and he had applied the requirement that the Claimant not be in a same sex marriage because that was incompatible with the doctrine of the Church of England in relation to marriage (“the compliance principle”). The claim of harassment was further denied on its facts.

The ET found the Respondent’s refusal to grant the EPML did fall under section 53 EqA and was a “relevant qualification” within the meaning of section 54. That was not the case, however, in respect of the revocation of the Claimant’s PTO. The ET further held, however, that the EPML qualification was for the purposes of employment for the purposes of an organised religion and the compliance principle was engaged; thus the Respondent was exempt from liability by reason of paragraph 2 of schedule 9 of the EqA. As for the harassment claim, although the Claimant was caused distress by the Respondent’s conduct, which he found humiliating and degrading, this did not amount to harassment. Context was everything. The Claimant would not have experienced that (admittedly, unwanted) conduct if he had not defied the doctrine of the Church. Moreover, the Respondent had acted lawfully pursuant to schedule 9; it would be an affront to justice if his conduct was found to constitute harassment.

Upon the Claimant’s appeal and the Respondent’s cross-appeal.

Held: dismissing both the appeal and cross-appeal

The ET had correctly held that the EPML was a relevant qualification (and the Respondent thus a qualifications body) for the purposes of sections 53 and 54 EqA; the Respondent’s cross-appeal against this finding was dismissed. Equally, however, the ET had been entitled to find that the PTO was not a relevant qualification: it would not have “facilitated” the grant of the EPML on the facts of this case; it was the Claimant’s lack of “good standing” within the Church of England that underpinned the Respondent’s decision in respect of both.

The ET had further reached a permissible conclusion that the qualification was for the purposes of employment for the purposes of an organised religion, notwithstanding that the employer would have been the NHS Trust and not the Church. The Trust required its Chaplain to have an EPML for the purpose of carrying out the ministry of the Church of England; that was the purpose of the qualification and the employment. As for the doctrines of the Church, this referred to the teachings and beliefs of the religion and the ET had been entitled to find these were as stated by Canon B30 (“marriage is … a union … of one man with one woman …”), evidenced, in particular, by the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The Respondent had applied a requirement that the Claimant not be in a same sex marriage so as to comply with the doctrines of the Church; it was not fatal to the ET’s conclusion in that regard that a different Bishop might not have done the same.

As for the harassment claim, the ET had permissibly found that the particular context of this case was highly significant and meant that it was not reasonable for the Respondent’s conduct to have the effect required to meet the definition of harassment under section 26 EqA. The Claimant had been aware that his marriage would mean that he would not be seen as in “good standing” within the Church of England. The Respondent’s decision was exempt from liability by reason of schedule 9 and there were no aggravating features arising from his decision or its communication. These were relevant factors to which the ET was entitled to have regard.

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Friday, 25 November 2016

GAFCON UK responds to William Nye letter

Updated Saturday evening

This new 1400-word article has appeared today on the GAFCON UK website: Secretary-General’s letter shows why GAFCON UK is needed.

Harry Farley has reported on it: CofE More Worried About ‘Twitter Mobs’ Than ‘What Is Right Before God’ Over Sexuality – GAFCON.

Zachary Giuliano had earlier helpfully noted over here that

… if one follows the news through, it seems that the GAFCON UK statements are being coordinated partly by Canon Andrew Gross. He is listed as the “media contact” or “press officer” for GAFCON, and has responded to criticisms of the statement. But his “day job,” as it were, is as canon for communications and media relations in ACNA, and he sometimes travels with Archbishop Foley Beach, as photos on Beach’s Facebook page and various stories attest. We have yet another sign of American Anglican conservative leadership (of a particular sort) attempting to shape attitudes throughout the Communion…

As references are being made to the process by which the Lambeth 1.10 resolution came into existence, I thought it might be useful to link to my original reporting of Lambeth 1998 which consists of a series of 22 near-daily and quite detailed reports written as the conference proceeded.

Update
And, here is the statement that was issued on 5 August, immediately following the passage of the resolution: A Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans from Some Member Bishops of the Lambeth Conference. Eventually this attracted 185 signatures, including many of those who had voted in favour of the resolution.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

report from House of Bishops on today's meeting

Statement from the House of Bishops

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met at Lambeth Palace on Wednesday 23 November.

The formal meeting was preceded by a Eucharist where the Bishops remembered St Clement. Prayers were said for those across the globe who are persecuted for their faith, victims of religious violence and those with responsibility for Government.

The meeting received an update on the work of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in September 2016 to assist the process of consideration.

As with the meeting of the College of Bishops in September, the considerations of the House of Bishops took place in private, with reflections due to be shared with the wider College of Bishops next month.

It is envisaged the House will prepare material to bring to the General Synod for initial consideration in February 2017.

Ends

Notes to Editors

Background on #RedWednesday and those persecuted for their faith
http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2016/11/faith-communities-unite-on-red-wednesday-for-victims-of-religious-persecution.aspx

St Clement: http://www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/saints-on-earth

Statement following the College of Bishops in September 2016
https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2016/09/statement-from-the-college-of-bishops.aspx

Announcement of membership and terms of reference of Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality
https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2016/09/bishops%E2%80%99-reflection-group-on-human-sexuality.aspx

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Lord Carlile named as independent reviewer in George Bell case

Updated Wednesday morning to add press reports

Church of England press release

Lord Carlile named as independent reviewer in George Bell case
22 November 2016

Lord Carlile of Berriew has been named as the independent reviewer of the processes used in the Bishop George Bell case. The lessons learnt review, commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidance on all complex cases, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

The aim of the review will be to look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013. It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future. The full Terms of Reference are set out below.

Lord Carlile CBE QC is a Member of the House of Lords, having served as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament from 1983-1997. He was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation between 2001 and 2011. He has a strong interest in cyber-related issues especially regarding National Security. (see full biography below). An executive summary of the review will be published once Lord Carlile has completed his work.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead bishop on safeguarding, said: “I am grateful to Lord Carlile for agreeing to undertake the review, which will take a detailed look into how the Church handled the George Bell case; as with all serious cases there are always lessons to be learnt. The Church of England takes all safeguarding issues very seriously and we will continue to listen to everyone affected in this case while we await the findings of the review. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations.”

[continued below the fold]

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England appoints Lord Carlile to review George Bell claim

John Bingham The Telegraph Ex-terror reviewer Lord Carlile to re-examine Bishop Bell sex abuse decision

BBC News Bishop George Bell case: Lord Carlile to lead review

Chichester Observer Top QC will review the Bishop George Bell case

[press release continued]

NOTES

Previous statements

October 2015: Statement on George Bell

June 2016: Announcement of independent review

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Background

In October 2015, the Church of England released a statement to say that the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, had apologised following a settlement regarding allegations of child sexual abuse by George Bell in the 1940s and 1950s. George Bell was Bishop of Chichester for 29 years until shortly before his death in 1958. The response to the announcement has included criticisms of the Church and its handling of the case from a range of individuals.

The House of Bishops Practice Guidance “Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations Relating to Church Officers” (May 2015) states;

Once all matters relating to a serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet to review the process against this and other Practice Guidance, and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future safeguarding situations

In June 2016, the Church of England announced that it would be undertaking an independent review into how the case was managed and the key processes involved in the decision-making.

Objectives of the review

To provide the Church of England with a review which, having examined relevant documents and interviewed all relevant people, ensures that:

1. Lessons are learnt from past practice
2. Survivors are listened to and taken seriously, and are supported
3. Good practice is identified and disseminated
4. Recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.

Scope of the review

The review will cover the following periods:

1995, when the complainant first wrote to the then Bishop of Chichester and the actions taken by the Church of England as a result of this complaint
2012 when the complainant wrote to Lambeth Palace and the actions taken by the Church of England as a result of this complaint
2013 when the complainant wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the actions taken by the Church as a result of this complaint
2013 onwards when the case was managed across the National Church, Lambeth Palace and the Diocese of Chichester, notably via a Core Group.

The review will consider the adequacy of the responses to the complainant and the subsequent decision making processes and action taken, in the context of the safeguarding policies and procedures in place at the time.

The reviewer will be given access to all the evidence pertaining to how the decisions were reached: firstly, that the claim should be settled and, secondly that a public announcement should be made. This will include access to relevant medical information and reports which formed part of the settlement process (with the consent of the complainant).

The reviewer will call for any material submissions or submissions connected to this case, which will be facilitated through the establishment of a website designated to the review.

The person or persons undertaking the review will seek to interview key members of the core group and other individuals deemed by the reviewer to be appropriate.

The review will provide a detailed evidence-based analysis of the responses and decision making processes concerning the case.

Undertaking the review

The review will be carried out by an independent person who has not had a connection with the case and its management, nor with the Diocese of Chichester.

The review will be carried out by someone or persons with either extensive legal and/or safeguarding experience of cases involving the alleged sexual abuse of children. A separate specification document will be agreed outlining this in more detail.

The reviewer will produce a report, relevant sections of which shall be seen by those who directly contributed to the process for comment about factual accuracy, before it is finalised.

The reviewer will produce an executive summary, which will be published to support the dissemination of learning. The executive summary shall exclude any material which might enable the complainant’s identity to be deduced.

The Church of England will determine whether the full report can be sufficiently redacted or otherwise anonymised to enable its publication without risking disclosure of the complainant’s identity.

BIOGRAPHY- Lord Carlile of Berriew C.B.E., Q.C.

Alex Carlile was born in Wales in 1948. After education at Epsom College he graduated LLB AKC at King’s College London. Lord Carlile was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn (where he is now a Bencher) in 1970 and became a Q.C. in 1984, at the age of 36. Until 2009 he was the Honorary Recorder of the City of Hereford. He sits as a Recorder of the Crown Court, as a Deputy High Court Judge, and as a Chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Between 2001-2011, he was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation; the Independent Reviewer of the Government’s new PREVENT policy and remains the independent reviewer of National Security policy in Northern Ireland.

From 1983-1997 he was the Liberal (then Liberal Democrat) MP for Montgomeryshire in Mid Wales. During that time he served as spokesperson on a range of issues, including Home Affairs and the Law. He was Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 1992-7.

He was appointed a Life Peer in 1999 and was awarded the CBE in 2012 for services to national security.

Lord Carlile is involved in numerous charities, including the Royal Medical Foundation of Epsom College, and The White Ensign Association. He has a particular interest in mental health issues, and was a co-founder of the Welsh charity Rekindle. He is the Chairman of the Lloyd’s of London Enforcement Board and is a non-executive director of a listed major agricultural merchanting company, Wynnstay Group plc. He is chairman of the not for profit company Design for Homes and is a founder director of SC Strategy Ltd, a strategy and public policy consultancy.

Lord Carlile is the President of The Security Institute, a Fellow of King’s College London, and a Fellow of the Industry and Parliament Trust. He holds Honorary Doctorates of Laws in universities in Manchester, Wales and Hungary.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 at 12:05am GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Cof E responds to GAFCON UK

Church of England press release

Secretary General responds to GAFCON UK

22 November 2016

William Nye, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, has today sent the following letter to the Revd Canon Andy Lines, Chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force in response to the briefing paper, ‘The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10’.

Dear Andy

I have seen a paper entitled, “The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10”, produced by GAFCON UK and dated 13 November, which is described as a briefing to GAFCON Primates. It purports to be an account of “the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes and teaching on sexual ethics.”

The paper paints a significantly misleading picture both of the teaching and practice of the Church of England, and of Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. I am writing to correct some of the erroneous assertions.

Resolution 1:10 of Lambeth 1998

Resolution 1:10 is one of over 90 Resolutions approved by the Lambeth Conference in 1998. It expressed the will of that Conference. Like all Lambeth Conference resolutions, it is not legally binding on all provinces of the Communion, including the Church of England, though it commends an essential and persuasive view of the attitude of the Communion.

Resolution 1:10 sets out teaching on marriage, as being between a man and a woman, and teaching on abstinence outside marriage. It sets out teaching on homosexual practice. It commits the Conference to listening to the experience of homosexual persons, assures them they are loved by God, and condemns irrational fear of homosexuals. It says nothing about discipline within provinces of the Anglican Communion; the Lambeth Conference has no jurisdiction to do so.

The Resolution is an important document in the history of the Anglican Communion. It is not the only important resolution, from that Conference or others. It does not have the force of Scripture, nor is it part of the deposit of faith. The key elements for the Communion are those within the Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Teaching and practice in the Church of England

The teaching of the Church of England on matters relating to same-sex practice and unions is, and remains, as set out in the document issued by the Church’s House of Bishops in 1991, “Issues in Human Sexuality”. That document pre-dates the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and is consistent with the resolution 1:10 of the Conference. Subsequent refinement of the teaching by the House of Bishops, as in guidance documents issued when the British State introduced civil partnerships and then (civil) same-sex marriage, has not changed the fundamental substance of that teaching.

When the Government proposed to introduce same-sex (civil) marriage the Church of England argued against it, including in Parliament.

Previously in 2004 the majority of our bishops had voted for legalising civil partnerships when that legislation made its way through parliament.

English law now provides for same-sex civil marriage, and for Christian denominations other than the Church of England or Church in Wales to opt into providing same-sex marriage if they wish to. There is no provision in English law for same-sex marriage in Church of England churches. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 - the Act of the UK Parliament which introduced same-sex marriage in England and other parts of the UK - expressly leaves intact the Church of England’s Canon which defines marriage as “in its nature a union permanent and lifelong … of one man with one woman”. And although the Act changes the definition of marriage in English law generally, those changes do not apply to any ecclesiastical law of the Church of England (Canon B.30).

At present, the House of Bishops is reflecting on conversations across the Church on same-sex issues. But at this point no change has been made to teaching, nor has there been any formal proposal to do so.

The great majority of the clergy and laity of the Church of England have adhered to the teaching and guidance as taught by the House of Bishops, which is consistent with Lambeth 1:10.

You describe a number of issues as being “violations” of Lambeth 1:10. For many of these, I would venture to suggest that they are not “violations” - though, as noted above, Lambeth Conference Resolutions do not provide a binding discipline on member provinces of the Communion. For example:

clergy in the Church of England are indeed permitted to enter into civil partnerships (which are legally not the same as marriage, and therefore have no bearing on the doctrine of marriage);

clergy in the Church of England are permitted to offer prayers of support on a pastoral basis for people in same-sex relationships;

churches are able to indicate that they welcome LGBTI people, just as they would welcome all people;

clergy and laity alike are entitled to argue for changes to teaching and practice.

There have undoubtedly been cases of people in the Church of England who have not kept to the teaching as set out in “Issues in Human Sexuality”. I will not comment on such individual cases. I do not believe it is appropriate to debate these publicly. What matters is not whether they are “violating Lambeth 1:10”, which as noted above has no binding legal force. What matters is the position under the Canons (for the clergy) and the broader law and teaching of the Church of England for the laity. It is not the case that no discipline has been applied to clergy who, in violation of their duties under the Canons, have entered same-sex civil marriages. How discipline in the Church of England is applied is a matter for the Bishops of the Church.

I hope that this will give you and readers of the paper a clearer picture of the state of teaching and practice in the Church of England.

Best wishes

William

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 November 2016 at 7:37pm GMT | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 November 2016

AMiE and GAFCON UK - what's the connection?

The GAFCON UK website explains the connection here:

…Through affiliation to GAFCON UK, Christians in the British Isles will be connected with this global movement for renewal and mission with its spiritual vitality and evangelistic zeal, doctrinal clarity, wisdom and faithfulness under pressure. As GAFCON is not a new independent church or a rival to the Anglican Communion, membership of GAFCON UK is compatible with being a loyal member of Anglican churches in England, Scotland and Wales while our national churches remain orthodox in their official teachings and policies.

However, those who are concerned about the apparent drift of their denomination can rest secure that whatever happens, there is no need to leave Anglicanism, which is validated not from a human office or place, but from faithfulness to its historic self-understanding. The GAFCON Primates Council stands ready to authenticate those who wish to remain Anglican, but if necessary outside local institutional structures: this has already started with the establishment of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE)…

The Anglican Mission in England website explains itself thus:

…A variety of Anglican churches are part of AMiE. Some churches are outside the structures of the Church of England. Others remain within the denomination but are experiencing tensions, whilst others have joined to support them…

And there is a list of (currently seven) local churches here.

According to this page:

AMiE is a registered charity (number 1158679) and has an Executive Committee. Andy Lines is the General Secretary of AMiE and Justin Mote is Chair of the Executive Committee.

According to another page on the same site:

AMiE is governed by an Executive Committee consisting of:

Revd Canon Andy Lines (Chairman and Director/Trustee)
Rt Revd John Ellison (Chair of Panel of Bishops)
Revd Canon Tim Davies
Revd Lee McMunn (Mission Director)
Mr. Brian O’Donoghue (Secretary and Director/Trustee)
Revd Jonathan Pryke

All the members of the Executive are required to hold a ‘complementarian (Equal and Different)’ position on women’s ministry, but AMiE will support all churches who hold to the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.

GAFCON UK says:

GAFCON UK is led by a Task Group, whose members are:

  • Revd Canon Andy Lines, Mission Director, Crosslinks and Chairman, AMiE
  • Mrs Lorna Ashworth, Archbishop’s Council
  • Mr Daniel Leafe, lay member, Fowey Parish Church
  • Revd James Paice, Vicar, St Luke’s Wimbledon Park
  • Revd Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream

GAFCON UK is overseen by an advisory Panel of Reference:

  • Fr. Gavin Ashenden, Chaplain to H.M. the Queen
  • Revd Canon Amatu Christian-Iwuagwu, Vicar, St Mary Harmondsworth
  • Miss Prudence Dailey, Member of General Synod and Oxford Diocesan Synod
  • Rt Revd John Fenwick, Bishop Primus of the Free Church of England
  • Fr. Martin Hislop, Vicar, St Luke’s, Kingston
  • Revd Canon Nigel Juckes, Priest in Charge, Llandogo, Church in Wales (formerly Chair, New Wine South Africa)
  • Revd David McCarthy, Vicar, St Thomas’, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Revd Paul Perkin, Vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise
  • Revd Vaughan Roberts, Rector, St Ebbe’s, Oxford
  • Ven. Will Strange, Archdeacon of Cardigan, Church in Wales
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 November 2016 at 12:52pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Bishop of Salisbury responds to GAFCON UK

Updated Sunday morning

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, wrote a letter which was published in the Church Times this week. The full text is available on the Salisbury diocesan website: Letter to the Church Times, November 2016 and is copied below.

The Church Times also carried this report of the GAFCON UK letter and reactions to it: Listing ‘violators’ of Lambeth Conference resolution is ‘outrageous’, says Bishop.

From the Bishop of Salisbury

Sir, — The GAFCON Statement of 13 November about Lambeth I.10 is outrageous.

First, “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are. . .” When Jesus attacked people he thought were in error, there is not a single instance when he named an individual. To name individuals in this statement is wrong, creates a climate of fear, and opens them to personal abuse.

Second, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” There is a great deal of inaccuracy in the GAFCON statement. The priest named from this diocese is not licensed, as they say he is. He has carried the cost of conscience personally. The blessing of Gay Pride in Salisbury was a joyful celebration of a people who are part of our community and among the rich diversity of all God’s children. This is in keeping with Lambeth I.10, which calls us “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.”

Third, “Love your enemies.” GAFCON may think that the people named represent a serious error, but the way in which they are misrepresented is not the way for followers of Jesus, who usually want to represent opponents truthfully and see the best possible motives in others, not the worst.

Fifth*, “Do as you would be done by.” Lambeth I.10 also contained statements about the way Provinces relate to one another. Nothing is said about GAFCON’s own repeated violations of these. Lambeth I.10 also acknowledged the Bishops’ inability to come to a common mind on the scriptural, theological, historical, and scientific questions which are raised. “The challenge to our Church is to maintain its unity while we seek, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discern the way of Christ for the world today with respect to human sexuality. To do so will require sacrifice, trust and charity towards one another, remembering that ultimately the identity of each person is defined by Christ.”

For myself, I learned a long time ago that where you stand affects what you can see. In 2002, at the retirement of a colleague, I stood with 800 others in church to give thanks for the ministry of a gay priest who had exercised an outstanding ministry for 40 years among students, homeless people, and several parishes and congregations.

As the Diocesan Bishop’s Adviser on Pastoral Care, he had cared for many clergy, and had a particular ministry among gay people. Though the institutional Church has at times seemed to find their very existence an “inconvenient truth”, God made LGBT people, loves them, and preserves them. I knew I belonged with the people who gathered in church that evening, and Christ was with us.

+ NICHOLAS SARUM

* Note – this is an error introduced by the Church Times in-house drafting process.

Update

Hear the bishop and Andy Lines on this morning’s Sunday programme here (36 minutes in).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 19 November 2016 at 1:13pm GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

GAFCON UK issues Lambeth 1.10 hitlist

Updated yet again Tuesday 22 November

Update GAFCON UK has today issued this further document The Lambeth I:10 Briefing: Process and Motive, Truth and Love which seeks to justify the original statement.

—————

This statement from GAFCON UK was issued on Sunday: The Church of England and Lambeth 1:10.

This paper was recently presented as a briefing to the GAFCON Primates on the situation in the Church of England regarding attitudes, teaching and practice on sexual ethics, official and unofficial. It argues that the Church of England has already ‘crossed the line’ by allowing a culture to develop where violations of Lambeth Resolution 1:10 are increasingly prevalent. It is published with permission…

The document has been reported on by Christian Today Row Over Release Of Gay Clergy List and now also with this: Gafcon Gay Clergy List Prompts Hundreds To Sign ‘Proud List Of Violators’

and by Premier Radio GAFCON defends decision to release list of gay Church of England clergy.

LGCM has issued a press release condemning the document: LGCM condemns GAFCON’s attempt to shame LGBT Christians.

Jeremy Pemberton has commented on his personal blog You know who you are.

Rachel Mann has also commented on her blog Dear Anonymous UK GAFCON Guy.

The LGBTI Mission has also issued a condemnation of the GAFCON UK action: Lambeth 1.10 hitlist condemned.

And there is now a website where people can sign up to be on record as “violators” or “supporters”.

Law & Religion UK has an article too: GAFCON, Lambeth I:10 and the Church of England.

Andrew Lightbown has written on his blog: An open letter to GAFCON: not good enough.

LGCM now also has this: Introducing the Inaugural LGCM/GAFCON Rainbow List: let’s help them do the job properly!

One of those named in the original GAFCON UK article has sent us this response:

Dear Editor

Waking up on Tuesday morning to find myself on a list of “named and shamed” by GAFCON UK was a bit of a surprise. The fact that they are presumptuous enough to ‘out’ someone’s theology without engaging with them or even checking their facts properly is extraordinary. A few months ago I asked to have a cup of tea with a member of GAFCON UK to correct their assumptions and discuss biblical interpretations. This priest sadly refused to meet me. I find that action alone so deeply ungracious and disrespectful. How can we try to evangelize a loving God when the clergy cannot even demonstrate decent human courtesy to one another?

Yours,
The Rev’d Charlotte Bannister-Parker
The University Church
Oxford

Readers may be interested to note that GAFCON UK has made a number of corrections to the original text of the article, which are noted in a large number of additional footnotes.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 at 11:00am GMT | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Statistics for Mission 2015

Updated Friday

The Church of England has issued its Statistics for Mission 2015 today. There is no accompanying press release, but the document includes this executive summary.

2015 Church of England participation summary

  • On average, 961,000 people (85% adults, 15% children under 16) attended Church of England services and acts of worship each week in October 2015. A further 165,000 people attended services for schools in Church of England churches each week.
  • Usual Sunday attendance at Church of England churches in 2015 was 752,000 people (86% adults, 14% children under 16).
  • The worshipping community of Church of England churches in 2015 was 1.1 million people, of whom 20% were aged under 18, 50% were aged 18-69, and 30% were aged 70 or over.
  • 1.3 million people attended Church of England churches at Easter 2015 (of whom 71% received communion).
  • 2.5 million people attended Church of England churches at Christmas 2015 (of whom 35% received communion). During Advent, 2.3 million people attended special services for the congregation and local community, and 2.7 million people attended special services for civic organisations and schools.
  • There were 124,000 Church of England baptisms and services of thanksgiving for the gift of a child during 2015.
  • There were 47,000 Church of England marriages and services of prayer and dedication after civil marriages during 2015.
  • There were 84,000 funerals in Church of England churches, and a further 65,000 funerals at crematoria/cemeteries during 2015.

Trends in participation

  • Over recent decades, attendance at Church of England church services has gradually fallen. These trends continued in 2015. Most key measures of attendance have fallen by between 10% and 15% over the past 10 years.
  • Although the overall pattern is one of gradual decline, this masks the differences in experience in individual parishes over the past 10 years. In 53% of parishes there has been no statistically significant change in attendance. In 10% of parishes attendance has increased. In 37% of parishes attendance has decreased.

Update

There is now a press release, 2015 Attendance Statistics published, copied below the fold.

Hattie Williams Church Times Church has ‘a strong base to work from’ despite further fall in numbers

John Bingham The Telegraph British families only attend church at Christmas, new figures suggest

Steve Doughty Mail Online Church of England loses one in seven Sunday worshippers in just a decade as new figures confirm a steep decline in the ranks of the Anglican faith

Archdruid Eileen Liturgy of the Calculation of the Attendance Figures

More updates

Will Worley Independent Church of England loses more than 100,000 worshipers in a decade

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Why Do People Stop Going To Church? Church of England Fails To Halt Decline

2015 Attendance Statistics published
27 October 2016

New Church of England statistics for 2015, published today, show that just under one million people attend services each week. The survey, carried out over four weeks in October 2015, found 960,000 people attending church each week, with 820,000 adults and 140,000 children. Schools services added a further 160,000 attenders.

The total worshipping community of churches across the Church of England, the report says, was 1,142,000 people, of whom 20% were aged under 18, 50% were aged 18-69 and 30% were aged 70 or over.

Figures also show that 2.5 million attended a Church of England Church at Christmas in 2015 and 1.3 million people attended a service at Easter. Additionally, 2.3 million people attended special Advent services for the congregation and local community, whilst 2.7 million attended special Advent services for civic organisations and schools.

In 2015, the Church carried out just under 1,000 weddings, 2,000 baptisms, and almost 3,000 funerals every week of the year. Attendances at these services are not recorded but conservative estimates of 50 at each of those 6000 services would add up to 300,000 attendances each week or more than 15 million each year.

Some 11% of births during 2015 were marked by a Church of England infant baptism or thanksgiving service whilst 30% of deaths were marked by a Church of England funeral.

As a whole the figures represent a continuing trend that has shown an 11% decrease in attendance over the past decade with an average decline of just over 1% a year.

A one-off question for 2015 asked churches about the facilities they provide. The responses suggest that nearly half now have kitchen facilities and more than 60% have toilets. The 16,000 churches of the Church of England serve communities in a range of different ways, including full-or part-time shops in 212 of them and post offices in 152.

William Nye, Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, said: “The Church of England is setting out on a journey of Renewal & Reform, aiming to reverse our numerical decline in attendance so that we become a growing church in every region and for every generation.

“The Church of England is open to and for everyone in England, building up the Body of Christ and working for the common good. For some of those who support our work, weekly attendance at services is part of their discipleship. There will be many others, as we know from the Census, who identify with us but who worship on a less regular basis.

“These figures represent a realistic assessment of where we start from in terms of weekly attendance. We are confident in a hopeful future where our love of God and service of neighbour will form the basis for future growth.

“Statistics for Mission provides an invaluable foundation for this and demonstrates that the Church, fully aware of where we are yet confident of the future, still has a strong base to work from.”

The statistics are available at: https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3331683/2015statisticsformission.pdf

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 27 October 2016 at 10:19pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?

Harry Farley of Christian Today reports on a New Poll: Are Churches Welcoming Towards LGBT People?

The question whether gay people are accepted in church has dogged Christian leaders for decades.

But a new poll out on Thursday reveals the same proportion of people think gay people are welcome in UK churches as those who think they are unwelcome. A YouGov poll highlighted that 30 per cent of Brits believe churches are welcoming towards gay people with 33 per cent saying they are not welcoming.

Younger people were more likely to think LGBT people are unwelcome in church, with 38 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds saying churches were not hospitable to gay people and 36 per cent of 25 to 49-year-olds agreeing. Those over 60 were almost twice as likely to think the LGBT community was welcome in church than unwelcome…

The Church of England Newspaper has also looked at the poll: Public don’t believe the Church offers a welcome to all in society.

The poll was commissioned by Jayne Ozanne, who has issued this press release:

Status of established church queried as poll reveals few believe Church of England serves whole nation.

Less than half of British adults believe that the Church of England is there for everyone, with only a third of adults believing UK Christian churches are welcoming towards the LGBTI community.

A recent YOUGOV poll has shown that only 47% of British adults agree that the Church of England is there for everyone who wants to go to Church. Of equal concern is the fact that less than a third (30%) believe that Christian Churches are welcoming towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community…

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

The full results of the poll can be viewed here.

STATUS OF ESTABLISHED CHURCH QUERIED AS POLL REVEALS FEW BELIEVE CHURCH OF ENGLAND SERVES WHOLE NATION.

LESS THAN HALF OF BRITISH ADULTS BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS THERE FOR EVERYONE, WITH ONLY A THIRD OF ADULTS BELIEVING UK CHRISTIAN CHURCHES ARE WELCOMING TOWARDS THE LGBTI COMMUNITY.

A recent YOUGOV poll has shown that only 47% of British adults agree that the Church of England is there for everyone who wants to go to Church. Of equal concern is the fact that less than a third (30%) believe that Christian Churches are welcoming towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community.

Christian LGBT campaigner, Jayne Ozanne, who commissioned the research said:

“What is of greatest concern is the fact it is those who the Church is most keen to reach – the young and those of “no religion” - who believe that the Church is not there for everyone, and that they are not welcoming to the LGBT community. If the Church is serious about its commitment to mission, it needs to heed the concerns and perceptions of those it wants to attract, otherwise no one will want to listen.”

Commenting further, the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said: “A national church should serve the whole nation, irrespective of creed, colour, class - and identity. It is a tragedy for our mission and ministry that the Church of England continues to denigrate and discriminate against lesbian, gay and transgendered people. The church cannot afford to cling to its establishment whilst colluding with its own institutional homophobia, and also continually capitulate to reactionary conservative lobby-groups. The manifest injustice of this will continue to impede all efforts to evangelise future generations, and will consign the church to an inevitable irrelevance.”

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, who has been a key advocate for LGBT equality added:

“The Church of England must learn to listen to those it seeks to serve.  It is interesting to note those who are most likely to think that the Church is there for everyone and that it is welcoming are Christian conservatives over the age of 50 – our traditional heartland.  However, if we want to be a national church for everyone we need to understand and respond to the concerns people have, and recognise the fact that many think we are not there for them.”

The research was commissioned to understand how national perceptions towards the Church of England are changing, particularly in the light of its attitude towards the LGBT community. It follows a question on October 13th 2016 in the House of Commons by Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, to the Second Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, regarding the pastoral care of LGBT people in the Church of England in which she stated:

“Does (the Second Estates Commissioner) agree that now is the time for those of us who are Christian but not of the LGBT community to give more careful consideration to these issues?”

With less than half (47%) of those who identified as Anglican and just over a third (37%) of those identifying as Roman Catholics believing that Christian Churches are welcoming to the LGBT community, it appears that many are starting to do just that.

NOTES

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,669 adults (of which 415 identified as Anglican and 120 identified as Catholic). Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 12th October 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Full results of the survey can be viewed here.

2. Susan Elan Jones MP question to the Second Estates Commissioner can be viewed here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 27 October 2016 at 6:22pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 23 October 2016

Bishop of Ripon to retire

The Diocese of Leeds has announced today that the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, is to retire on 30 April 2017.

The full text of the diocesan announcement is below the fold.

Bishop of Ripon to retire

It has been announced that the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, is to retire on 30 April 2017.

James Bell has been Bishop of Ripon since the creation of the new Diocese of Leeds in 2014. He was previously suffragan Bishop of Knaresborough in the former Diocese of Ripon & Leeds.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, says, “Bishop James has served the national church, the diocese, episcopal area, his colleagues and the people of our rural communities with faithfulness and theologically informed wisdom. And as an episcopal expert on rural affairs he has helped shape the Church of England’s approach to both ministry and mission across the country.

“Bishop James will retire in the knowledge that he has served diligently and faithfully, and he will leave the diocese with our gratitude, blessing and prayers. Please pray for him as he prepares to retire and move into a new form of life and ministry.”

Bishop James says, “It has been really exciting to be part of the shaping up of our great new diocese, and a deep joy to have a particular care for the Ripon Area.

“I give thanks for God’s grace at work amongst us and look forward to serving through the next months. There’ll be plenty of time for reflections and goodbyes in the spring”.

Bishop James was ordained in 1975 in the Diocese of Oxford before becoming Chaplain and Lecturer at Brasenose College until 1982. He served in the Diocese of London before joining the former Diocese of Ripon as Director of Ministry and Training, then Director of Mission. He became Bishop of Knaresborough in the (renamed) Diocese of Ripon & Leeds in 2004.

His Farewell Service will take place at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 30 April 2017 at 3.30pm.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 23 October 2016 at 3:26pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Trouble at York Minster

*** Updated Friday 21 October

There have been a lot of reports of the decision taken by the authorities at York Minster with respect to the Minster bellringers. The BBC’s coverage begins here with the headline “York Minster bells silenced after bell-ringers axed for ‘new team’”. In a letter shown on the BBC page, the Precentor of York, Canon Peter Moger writes to the ringers:

Chapter will recruit a Head Bell Ringer, who will then oversee the recruitment and activity of a new team of volunteer bell ringers. In order to begin this process, all current bell ringing activity will cease at the Minster, from today, Tuesday 11th October.

The York Minster Society of Change Ringers responded with this statement in which the Ringing Master, Peter Sanderson, commented:

I was appointed to the position of Ringing Master by Chapter in 2006 and have remained fully accountable to them ever since, always implementing Chapter’s policies as requested and being willing to work co-operatively with Chapter to resolve any issues as they have arisen. … You have also referred in the media to the review of the operation of the bell tower which raised health and safety concerns. That review was commissioned by Chapter, undertaken and completed without the knowledge of the bellringers and with no opportunity for them to provide input. Nor have the results ever been shared with us. I’m afraid that this is typical of the secrecy with which the Minster operates under the current leadership team under your direction. … When you arrived as Dean in 2012 the ringers invited you on several occasions to visit the bell-tower and meet the team. You declined all of those invitations and have never to my knowledge ascended the tower. As significant grievances between the ringers and Chapter have arisen over the past 18 months I have made numerous offers to meet with you and to work together to resolve them. You have rejected every one of those offers.

On Monday in a further brief statement, the Minster said that the issue was about safeguarding:

Earlier this summer, it was necessary for the Chapter to take action regarding a member of the bell ringing community on safeguarding grounds. … Some members of the York Minster Society of Change Ringers have consistently challenged the Chapter’s authority on this and other important matters. … This is why the Chapter took the decision to disband the bell ringing team last week.

This statement was read by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu (as Visitor) and has been released on video here. It is followed by questions and answers.

In their response, here, the ringers have again appealed to the Dean and Archbishop to talk to them:

We are deeply disappointed that Dean Faull and Archbishop Sentamu have decided to release their statement this afternoon without any prior communication or consultation with YMSCR. Now, more than ever, we feel the need to sit down and talk in private with the Dean and Chapter of York Minster to discuss these issues. We make a direct appeal to Dean Vivienne Faull and Archbishop John Sentamu to make contact and to arrange this meeting.

*** Update (Friday 21 October)

There has been a lot of press coverage of this story. The Church Times summarizes how the story unfolded in an article headlined Safeguarding issue silences bells of York Minster, and the Guardian does similarly under the headline How York Minster bellringers’ sacking blew the lid off bitter dispute.

Because of the nature of this story we ask all commenters to be especially careful in what they write. Comments containing ad hominem remarks will not be published.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at 7:43am BST | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Simplification – the story so far

The Simplification Task Group of the Church of England’s Renewal & Reform programme has issued this account of where they got to: Simplification – the story so far, Update from the Bishop of Willesden, Chair of the Simplification Task Group.

This paper, which has been approved by the Archbishops’ Council updates the Church with a summary of where we have got to on the Simplification Task Group work stream under the Renewal Reform initiative. It outlines the issues we have tackled, those areas we have declined to consider, the pieces of work that are outstanding, and the choices for a possible Phase 3. The purpose is to share what has happened as widely as possible, both because it is perfectly possible to miss changes in church legislation and therefore not be aware of the possibilities for doing things more simply, and because the Simplification Group wishes to give an account of its stewardship of the time and resources that it has consumed…

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 13 October 2016 at 5:12pm BST | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Andrew Goddard writes about Pastoral Accommodation

The indefatigable Andrew Goddard has just published at Fulcrum a long paper explaining why it is not possible to engage in pastoral accommodation over blessing same-sex unions: Blessing Same-Sex Unions – A Legitimate Pastoral Accommodation?

In addition to the main article, he has also published a large number of supplementary papers which are linked to it, either in the text, or in footnotes.

What is the church’s current official teaching and discipline?
What is the current ecclesial reality in relation to this teaching and discipline?
How did we get here and where might we go next?
Can we both uphold current teaching and offer greater “pastoral accommodation”?
Divorce and Remarriage
Polygamy
Prayer after abortion

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 at 6:24pm BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission

Press release from the Church of England

Theological review of work of Crown Nominations Commission
07 October 2016

As General Synod were advised in July 2016, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have commissioned a theological review of the work of the Crown Nominations Commission.

The group will be chaired by Professor Oliver O’Donovan FBA and the other members are:

Professor Sarah Coakley - Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
Professor Tom Greggs - Marischal Professor of Divinity, University of Aberdeen
The Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon - Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Professor Morwenna Ludlow - Professor of Christian History and Theology, University of Exeter
Father Thomas Seville CR - Faith and Order Commission
The Revd Dr Jennifer Strawbridge - Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Oxford
The Revd Canon Dr James Walters - Chaplain and Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics

The Commission has been very active over the last few years and as it is anticipated that there will be fewer vacant sees in the near future, it is timely to review the way in which it works. The focus of the group will be to explore and provide the theological framework for the Commission as it discharges its responsibilities and to make any recommendations on process in the light of this. The group will be inviting a number of people to meet with it as well as receiving written submissions. It is very conscious of its responsibility to ensure that the full richness and diversity of Church voices are represented and starts its work this week.

It is anticipated that the group will make a report to the Archbishops who have commissioned the work. They have committed to sharing it with General Synod in 2018.

More information about the Crown Nominations Commission

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 7 October 2016 at 10:29am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Dean of Peterborough bids farewell

The Church Times reports: Dean delivers harsh rebuke to C of E’s ‘blandness’ in final sermon

THE Dean of Peterborough, the Very Revd Charles Taylor, has bowed out of office with a stinging attack on envious people at the centre of the Church of England who resent “uppity” cathedrals and who wish to impose a “monochrome blandness” on the Church.

In late July, it was revealed that a cashflow crisis at Peterborough Cathedral meant that staff were in danger of not being paid. A loan was secured from the Church Commissioners. At the same time, it was announced that Dean Taylor was planning to retire.

In his farewell sermon on Saturday, Dean Taylor, who is 63, dropped a strong hint that the decision to leave had been forced upon him. Despite hundreds of letters of support, he said, he had not made any public remark about “the circumstances surrounding my ‘retirement’ — although some have alleged that the manner in which it was effected was legally dubious, morally reprehensible, and pastorally disgraceful. Well, they might care to think that. I could not possibly comment.”

And the article continues:

He detected a wider agenda: “Such an inclusive theology of mission as motivates this and other cathedrals . . . is not always welcome to those who resent the independence of cathedrals, who envy their freedom — indeed, their obligation — to take the risks that accompany that independence, and perceived that they’re getting a bit uppity.

“It certainly does not conform to the ecclesiology, if one can call it that, of those who would like to see power concentrated at the centre, in order to impose a bland, uniform theology, if one can call it that, which runs counter to the very essence of Anglican diversity.”

The recent death of Bishop David Jenkins had led him to wonder where, today, were the Anglican leaders who excite the public imagination? “Where among the leaders of today are the colourful clerics and turbulent priests, the prickly prophets, the rebels and reformers?” All he saw was “monochrome blandness”.

”It is surely of salutary significance that newly appointed deans and bishops these days are sent on an induction course — not as you might think, to hone their skills in theology, or liturgy, community outreach, or pastoral care, but to take a mini-MBA.

“The pattern of the Good Shepherd has been hijacked by the model of the Chief Executive Officer.”

This was fair enough to some extent, Dean Taylor said. “Sustaining the increasingly diverse and complex operations of an active cathedral or diocese is a costly exercise, which does need to be managed carefully and corporately. . .

“But I suggest it’s also true, that the cathedral, or the church, or the parish which sits comfortably without financial risk or worry, probably is not following the vocation of disciples to spend and be spent in the service of the gospel and for the love of God.

“Besides, if the ultimate purpose and success of mission is to be measured by the bottom line, by prosperous posteriors on pews and money in the bank, with every member and minster toeing the party line, then one can’t help wondering how the earthly mission and ministry of Jesus would be judged, dying as he did alone and in disgrace — no congregation, no cash in the bank, but betrayed, forsaken and denied, even by his chosen disciples.”

The cathedral website has this: Tributes paid to Dean at farewell service.

There is a complete audio recording of the sermon available here. Alas no transcript is provided but it is well worth the time to listen to in full.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 7 October 2016 at 10:12am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Changes at the Church Commissioners

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, announced last week that he will step down from his position in June 2017.

This week it was announced that the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, will become the new Deputy Chair of the Church Commissioners’ Board of Governors on 1 January 2017, in succession to the Bishop of London. The appointment was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury who by arrangement appoints a deputy to attend the meetings in his place.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 5 October 2016 at 10:08am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Monday, 3 October 2016

London CNC dates

Updated Tuesday

The dates when the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) will meet to choose the next Bishop of London have been published. They are

CNC 1 - 27 September 2017
CNC 2 - 7 November 2017
CNC 3 - 29 November 2017.

The current central members of the CNC were elected in 2012 for a five year term of office which expires on 31 August 2017. It will therefore be their successors (to be elected by General Synod next year) who, with the archbishops and diocesan members, will choose the new bishop.

As Bishop Chartres retires on 28 February 2017, the diocese of London can expect to be without a diocesan bishop for at least a year.

Update

The CNC dates for Sodor and Man have been added to the website today; they are 7 February 2017 and 8 March 2017.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 3 October 2016 at 2:39pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Holy Communion in the Church in Wales to be open to all the baptised - 2

Updated Thursday

I linked earlier to the Pastoral Letter from the bishops of the Church in Wales opening Holy Communion to all the baptised. At that time the letter was only available on the website of the diocese of St Davids. It has now been published on the provincial website, along with this press release:

Confirmation no longer required for Holy Communion – Bishops’ letter

Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.

The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion – the sharing of bread and wine – in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.

In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first – confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants. However, from the First Sunday in Advent – November 27 – everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year…

As well as the pastoral letter itself, there are three other related documents available for download.

Pastoral Letter
Theological Background
Church Guidance
Congregation Guidance

These links are to pdfs of the English versions. Welsh versions, and Word documents are also available.

Update

David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK have a helpful summary of the new documents, and of the law about giving alcohol to the under-fives, here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 at 10:42pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Bishops' Reflection Group: Church Times leader

The Church Times has a leader this week which discusses the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality. This is titled An unenviable task.

Do please read it in full.

The two concluding paragraphs:

…It is always dangerous to underestimate the ability of the C of E to avoid resolving an issue, but it does seem clear that many of the Bishops, and possibly both of the Archbishops, are determined to halt the Church’s endless wrangling about sexuality, on the obvious grounds that it undermines mission, brings the Church into disrepute, and causes real harm to many individuals. The direction of travel is towards liberal­isation. The sticking-point is how to accomplish this without com­promising the consciences of conservatives or triggering an exodus — or, at least, too much of one. The lesson learnt by most during the Shared Conversations was that it is possible to respect the opinions of another without relinquishing one’s own views. But the growth of what has been, in essence, a greater sense of perspective exposed the few who cannot see sexuality as anything other than a communion-breaking matter.

The remarks from GAFCON after the revelation that the Bishop of Grantham was in a celibate same-sex relationship marked a new low: “We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and bishops, permitting them to be in same-sex relation­ships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the Church’s teach­ing on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live.” This has rarely been said so boldly, and conservatives of this stripe cannot expect the bishops to come up with any measures that satisfy them. The C of E is a broad Church with able bishops, but it is beyond their ability to accommodate a view that rejects even the existing compromise.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 6:58pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Update on AMiE and GAFCON plans for England

Updated Saturday

Ruth Gledhill reports in Christian Today Anglican ‘Church’ For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England

An Anglican mission to rival the Church of England has set out plans to evangelise the UK.

The mission is already reaching out to evangelical Christians in dioceses that are “closed to conservative evangelicals”.

The plan is to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.

The influential Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, is backing the plan…

It involves new Anglican churches being independent from the country’s “official” established church.

The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) sets out its goal of to planting 25 new churches by 2025 and 250 by 2050 in a new video.

The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh is backing a plan to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.

Archbishop Okoh, who leads the conservative Anglican fellowship Gafcon, says: “We are so thrilled that the Anglican Mission in England exists and we are delighted that it is keen to start many new churches in the years to come. AMiE has the full support of the GAFCON movement.”

The video which announces this plan is available here.

The website of Anglican Mission in England explains here:

The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) is a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in areas covered by the Church of England (principally in England, but also in other parts of Europe) by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures.

AMiE came into being as a result of GAFCON and is one of a number of agencies that relates to GAFCON through the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) UK and Ireland. You can read more about the history of AMiE by clicking here.

A variety of Anglican churches are part of AMiE. Some churches are outside the structures of the Church of England. Others remain within the denomination but are experiencing tensions, whilst others have joined to support them…

There is a list of participating churches on this page.

Updates

The Church Times has a report: The world is our parish, Hull curate says as AMiE agenda is set out

The Church of England should not have a monopoly on Anglicanism in England, the priest set to plant a new church in Scarborough, outside diocesan structures (News, 9 September; Letters, 16 September), says.

“In the business world, monopolies are not encouraged; so I do not see why there should be one Anglican service provider in England,” the Revd Lee McMunn said on Wednesday. “Surely we can allow people the option to choose, whether that is future ministers or future members of congregations…”

There is a further copy of this report on the GAFCON website: AMiE, the UK mission society established by GAFCON, begins ambitious church planting program.

And the website of this new church in Scarborough is here: A New Church in Scarborough.

And the latest GAFCON Chairman’s letter is here. (The chairman of the GAFCON primates is the Archbishop of Nigeria.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 September 2016 at 5:54pm BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 September 2016

Cathedral statistics 2015 released

The Church of England has released its Cathedral statistics for 2015. They can be downloaded here. There is the following accompanying press release.

Cathedral statistics 2015 show continued growth
23 September 2016

Attendance at cathedral worship continues to increase with mid-week attendance rising and Sunday attendance stable in 2015, according to the latest Cathedral Statistics, published today. The figures confirm the trend of gradual growth in cathedral attendance noted in the report From Anecdote to Evidence published in 2014.

On average, 36,700 people (adults and children) attended services each week at the 42 cathedrals in England during 2015. This is an increase of 18% from 31,200 in 2005. Midweek attendance increased from 12,700 to 18,900, contributing most of the increase. Attendance at Sunday services has remained generally stable, at around 17,900 in 2015. Numbers on community rolls increased by 5% from 15,100 in 2014 to 15,900 in 2015.

Other regular services, such as fresh expressions and schools services conducted at least once a month and not part of the weekly pattern of services, attracted 471,300. More than 1.1 million people attended 5,310 public/civic events held in cathedrals.

“These figures are extremely encouraging,” said the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool. “They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation.”

Easter and Christmas

Easter 2015, services saw 54,000 attending worship, 2% more than in 2014. There were 28,200 Easter communicants, the highest figure since 2009. Attendance during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, was 92,500.

Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. There were 33,100 communicants at Christmas in 2015. Services during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted an attendance of 824,300 in 2015, the highest figure for the past decade. All events and services from the beginning of Advent to 23 December are captured in the Advent total.

Baptisms, Marriages and Thanksgivings

In 2015, 760 baptisms and 12 thanksgivings were conducted in cathedrals, a number almost unchanged since 2010. Since 2011, the number of infant baptisms in cathedrals has been falling steadily, while the number of baptisms of people over a year of age has steadily increased since 2005.

In the year, 270 marriages and 30 blessings were conducted in cathedrals. The number of funerals has remained stable over the last ten years at 370 with a further 120 memorial services conducted by cathedral clergy; 70 funerals were conducted at crematoria on behalf of cathedrals.

Children and Young People

The number of children and young people attending organised educational events in cathedrals increased by 14% from 280,900 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2015; a further 13,100 children visited Westminster Abbey. More than half of these visits were by children under 11 years old. Cathedral schools or schools formally associated with cathedrals had 12,440 children on their rolls in 2015. Attendance at graduation ceremonies was 264,700 and at other public events such as concerts was 842,400 in 2015.

Music

Cathedral choirs included 1,490 child choristers and 550 lay clerks and choral scholars in 2015. A further 600 children and 1,410 adults were involved in voluntary choirs. The cathedrals have, between them, 40 male, 30 female and 80 mixed cathedral choirs: 790 visiting choirs sang in one service or a week of services and more than 1,140 regular and 620 occasional musicians were involved in services in 2015.

Volunteers

The number of people volunteering at cathedrals rose by 13% from 13,300 in 2005 to 15,000 in 2015. There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015; a further 1 million people visited Westminster Abbey.

Notes

Cathedral Statistics 2015 can be read in full here.

The report From Anecdote to Evidence can be read here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 23 September 2016 at 7:14pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Reactions to the Bishops' Reflection Group on Human Sexuality

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have issued a joint statement:

Statement from Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement on the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality.

Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
James 1.21-25

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership - that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.

The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God’s people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.

Our prayer is that, strengthened by the Spirit, the members of the group will be enabled to listen, reflect and discern, and that as they undertake their work they will be granted moral courage and prophetic vision. For we are all alike called to be not only hearers of the Word, but doers too; our actions must match our words in seeking God’s justice, compassion and truth.

We continue to look forward to a future where LGBT people are no longer seen as a problem to be solved, but as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission. Anything less than that falls short of the Good News that God’s abundant love is for all humankind and that although LGBT people may struggle to find their place inside the church at the moment, God will travel with them when they choose the path of life, wherever that takes them.

GAFCON UK has issued this statement:

GAFCON UK Statement following the appointment of a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality

18th September 2016

GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God’s revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.

Comments from various people have been reported in the media:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 at 1:36pm BST | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable"

Updated to add press reports

The Church of England has released two related reports on clergy numbers today, one looking back at the actual numbers from 1949 to 2014, and one looking at projections of numbers up to 2035. There is this cover note to the two reports:

Cover note: Ordained Vocations Statistics report and Ministry Statistics in focus: Stipendiary clergy projections

and a press release.

Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable, report shows

Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.

The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy…

The full press release is copied below the fold.

The cover note includes links to the two reports, but for convenience here they are.

Ordained Vocations Statistics 1949-2014

Ministry Statistics in focus: Stipendiary clergy projections 2015-2035

The cover note also includes links to a report for each of the 42 dioceses. In each case it comprises the Ordained Vocations Statistics report with diocesan data at the end.

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England seeks more black and minority ethnic clergy

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Church of England needs 50 per cent increase in ordinands

Hannah Tooley Premier Church pledges to increase numbers of vicar training places by half

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today CofE desperate for more young women and ethnic minorities to hear the call of God

John Bingham The Telegraph Race to save a much-loved British endangered species (the local vicar)

Increase in ministry numbers is necessary and achievable, report shows
20 September 2016

Dioceses have responded to the call to work towards a 50% increase in candidates for ordination with new posts and new procedures. A review of numbers in ordained ministry over the last 67 years shows that the 50% increase in candidates for ministry by 2020 agreed by the General Synod in February, 2015, is needed to stabilise and increase the numbers ministering in parishes, chaplaincies and new forms of church.

The Church of England is seeking to increase by half the numbers training for ordained ministry and to sustain those numbers for a decade: an increase from about 500 to 750 by 2020. At the same time, the Church is also seeking greater diversity among those training for ministry. This will better reflect the communities where the Church is working, in terms of age, gender and ethnic and social background. The 50% increase is an aspiration and not a limit if more candidates come forward and dioceses require more new clergy.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev Andrew Watson, chair of the Ordained Vocations Working Group said, “The aspiration to increase the number of new clergy by 50% is part of a wider vision to release and develop the gifts of the whole people of God.

“It’s encouraging to see most of the dioceses really rising to this challenge, as they reshape their vocations teams and put new and more proactive vocations strategies in place. We are picking up a fresh commitment to ‘pray to the Lord of the Harvest’, along with early reports of an increase in the number of enquiries from potential candidates.”

Encouraging more young men and, especially, young women, as well as more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) worshippers to consider ordination will help the Church of England hit its aspiration of an extra 50% new clergy each year, according to a report on ordained vocations statistics published today. The Church is not just looking for an increase in numbers but also a growth in diversity. Dioceses have said that ministry in the future needs to embody the diversity in the Church and the nation to realise the hopeful future at the heart of Renewal and Reform.

The statistical review to help dioceses plan for the future shows that, while similar numbers of men and women are being recommended for ordination training each year, women are testing their vocations at a later age and tend to retire sooner than the men. Currently, women recommended for training are, on average, significantly older than the men recommended. The majority of younger paid clergy are men, while, among older clergy, more are women. The Church is encouraging women to test their vocations younger.

Hitting the extra 50% aspiration is not just a matter of recommending more people for training. The Church is looking for more people with the right gifts who have a vocation to ordained ministry. It is calling on all worshippers to consider what God is calling them to in the expectation that additional people will step forward to a variety of lay and ordained vocations.

The figures also show that the proportion of BAME candidates recommended for training is lower than the BAME proportion in the population. As part of the push for more candidates for ordination, the Church will be aiming for a greater diversity among its clergy, in terms of ethnic and social background, to reflect the communities where it looks to grow God’s church.

An accompanying projections report shows the effect of changes that will flow from increased numbers. The age profile of the clergy would become much flatter as numbers increase, reducing the risk associated with large numbers approaching retirement.

The projections (Figure 10 and Table 4) illustrate a steady decline in the total pool of clergy if the current trends in ordinations and retirements continue (status quo scenario). Clergy delaying retirement by a year (retirements 1 year later scenario) would help slow the rate of decline in numbers but cannot prevent it. Reaching the aspiration of a 50% increase in ordinations (ordinations 50% increase levels sustained scenario), would provide a stable pool of around 7,600 FTE clergy. If the rise is only a temporary peak and ordinations fall again to current levels gradually after 2023 then the pattern of decline will return (ordinations rise and fall scenario).

Alongside these reports, each diocese will receive a parallel report of its own statistics. Dioceses will then use these to plan their own strategy for increasing vocations to the priesthood, in the full knowledge of where they are doing well and where they are doing less well. As dioceses develop their own plans, the national aims will develop accordingly.

Currently, around 500 candidates for ordained ministry are recommended for training each year. By 2020, it is hoped to increase this number to around 750, including a substantial increase in the numbers of young candidates and in the diversity of their backgrounds.

As well as the overall numerical increase the Church is seeking to:

Increase the proportion of younger ordinands so that half of those recommended for stipendiary ministry are under 32

Increase the proportion of women among the ordinands under 32 to about half of the total

Increase the percentage of ordinands who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic towards the same proportion as in the general population in England (15%).

Progress in these areas will be monitored and reported annually, along with a review of the Church of England’s deployment needs.

Other priority areas will be developed in response to the needs of the dioceses and national deployment. There are four current areas for such additional priorities. They are:

An increase in the number of pioneer ministers

An increase in lay ministers to serve alongside ordained ministers

The encouragement of the vocations of all people, including how people live out their faith in daily life

The encouragement of vocations in religious life.

Notes

The Ordained Vocations Statistics Report and the Ministry Statistics in focus projections report can be read in full via the links in the cover note here.

Read the blog here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 at 11:43am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Friday, 16 September 2016

Bishops' Reflection Group on Sexuality

The following press release has been issued:

Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality

Following the statement from the College of Bishops issued on 15 September 2016, the Church of England has published the terms of reference of the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality and the membership of the group.

Terms of Reference

To assist the Bishops of the Church of England in their reflection on issues relating to human sexuality, in the light of theological, biblical, ecumenical, Anglican Communion, pastoral, missiological, historical and societal considerations bearing on these issues, and following experiences of the shared conversations held around the Church between 2014 and 2016.

To assist the House of Bishops in identifying questions in relation to human sexuality, with particular reference to same sex relationships. It will also develop possible answers to those questions for the House to consider, as a contribution to the leadership which the House provides to the Church on such issues.

To provide material to assist the House of Bishops in its reflections in November 2016, and subsequently as requested, and to assist the House in its development of any statements on these matters which it may provide to the wider Church.

To consider any matter which the Archbishops request that the group should have on its agenda.

Membership of Group:

Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Chair)
Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden (Vice-Chair)
Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford
Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport
Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton
Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone
Rt Revd Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking

Staff support:

Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director Mission & Public Affairs Division
Jonathan Neil-Smith, Central Secretariat (Secretary)
William Nye LVO, Secretary General
Canon David Porter, Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen, Theological Secretary and Secretary to the Council for Christian Unity

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 September 2016 at 5:21pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Statement from the English College of Bishops

Church of England press release

Statement from the College of Bishops
15 September 2016

The College of Bishops of the Church of England met in Oxford from 12-15 September 2016.

As is the usual pattern of meetings of the College every third year the College of Bishops are joined for part of their meeting by bishops from the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church of Ireland and Church in Wales. Representatives from each of the sister churches made presentations to the college and engaged fully in discussions during the first days of the meeting.

A wide ranging agenda included presentations and discussions on Safeguarding, the Renewal and Reform programme, the post-Brexit political landscape, clergywomen in leadership, clergy wellbeing and issues of sexuality.

Discussions on issues of sexuality took place as part of a new process of episcopal discernment which will continue during the meetings of the House of Bishops in November and December of this year and in January next year at the next meeting of the College of Bishops. These discussions were undertaken by the College of Bishops alone.

Whilst the process of episcopal discernment is in the public domain the Bishops agreed that the contents of their discussion should not be shared in public during the process so as to enable those discussions to be conducted freely and in a spirit of full collegiality. Consequently the contents of the conversations will remain private and participants have agreed not to comment on the contents of the discussions beyond their own views.

Following the conclusion of the shared conversations process the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have invited some bishops to take forward work on sexuality to assist the episcopal discernment process. The Bishops’ Reflection Group on Sexuality will be chaired by Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich. The full membership of the group and its terms of reference will be published in due course.

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Thursday, 8 September 2016

CofE 2014 Parish Finance statistics released

Updated Friday

The Church of England has released its parish finance statistics for 2014 today. They are collated from the annual parish returns and are available here. There is this accompanying press release.

Parish finances show record level of giving

The generosity of churchgoers from across the country is highlighted in the latest parish finance statistics. The figures – covering the year 2014 – demonstrate a record level of giving with total planned giving up £6 million at £329 million and total direct giving up £71 million at £481 million.

The figures also show that Church of England parishes donated £46 million to supporting other charities working around the world, from foodbanks and local children’s charities to international aid appeals.

Parishes raised these important funds from a combination of regular and one-off donations as well as investments and legacies. Total parish income from giving, investments and other income sources was £989 million – an increase of £36 million on the previous year. Expenditure levels also rose by £28 million to £948 million in 2014, leaving the 12,000 parishes a surplus of £41 million over expenditure.

Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser, said:

“These financial statistics reveal an underlying financial health in the church which is encouraging. As a result of the commitment and generosity of hundreds of thousands of churchgoers, we have seen record levels of giving - with the average weekly gift from all planned givers exceeding £11 for the first time, and the average gift from those able to give through Gift Aid exceeding £15 including the tax recovered. Parishes were able to claim record levels of Gift Aid, with a significant part of this increase arising from use of the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme. It is also pleasing to note that legacy giving was the highest yet.”

Average weekly giving per tax-efficient givers has continued to rise year on year with members giving on average £12.01 in 2014. Average weekly giving per electoral roll member rose to £8.85 in 2014, an increase of £1.60 a week and the highest level recorded. Total planned giving rose by slightly less than inflation, while total income grew by more than inflation.

Update

Time Wyatt reports for Church Times that Parishioners give more — but not enough to cancel out costs.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 11:21am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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General Synod members write to College of Bishops

The following press release has been issued. The letter to which it refers is copied below the fold.
For the full list of signatures follow this link.

GENERAL SYNOD MEMBERS URGE BISHOPS TO SEND A POSITIVE MESSAGE TO LGBTI CHRISTIANS.

Over 130 lay and clergy members of Synod from across the Church of England’s traditions have signed an open letter to the College of Bishops urging that the Church is “unequivocal in its acknowledgement” that LGBTI Christians are essential to the health and future of our Church.

The letter has been made public just before the Church of England’s meeting of the College of Bishops following the completion of the Shared Conversations process in July. It comes after an earlier letter from 72 conservatives expressing concern over the discussion of any new proposals, which they stated would lead to a fracture within the Church of England.

Organised by four influential Synod members – Jayne Ozanne, the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, the Very Revd Dr David Ison and Tim Hind – the letter has succeeded in uniting members from across the various Church traditions and from 38 of the 42 dioceses within the Church of England.

Echoing sentiments made by many signatories, long standing synod member John Mason said:
“I am not normally enthusiastic about letters of this type, but I am in complete agreement with publication of this one. I wholeheartedly approve of it both because of the need for a response (to the conservatives’ letter) and because of its particularly inclusive and affirming content.”

The letter recognises the importance of the Shared Conversations, and its role in helping people understand “the common reverence we (synod members) hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.”

Importantly it called for a new “relational approach” to how the Synod engages in such difficult topics, and urged the Bishops to move forward “with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod”. This will be aided by the fact that there is now one openly gay and partnered member of the College of Bishops, the Rt Revd Nicholas Chamberlain.

Jayne Ozanne said the level of support was very encouraging, and an important signal to the bishops of the broad support that exists amongst Synod members:
“The response to the letter has been overwhelming, - it definitely seems that the tide is now finally turning. From conversations I have had it would appear that many synod members were deeply challenged and moved by the discussions in July, and it seems that there is a growing consensus for the Church to take active steps towards ensuring it is welcoming and inclusive of all.”

The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of the Human Sexuality Group in Synod and the other lead co-ordinator, said that the breadth of support was important:
“The broad consensus across the church traditions is extremely encouraging. We hope it will help the C of E to find ways to heal the deep level of pain felt by many of us within the LGBTI community, by becoming genuinely welcoming and affirming.”

The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, was clear that the status quo is not an option:
“I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the Church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a Church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”

Other synod members who would like to sign the letter are being encouraged to do so in retrospect by adding their signature at www.synodletter.wordpress.com.

ENDS

For more information please contact Jayne Ozanne at synodletter@gmail.com

NOTES
1. The 131 signatories include:

- 69 members of the House of Clergy – including 3 Deans and 8 Archdeacons
- 62 members of the House of Laity
- 70 women
- 61 men
- Representatives from 38 of the 42 dioceses

2. A further 7 synod members indicated that they would have liked to have signed the letter but felt unable to do so as they had not participated in any of the Shared Conversations.

3. 72 conservatives sent an open letter to the College of Bishops on August 11th 2016.

4. A full list of Synod members is available here.

To All Members of the College of Bishops

Dear Bishop

We write as Members from across the full breadth of General Synod to thank and congratulate you for what we feel were a significant few days within the life of the Synod last July. Whilst the Shared Conversations were difficult, and at times very painful, we are grateful for the care and thought that had gone into creating as safe a space as possible for differing views to be aired, and experiences listened to.

We are particularly grateful for the way that we were encouraged to engage in Scripture together. This enabled us to appreciate the common reverence we hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.

We now look to you and your colleagues within the College of Bishops to help lead us forward.

We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.

Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world.

We wish you to be assured of our prayers, and know that we are fully committed to the process of encouraging greater inclusion across the Church of England for all.

Please let us know how we might best support you in this important work,

Yours in Christ

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 8:00am BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

After Grantham

There has been a lot of media coverage of the news about the Bishop of Grantham, first reported here.

This news report by Madeleine Davies in the Church Times incorporates many of the responses to the news from other people or groups: Bishop of Grantham: ‘I hope to be a standard-bearer as a gay man’.

The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Lincoln to his parishes can be found here.

The full text of the GAFCON statement can be found here.

Statements from LGCM and LGBTI Mission are also available.

ACNS has Secretary general clarifies view after gay English bishop “outed”

Anglican Mainstream has a convenient compendium of links to responses from a variety of perspectives.

Some other viewpoints from the blogosphere:

Vicky Beeching The first openly gay bishop is a huge step forward – but it’s not enough

Beth Routledge The Church of England, and The Sex In Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth Sexuality, Celibacy and Bishops

Savi Hensman A gay bishop and loving everyone: the dilemma of church leaders

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 7 September 2016 at 11:25am BST | Comments (61)
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Sunday, 4 September 2016

Married people write to College of Bishops

The following letter has been published today by the Sunday Times

To All Members of the House of Bishops
September 2016

Dear Bishops

We are writing to you as married lesbian and gay members of the Church of England. Some of us are clergy; some of us are members of the laity. We are just a few of the many gay and lesbian people in this country who have in the past two years been able to celebrate with families, friends, and in our cases often our local Church community, the enriching and life enhancing love we have found in our wives and husbands.

We would like you to know that we will be praying for you as you meet in September as a College of Bishops.

Now that the Shared Conversations are at an end it is time for the Church of England to move forward and make clear the commitment to ‘good disagreement’ that was at their heart. We fully appreciate that the time may not yet be right for a change in the Church’s official understanding of marriage. But many in our parishes have already made that move and it is time to respect that a diversity of theology within the Church now exists and that there is more than one understanding of what a faithful Christian may believe on these issues.

As you meet to discuss we seek from you a clear lead that offers a way forward to greater inclusion that will enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands. We hope for an outcome that will enable those who wish to do so to publicly celebrate where we see God at work in the lives of our congregations without fear and in openness.

We encourage you to be bold, and to be honest about what many of you already believe from your own experience, and to what you know to be increasingly the direction of travel, not just in our Church but in many Churches in this country.

We will always want to see the full inclusion of LGBTI people in the Church, and we will continue to work towards it. We look forward to welcoming a first step in that process and a move away from the harm and hurt that has so often been done in the name of the Church.

Yours in Christ

Clergy:
1. The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain and Stephen Foreshew-Cain
2. The Revd Richard Harris and Ricardo Goncalves.
3. The Revd Garry Lawson and Timothy H. Wane
4. The Revd Clive Larson and John Markham
5. The Revd Paul Collier and Mr Collier
6. The Revd Canon Jeremy Davis and Simon McEnery
7. The Revd Geoffrey Thompson and Tony Steeles
8. The Revd Prof Mark Cobb and Keith Arrowsmith

Laity
9. Jeremy Timm & Mike Brown
10. Ruth Wilde & Ellie Wilde
11. Jack Semple and Ross Griffiths
12. Paul Jellings and Andrew Carter
13. Erica Baker and Susan Strong
14. Karen and Samantha Bregazzi-Jones
15. Keith Barber and Tim Mills
16. Simon Dawson and David Mooney

In addition a further seven clergy couples and Readers have indicated their support for this letter whilst wishing to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves, and often their Bishops, from attack.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 September 2016 at 8:00am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 3 September 2016

LGBTI Mission: The Bishop of Grantham

The LGBTI Mission has issued this statement:

LGBTI Mission: Statement about the Bishop of Grantham

The LGBTI Mission welcomes the openness that Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain has shown in revealing personal information about himself, while we deplore the media threat which has led to the need for this to happen. We assure him of our love and prayers, extending to his partner, his colleagues, and his wider family.

We are pleased that the forthcoming College of Bishops meeting will now have at least one openly LGBTI voice in their discussion of what next steps the Church of England should take in regard to same-sex relationships. We hope this will lead to increased openness among bishops so that burden does not long remain on the Bishop of Grantham alone.

The Guardian reports that Bishop Nicholas himself has said:
“I will speak [at the meeting], and this part of me will be known. I hope I’ll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I really hope that I’ll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality,”
And, asked whether other bishops might follow his lead in openly declaring their sexuality, he said: “I really can only speak for myself. If I’m an encouragement to others, that would be great.”

We are also pleased that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Lincoln have expressed their unequivocal support for him, and confirmed that they made his appointment with full knowledge of his circumstances. But we regret that when announcing senior appointments the Church still adheres to a discriminatory policy of purposeful concealment. It is this policy which has lead directly to the discomfort which Bishop Nicholas is now experiencing.

The need to review the absurd and cruel double standard still applied in relation to sexual conduct of the clergy remains an urgent task for the Church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 6:37pm BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Friday, 2 September 2016

Bishop of Grantham threatened with outing by Sunday newspaper

Updated Saturday afternoon

Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian has reported this:
Bishop of Grantham first C of E bishop to declare he is in gay relationship

The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to publicly declare that he is gay and in a relationship. In a move that will be embraced by campaigners for equality but is likely to alarm conservatives who fear the church is moving away from traditional teachings, Nicholas Chamberlain said there had been no secret about his long-term – albeit celibate – relationship with his partner.

But a threat by a Sunday newspaper to reveal Chamberlain’s sexuality had pushed him to speak publicly. He acknowledged that the revelation would cause “ripples” within the church. “It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he told the Guardian in an exclusive interview. “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”

The Guardian also has this comment article by Andrew Brown ‘Double standard’ in C of E on homosexuality is less defensible today.

The Church of England has been confused and dishonest about homosexuality for most of the last 50 years, as it struggled to come to terms with feminism and the sexual revolution. The official line is that all sex outside marriage is wrong, and that gay people can’t marry in church. However, the definition of marriage is flexible for straight people: the church accepts that divorce and remarriage can be regrettable necessities for heterosexuals, even when they are priests or (occasionally) bishops. Meanwhile, gay churchgoers are often welcomed and are frequently married or partnered. Congregations vary widely in their attitudes but are, for the most part, no more illiberal than the society around them.

In effect, there is one standard for the laity – which is to conform to the liberal norms of society – and a double standard for the clergy who are supposed to be celibate, even when they live with same sex partners, if not heterosexually married. It is perfectly in order for clergy and even bishops to be civilly partnered…

The Diocese of Lincoln has today (Saturday) published a letter sent out yesterday from the Bishop of Lincoln:
A MESSAGE TO THE PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE FROM THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN

2 September 2016

Last year, Nicholas Chamberlain accepted the invitation to become the twelfth Bishop of Grantham. I was delighted that we were able to appoint a priest of his faithfulness, energy, wisdom and experience to this senior role at such an important time in the life of our diocese.

Bishop Nicholas has brought to the diocese many excellent gifts that are serving us very well as we seek to build the life of the church in greater Lincolnshire in faith, confidence and joy. It was for those many gifts that he was appointed. It was clear to me, and to those who assisted me with the appointment, that Nicholas would be an excellent bishop, and this has been borne out by the tremendous benefit we are already enjoying as a result of his ministry among us during the past year.

Bishop Nicholas’ appointment was made following the recommended and established procedures for suffragan posts, and was approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury (as metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury). The archbishop, and the members of the advisory panel, were in full possession of the facts of the appointment and unanimous in their support.

A story has been published on the Guardian website this evening about sexuality and the church. The same story will appear in the newspaper tomorrow, and it includes an interview with Bishop Nicholas in which he is open about the fact that he is gay. Bishop Nicholas gave this interview willingly and after much careful thought and prayer, and he did so with the express intention of acting in the best interests of the Diocese of Lincoln and of the Church of England.

I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops’ guidance on Issues in Human Sexuality. For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor.

I understand that in some parts of the church – locally, nationally and internationally – this news will be challenging. My prayer for the church is that we will continue to seek to work together to understand difference with respect and dignity; to embrace and nurture our diverse gifts as disciples of Jesus Christ and in the service of God and neighbour; and to enrich and enable fulfillment in the lives of all God’s people, whatever their background, race, faith, gender or sexuality.

With my thoughts and prayers,

The Right Reverend Christopher Lowson
Bishop of Lincoln

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 8:39pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Dean of Winchester: Catherine Ogle

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Winchester: Catherine Ogle

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 September 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church, Winchester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, MA, MPhil, DLitt, Dean of Birmingham, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity and Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and of Saint Swithun in Winchester, on the resignation of the Very Reverend James Edgar Atwell, MA, BD, ThM on 14 July 2016.

Notes for editors

The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, (aged 55) studied at Leeds University, and then at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She studied for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge 1985 to 1988. Her first curacy was at St Mary, Middleton in Ripon diocese from 1988 to 1991. From 1991 to 1995 she was Religious Programmes Editor at BBC Radio Leeds and attached to St Margaret of Antioch, in inner city Leeds.

In 1994 she was among the first women to be ordained priest in the Church of England and served her first incumbency from 1995 to 2001 as Priest in Charge of Woolley with West Bretton in Wakefield Diocese. From 2001 to 2010 she was Vicar of St Peter’s, Huddersfield Parish Church, also in the diocese of Wakefield. From 2003 to 2006 she was Chaplain at the University of Huddersfield. From 2008 to 2010 she was Honorary Canon at Wakefield Cathedral and Rural Dean of Huddersfield. Since 2010 she has been Dean of Birmingham.

The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle is married to Robin Goater, an accountant currently Finance Director of a local mental health charity. They have 1 son, Thomas, who is studying to be a teacher.

Her interests include the arts, broadcasting, hospitality and walking.

The Winchester diocesan website has A new Dean for Winchester Cathedral.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 11:19am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Suffragan Bishop of Berwick: Mark Tanner

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Berwick: Mark Tanner

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published : 1 September 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Mark Simon Austin Tanner to the Suffragan See of Berwick.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Mark Simon Austin Tanner, MA, BA MTh, Vice Principal of St John’s College, Durham and Warden Cramer Hall in the diocese of Durham, to the Suffragan See of Berwick in the diocese of Newcastle which has been in abeyance since 1572.

Notes for editors

Canon Mark Tanner was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, then at St John’s College Durham and then at Liverpool University. He trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He served his title at Upton in Chester diocese from 1998 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2007 he was Vicar at Doncaster in Sheffield diocese before moving on to be Vicar at Ripon in the diocese of Ripon and Leeds from 2007 to 2011, and was also Area Dean of Ripon from 2009 to 2011. From 2009 to 2011 he was OCM with 21 Engineering Regiment, and with 101 Royal Artillery from 2011 to 2013.

Since 2011 he has been Warden of Cranmer Hall in the diocese of Durham and Vice Principal of St John’s College, Durham, and from 2015 he has been Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral.

Canon Mark Tanner is married and has 2 children.

His interests include walking, running and motorcycles.

The Newcastle diocesan website has Canon Mark Tanner announced as new Suffragan Bishop of Berwick.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 2:16pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Monday, 29 August 2016

Conservative evangelicals to form "shadow synod"

Updated again Wednesday evening

John Bingham of the Telegraph reports: Church of England parishes consider first step to break away over sexuality.

A group of parishes is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over issues such as homosexuality, with the creation of a new “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teaching.

Representatives of almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.

Organisers, drawn from the conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, say they have no immediate plans to break away - but are setting up the “embryonic” structures that could be used to do so if the established church moves further in what they see as a liberal direction…

There is a further report with some additional usefui background information from Ruth Gledhill in Christian Today Anglicans consider new synod to oppose gay marriage

…In England, there is already a number of conservative groups such as the Church Society, and Reform. Dr Sanlon has written for the Church Society.

There are also the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which is signed up to Gafcon’s Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and the Anglican Mission in England, a mission society promoting gospel growth in England.

Anglican Mainstream is a fifth…

…A spokesman for Anglican Mainstream said: “This is not an initiative organised or directed by Gafcon.”

But he said there were many similarities between them and Gafcon.

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

According to the Daily Mail:

…A Church of England spokeswoman said: “The Shared Conversations process over the last two years included the participation of over 1,300 members of the church in regional and national settings.
“Through those conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the Church conducts whatever further formal discussions take place in the future.
“The Church of England is episcopally led and synodically governed. Within that structure, many like-minded parishes join together in a range of organisations, meetings and assemblies to share mutual support and debate.”

Readers who want to know more about the views of the organiser of this event may find this book review of interest.

Updates

Andy Lines, the Chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force has issued this statement.

Andy Lines is employed as Mission Director of Crosslinks, and has PtO in Southwark diocese, but according to Crockfords has served only in South America, and has never held any parochial office in the Church of England.

Read the GAFCON Chairman’s August letter in full for comment on the CofE.

And this from GAFCON UK.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 6:07pm BST | Comments (83) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Archbishop Welby at Greenbelt

There is a report by James Macintyre in Christian Today of an interview conducted at the Greenbelt Festival by Church of England priest and British television personality Kate Bottley. The headline under which it appears is: Justin Welby: ‘I am constantly consumed with horror’ at the way the Church has treated gay people.

The part of the interview to which the headline relates is this:

…Asked by an audience member who was due to enter a civil partnership when the Church would be in a position to bless the union, the Archbishop simply said that he did not know. “I don’t have a good answer to it,” he said. “If we were the only Church here and [there were] no other Churches, and if division didn’t matter it would be much easier to answer”.

Welby said that the inclusion of gay people and safeguarding against abuse were the two issues which he lies awake thinking about at night.

“Do I know when there will be a point when the blessing [of the civil partnership] will happen? No. I don’t and I can’t see the road ahead”. He added that the Church started from a traditionalist position, moved on to out of touch and then “vicious” and “now we just look odd”.

He said “we have to find a way to love and embrace everyone who loves Jesus Christ” but he added that this included people who feel – or come from societies which believe – that same-sex relationships are “deeply, deeply wrong”.

Welby talked of an “incredible clash that is so important to so many people and goes to the heart of the identity of so many people”. He added: “There isn’t a simple solution… I haven’t got a good answer.” To applause, he said “I am constantly consumed with horror” at the way in which the Church has treated the gay community…

The article reports what he said on a variety of other topics too. I do recommend reading the entire article. If further detail becomes available I will add links here.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dean of Wells: John Harverd Davies

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Wells: John Harverd Davies

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 23 August 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend John Harverd Davies to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Wells.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend John Harverd Davies, MA, MPhil, PhD, Dean of Derby, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Wells, on the resignation of the Very Reverend John Martin Clarke, BD, MA, on his resignation of 31 December 2015.

Notes for Editors

The Very Reverend Dr John Davies (aged 58) studied at Keble College, Oxford and then at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for his MPhil, before doing his Doctorate at Lancaster University.

He studied for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. His first curacy was at Liverpool Parish Church, from 1984 to 1987 and he then moved to Peterborough Parish Church, from 1987 to 1990 and was also Minor Canon at Peterborough Cathedral from 1988 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1994 he was Vicar at St Margaret, Anfield in Liverpool diocese, before taking up the post in 1994 as Chaplain, Fellow and Director of Studies in Theology at Keble College, Oxford where he was until 1999. From 1999 to 2010 he was Vicar of Melbourne, in Derby diocese whilst also serving as Diocesan Director of Ordinands. From 2007 to 2010 he was also Priest-in- Charge of Ticknall, Smisby and Stanton by Bridge in Derby diocese. Since 2010 he has been Dean of Derby.

His interests include foreign travel, hospitality and walking.

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Renewal and Reform under the spotlight

Updated yet again Thursday evening

Today’s Observer newspaper has two pieces by Harriet Sherwood dealing with the Church of England.

As traditional believers turn away, is this a new crisis of faith?
Modern churches are driving up numbers among the young, but critics say their direct and emotional style of worship risks alienating mainstream Christians

…Ric Thorpe said: “What’s changed is that [the church] is now saying, we want this money to go towards growth – which, when it’s in decline, is a wise investment. In this new thinking, you’ve got to demonstrate that you’ve got a plan, that you’re putting [funding] to good use, that it’s not going to something that’s dying. There’s an urgency about this.”

He says small rural churches have a higher number of clergy per capita than dense, urban parishes. “Where the population is denser, there are fewer clergy around to reach those people. If we are an outward-facing church we need to position people where they’re most needed: 83% of people live in urban areas, but 83% of [church] finance doesn’t go there. But it should.”

The church, he said, needed to help some rural parishes “face reality”. Some of those parishes, historically the backbone of the Anglican church, are wincing in pain. Another key plank of the Renewal and Reform programme is the goal of recruiting 6,000 priests over the next 15 years, to be “the leadership of the church in the 2030s, 40s and 50s”, says the church’s secretary general, William Nye…

and

Top cleric says Church of England risks becoming a ‘suburban sect’.
The cleric in question is Martyn Percy and there are extensive quotes from the afterword to his forthcoming book, The Future Shapes of Anglicanism.

According to Percy, the strategy is fundamentally flawed. “It will take more to save the Church of England than a blend of the latest management theory, secular sorcery with statistics and evangelical up-speak,” he writes.

A cure for the ailing church “would require a much deeper ecclesial comprehension than the present leadership currently exhibit … There seems to be no sagacity, serious science or spiritual substance to the curatives being offered.”

Rather, he says, the church “is being slowly kettled into becoming a suburban sect, corralling its congregations, controlling its clergy and centralising its communication. Instead of being a local, dispersed, national institution, it is becoming a bureaucratic organisation, managing its ministry and mission – in a manner that is hierarchically scripted.”

Updates

Three (so far) blog articles have already appeared in response to these newspaper stories:

Gary Waddington Mission or Managerialism

Eddie Green Crisis in the Church?

Ian Paul Does growth need management

And now a fourth: Richard Peers Holiness and Management

Two more articles:

Archbishop Cranmer The great canon doctor Martyn Percy implicates Justin Welby in “secular sorcery”

Wealands Bell Shiny Church or Soggy Church? Each has its place

And another two:

Andrew Lightbown Relaxed about R & R

Catholicity and covenant Renewal and reform, c.1099

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Friday, 12 August 2016

72 synod members write to the bishops

34 clergy and 38 lay members of the General Synod, coming from 33 dioceses, have written an open letter which has been published in the Church of England Newspaper.

The full text and list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The existence of the letter is also reported in the Church Times but this article is behind the paywall.

The Church of England Newspaper report includes additional comments from two of the signatories, and also from one other (anonymous) synod member who said:

“This letter shows the complete blindness there appears to be amongst some to see the absurdity of their position. The Church cannot hope to give a welcome that has any truth, love or integrity if it does not fully embrace LGBTI Christians as equal members of the Body of Christ.

“To threaten fracture and state that ‘no proposals be considered’ is highly manipulative and unChristian. Surely our faith commands us to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying and to remain open to revelation?

“To seek to close down a discussion before it even starts shows the rigidity of a fundamentalist approach to religion, which is based on fear rather than faith. God is big enough, his arms wide enough and His truth strong enough to withstand any debate”.

Open Letter to the College and House of Bishops

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Now that the process of Shared Conversations launched subsequent to the Pilling Report has been completed and the ‘baton’ passed to the College and House of Bishops, we are writing to assure you of our prayers as you meet this autumn to discern the way forward. As members of General Synod we wish to offer the following reflections which we hope and pray might help your deliberation and discernment.

We are grateful for the opportunity that was recently given to the General Synod to engage in a consideration of Scripture. However, we believe this was of an initial nature only, and that much more biblical study is needed before we will be able, as a Synod, to make theologically informed decisions about human anthropology and sexuality. In particular we believe it is essential to clarify what it means to ‘honour God with your bodies’ (1 Corinthians 6:20, NIV) so that we do not find ourselves praying for God’s blessing on that which is contrary to his will.

We are committed to building a church that is genuinely welcoming to all people, irrespective of the pattern of sexual attraction that they experience. We would welcome initiatives to help local churches do this in a way that is affirming of and consistent with Scripture, and would hope to support suggestions you might wish to bring to Synod to that effect.

As you prepare to meet in the College and House of Bishops, we urge you not to consider any proposals that fly in the face of the historic understanding of the church as expressed in ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ (1991) and Lambeth Resolution 1.10. To do so – however loud the apparent voice for change – could set the Church of England adrift from her apostolic inheritance. It would also undermine our ability as members of General Synod to offer support and lead to a fracture within both the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

We thank God for you and, remembering the apostle James’s injunction to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), we commit ourselves to asking God to grant you his wisdom as you endeavour to offer episcopal leadership to the Church of England at this time.

Signed by the following General Synod members (Diocese):

The Rev Canon Jonathan Alderton-Ford (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
The Rev Sam Allberry (Oxford)
The Rev Dr Andrew Atherstone (Oxford)
The Rev Andrew Attwood (Coventry)
Mrs Emily Bagg (Portsmouth)
The Rev Canon David Banting (Chelmsford)
Dr William Belcher (Gloucester)
Mrs Rachel Bell (Derby)
Dr Andrew Bell (Oxford)
Mrs Liz Bird (Hereford)
Mr Peter Boyd-Lee (Salisbury)
The Revd Peter Breckwoldt (Salisbury)
Mr James Cary (Bath & Wells)
Mr Graham Caskie (Oxford)
The Rev Preb Simon Cawdell (Hereford)
The Rev John Chitham (Chichester)
The Rev Canon Jonathan Clark (Leeds)
The Rev Canon Charlie Cleverley (Oxford)
Dr Simon Clift (Winchester)
Mrs Ann Colton (Chelmsford)
The Rev Canon Andrew Cornes (Chichester)
Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
The Rev Barney de Berry (Canterbury)
Mrs Gill de Berry (Salisbury)
Brigadier Ian Dobbie (Rochester)
The Rev Dr Sean Doherty (London)
The Rev James Dudley-Smith (Bath & Wells)
The Rev John Dunnett (Chelmsford)
Mrs Mary Durlacher (Chelmsford)
Mr Carl Fender (Lincoln)
Miss Emma Forward (Exeter)
Mrs Chris Fry (Winchester)
The Rev Canon Sally Gaze (Norwich)
Mr Chris Gill (Lichfield)
The Rev Graham Hamilton (Exeter)
Mr Jeremy Harris (Chester)
The Ven Simon Heathfield (Birmingham)
Mr Carl Hughes (Southwark)
The Rev Canon Gary Jenkins (Southwark)
Mrs Carolyn Johnson (Blackburn)
The Rev Peter Kay (St Albans)
Mrs Helen Lamb (Ely)
Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
Capt Nicholas Lebey (Southwark)
Mr James Lee (Guildford)
The Rev Mark Lucas (Peterborough)
Mrs Rosemary Lyon (Blackburn)
The Rev Angus MacLeay (Rochester)
Mr Sam Margrave (Coventry)
The Rev Alistair McHaffie (Blackburn)
The Rev Shaun Morris (Lichfield)
The Rev Dr Rob Munro (Chester)
Miss Margaret Parrett (Manchester)
Miss Jane Patterson (Sheffield)
The Rev Dr Ian Paul (Southwell & Nottingham)
Mrs Kathy Playle (Chelmsford)
The Rev Dr Philip Plyming (Guildford)
Mr Andrew Presland (Peterborough)
The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich)
The Rev Dr Jason Roach (London)
The Rev Dr Ben Sargent (Winchester)
Mr Clive Scowen (London)
Mr Ed Shaw (Bristol)
The Rev Charlie Skrine (London)
Mr Colin Slater (Southwell & Nottingham)
Dr Chik Tan (Lichfield)
The Rev Martyn Taylor (Lincoln)
The Rev Chris Tebbutt (Salisbury)
Mr Jacob Vince (Chichester)
Dr Yvonne Warren (Coventry)
The Rev Canon Giles Williams (Europe)
Mr Brian Wilson (Southwark)

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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace

Updated

I linked (in the Opinion columns on 23 and 30 July) to articles about the objections that have been voiced during recent consecrations of female bishops. These articles were in response to a press release from WATCH objecting to the facilitation of these objections. WATCH has today issued this press release:

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace
August 9th, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury has informed us that conversations are in progress with the relevant people so that, in future, objections such as that at Canterbury Cathedral in June will not be allowed.

Thank you to those who have written in support of our statement.

Update

Mark Woods Christian Today Justin Welby: We’ll stop protests at consecration of women bishops

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation
Wednesday 27th July 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of Sarah Snyder as his new Advisor for Reconciliation.

She takes over from Canon David Porter who moved into his new role as Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop at the beginning of May.

Sarah will take up the role in September. She will be part of the senior team at Lambeth Palace while also being based at Coventry Cathedral, where Archbishop Justin’s Reconciliation Ministry has been established since its inception. Her role will have a particular emphasis on supporting the Church in contexts of violent conflict or post-conflict and helping the Church to be an agent of reconciliation and conflict-transformation.

[continued below the fold]

A theologian who specialises in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, Sarah brings wide-ranging international experience of peace-building and dialogue. She has worked for many years to promote faith-based reconciliation, most recently as Director of Partnerships with Religions for Peace International, an organisation affiliated to the United Nations. Sarah has also directed the Cambridge International Summer Schools for faith leaders from conflict zones. A trained mediator, she has experience both of working with communities and with senior religious leaders.

Sarah is Founding Director of the Rose Castle Foundation, an international centre of reconciliation, based in the north of England, offering safe space in which to address misunderstanding of the “other”, particularly those of different religious traditions. Located in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, it is a peaceful haven in which to transform conflict within and between faith communities, and to train up a generation of leaders equipped as faith-based mediators. It is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, and Professor David Ford, and welcomes people of all faith traditions and none.

Sarah also collaborates with St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the City of London, supporting individuals and communities to work together despite their differences and divisions. St Ethelburga’s is situated in a church destroyed by a bomb in 1993, and is itself a powerful symbol of hope in the midst of conflict.

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin said:

“I am delighted that Sarah Snyder will be my Advisor for Reconciliation. Sarah brings a wealth of experience and many gifts to the role which will enrich both her reconciliation work and the senior team at Lambeth Palace. I am also grateful for the continued partnership with Coventry Cathedral where my reconciliation ministry will continue to be based. Events in recent weeks remind us that that reconciliation is more of a priority than ever – this is the hope we offer in the good news of Jesus.”

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Bishops accused of failing to act on safeguarding complaints

Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian has a report concerning safeguarding in the Diocese of Sheffield:

Senior Anglican clergy accused of failing to act on rape allegations

The archbishop of York and four serving bishops have been accused of misconduct by a Church of England priest who claims they failed to act on allegations he was repeatedly raped by another vicar when he was 16.

The priest says none of the five senior clergy properly responded to his disclosures, made verbally and in writing, of the rapes which he alleged took place in 1984.

“Michael” – whose identity is known to the Guardian, but who wishes to remain anonymous – filed the complaints under the C of E’s clergy disciplinary measure (CDM) against John Sentamu, the archbishop of York and second highest-ranking figure in the church; Peter Burrows, the bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, a former bishop of Sheffield, and now bishop of Oxford; Martyn Snow, the bishop of Leicester; and Glyn Webster, the bishop of Beverley.

All five have contested the complaints because they were made after the church’s required one-year limit.

Spokespersons for Sentamu and the four bishops said they could not comment on a matter that was the subject of an internal church process and a police investigation…

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Next Bishop of Tewkesbury to be Robert Springett

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury: Robert Wilfrid Springett
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 25 July 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett, BTh, MA, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, in the Diocese of Gloucester, to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury, in the Diocese of Gloucester in succession to the Right Reverend Martyn James Snow, BSc, on his translation to the See of Leicester resignation on the 22 February 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Robert Springett (aged 53), studied at Nottingham University for his BTh, and then at London University for his MA. He trained for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College. He served first as curate at Colchester in Chelmsford diocese from 1989 to 1992 before moving to be curate at Basildon from 1992 to 1994. From 1994 to 2001 he was Priest in Charge at Belhus Park and South Ockendon. He was Rural Dean at Thurrock from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he was Rector at Wanstead in Chelmsford diocese and was Area Dean of Redbridge from 2008 to 2010 and Honorary Canon at Chelmsford Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Archdeacon of Cheltenham.

Robert has also held a wider role locally and nationally over the past six years. Locally these include being the Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, a Trustee of All Saints Academy and a member of the Council of the University of Gloucester. Nationally Robert is a Bishop’s Advisor for the Church on the selection of men and women for ordination and a member of the National Archdeacons Forum.

Robert is married to Helen, who is a primary head teacher and they have two daughters, Charlotte aged 22 and Alice aged 17.

His interests include the churches ministry in education and wider relationships within the Anglican community.

Announcement from the Diocese of Gloucester

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Bishop of Sodor and Man to retire

Robert Paterson, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced that he will retire on 11 November 2016: Bishop Robert announces his retirement.

BBC News Bishop of Sodor and Man Robert Paterson to retire

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 July 2016 at 6:04pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

32 evangelicals lack confidence in shared conversations process

32 members of the General Synod have signed a statement which has been published on the Anglican Mainstream website. The full text of the statement and the list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The matter has been reported in Christian Today by Harry Farley. His story is headlined Divisions deepen in Church of England as conservatives express ‘lack of confidence’ in gay marriage talks.

He notes that Lambeth Palace has declined to comment on the statement.

It was also reported in Anglican Ink by George Conger who noted that the 32 were “members of the 1990 Group on General Synod” and that the statement has been sent in a letter to the College of Bishops. His article is headlined General Synod shared sex conversations place unity above truth, critics charge.

“We, the undersigned members of the General Synod, wish to express our lack of confidence in the process of the Shared Conversations. Whatever their stated purposes, the outcome has not led to a greater confidence that the Church will be guided by the authoritative voice of the Scriptures, and its decisive shaping of traditional Anglican teaching, in any forthcoming discussions.”

Rosemary Lyon – Blackburn
Stephen Boyall – Blackburn
Kathy Playle – Chelmsford
Mary Durlacher – Chelmsford
David Banting – Chelmsford
Debbie Woods – Chester
Jeremy Harris – Chester
Lorna Ashworth – Chichester
Andrea Minichiello Williams – Chichester
Rachel Bell – Derby
Giles Williams – Europe
Helen Lamb – Ely
William Belcher – Gloucester
Chik Kaw Tan – Lichfield
Shaun Morris – Lichfield
Chris Gill – Lichfield
Debbie Buggs – London
Sarah Finch – London
Clive Scowen – London
Charlie Skrine -London
Margaret Parrett – Manchester
Caroline Herbert – Norwich
Graham Caskie – Oxford
Andrew Bell – Oxford
Andrew Presland – Peterborough
Mark Lucas – Peterborough
Ian Dobbie – Rochester
Angus MacLeay – Rochester
Jane Patterson -Sheffield
Brian Wilson – Southwark
Susie Leafe – Truro
Chris Fry – Winchester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 July 2016 at 2:39pm BST | Comments (115) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Bishop of London to retire

The diocese of London has announced that Dr Richard Chartres is to retire as Bishop of London on Tuesday 28 February 2017. The Bishop writes:

After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.

Read the press release here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 at 11:42am BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 July 2016

Reflections on the Shared Conversations

A number of people have commented on the Shared Conversations that formed part of the July General Synod at York.

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod members thanked for staying on to talk about differences

Mark Woods Christian Today Shared Conversations: Why the Church of England still has a long way to go on sexuality

Lucy Gorman Shared thoughts from the Shared Conversations.

Andrew Dotchin Thoughts on A Shared Conversation:

Ian Paul Synod’s Shared Conversations

Andrea Williams Christian Concern responds to C of E ‘shared conversation’

Stephen Lynas She said “You don’t understand what I said” *

Gary Waddington SHARED CONVERSATIONS AND THE EVANGELICAL ASCENDANCY: AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS?

Hannah Cleugh Sharing in Conversations

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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Further points on the George Bell case

Updated Thursday evening

We reported in March that the George Bell Group had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The challenge was in a report published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Yesterday, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, Church of England lead bishop on safeguarding, issued this letter to the George Bell Group: Further points on the George Bell case.

Update

Several questions were asked at General Synod on Friday 8 July relating to the George Bell case. The questions and answers are printed in this booklet, but for convenience they are copied below the fold. In addition I have transcribed the supplementary questions and answers from this recording; they are shown indented.

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Church Commissioners:
Q17 It is understood that the Church Commissioners paid, or contributed to, the £15,000 paid in settlement of a civil claim regarding alleged sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. Will the Church Commissioners please (i) confirm the accuracy of this information and, if others (whether insurers, the Diocese of Chichester or any other accountable Church institution) contributed to the settlement, state the amount(s) of their respective contributions, and (ii) state whether, in addition, the Church Commissioners made any, and if so what, financial contribution to (a) the complainant’s legal costs (including any success fee) and expenses, and/or (b) the costs and expenses (including the fees of experts) of the Diocese of Chichester incurred in relation to the said claim.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith to reply as First Church Estates Commissioner:
A The Commissioners contributed to the settlement of the claim, but did not pay the whole. The damages paid were £16,800 and the claimant’s legal costs were £15,000. In addition, the Diocese of Chichester’s costs were £18,000. These figures include the costs of a medical expert instructed by the claimant and another instructed by the Diocese of Chichester. The Commissioners paid £29,800 towards the damages and costs, with the balance being funded by a donation from a private individual, not an insurer or another Church institution.

David Lamming: I thank Sir Andreas for his answer and for the additional information given. But in the light of the answer will you say whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and if so whether they declined to do so, who in fact was the putative defendant on whose behalf the settlement was reached with the claimant, and I am assuming that court proceedings were not issued, and will you please state the particular speciality of the medical experts instructed respectively by the claimants and by the diocese of Chichester.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: Thank you. You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs as you will probably know and we make judgments on what costs to bear depending on a variety of factors. In this case the answers are really clear in my answer; I don’t think I can add to them. There are the damages, there are the claimant’s legal costs, and there are the diocese of Chichester’s costs and we paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I can’t add to that.

Martin Sewell (Rochester): There’s a very simple question on the table: Did any insurer decline to indemnify?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I’ve no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.

Martin Sewell: Who would know if an insurer …

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The diocese of Chichester would know.

Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the diocese of Chichester, I’m afraid.

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q32 The Chichester Diocese publishes on its website a comprehensive 54 page report by Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss into its handling of the cases of sexual predators Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard; that report balances victim confidentiality with the public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. Given the continuing public concern at the handling of the case of Bishop Bell, will the Church now issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case but not the other?

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q33 In answer to a question from Miss Prudence Dailey (Q.13) at the February 2016 Group of Sessions concerning the response of the Church to allegations made against the late Bishop George Bell, the Bishop of Durham stated that it was “legally impermissible for the Church to disclose any evidence used in the settlement [of the claim against the Diocese of Chichester]” and that the law “rightly affords [the complainant] protection to safeguard the confidentiality of their deeply personal information.” In the light of
i. The call by the George Bell Group [1] for a proper review of both the process and the evidence that resulted in the statement issued by the Church of England media centre on 22 October 2015 effectively branding Bishop Bell as a paedophile;
ii. The Opinion by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC and Desmond Browne QC [2] that there are no legal constraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents (suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity) that the Church considered before settling the claim; and iii. The fact that Dame Lowell Goddard has stated that “Bell’s guilt or innocence is not a critical aspect of this Inquiry, or of the Anglican investigation, or of the investigation’s case studies,” [3 and 3] so that any reliance by the Church that the Goddard Inquiry will investigate this issue is misplaced;
Will the House of Bishops now commission an independent inquiry as called for by the George Bell Group and, if not, why not?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A I will take Questions 32 and 33 together. I refer both questioners to the statement issued by the Church of England on 28 June in which it was announced that an independent review of the handling of the George Bell case would be launched shortly. The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learnt to improve safeguarding practice in the future. It will be for the independent reviewer to consider what evidence they deem to be relevant and publish in due course their view of any lessons learned from the Church’s handling of the case.
It should be noted that the Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to those who make allegations of abuse.

David Lamming: I thank the Bishop of Durham for his answer and for the announcement, post the date for submitting questions, that there is to be an independent review, not just a review by the Core Group. However the review announced on the 28th June is only into the processes used to inform the decision to settle the claim by the woman know as Carol, but the review will not be credible unless it examines all the evidence, and in the House of Bishops [sic] the 30th June the Bishop of Chelmsford said “The Church remains satisfied of the credibility of Carol’s allegation.” Will the Bishop, and perhaps on behalf of his successor, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, please now acknowledge that the terms of reference of the review must enable the reviewer both to review the process and to look at all the evidence including that that was not looked at by the Core Group.

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that supplementary. The independent reviewer has yet to be appointed, the terms of reference will have to be agreed with that independent reviewer, and it is that this will be around the process that was followed, and when that reviewer is there then that’s what they will be briefed to do.

Martin Sewell: You’ve answered two questions together. I’m going to have to refer. I refer first of all to Alan Pardoe’s opinion and Desmond Brown’s opinion, there are no legal restraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity. I refer back to comparing the Bell case to the Cotton and Pritchard case saying that in the one case that is already out there on the Chichester website it balances victim confidentiality with public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. So I then ask why does it apply to one case and not the other? It’s a very simple question. You tell us that there’s going to be a review. We don’t need to know if the review knows how to do this. We need to know if there is a core competence in the Church’s people to do this sort of thing and to understand the law on confidentiality and how it applies in each and every case. We can’t assume that tht competence is there because we’ve not seen it demonstrated.

Chair: Do you want to put that into a question then please?

Martin Sewell: Yes, it’s very simple. Will you issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case, that’s Cotton and Pritchard, and not in the other, Bishop Bell. It’s a very simple question.

Bishop of Durham: The simple reality is you may quote two lawyers and I could quote others, which I won’t, who would disagree with that opinion. The review will take place and there is not an exact equivalence between the Butler-Sloss report and how the Bell case was handled and the report that has come out.

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q36 In the light of the Bishop Bell case, has any consideration been given to the view that offering pastoral support to the complainant, independently investigating the complaint, dispassionately evaluating the evidence, and simultaneously managing crises whilst protecting the good name of the Church are incompatible objectives; and will consideration now be given to establishing a properly resourced, consistent, professional and independent central complaint handling body, removing the responsibility from dioceses with potentially variable expertise and processes?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A Developing a more consistent and professional approach to safeguarding across the dioceses and nationally is one of our key priorities as a church, recognising of course that good safeguarding is fundamentally something that takes place in a parish context. There are a number of key elements to achieving this through national policy and guidance, regulations, training and quality assurance, including the independent audits being conducted across all dioceses during 2016 and 2017. These audits provide an important benchmark and areas for further improvement for dioceses and the national church. The intention to develop a standards based approach will include how we provide pastoral and other support to those who are accused as well as those who make complaints of abuse. Indeed a recent case review conducted by the National Safeguarding Team has highlighted this very issue. The Church of England must remain committed to responding to non-current abuse and abuse in the present day, as well as building a safer church for the future based on prevention.

Prudence Dailey: Has any consideration been given to the potential for conflict of interest in the Church carrying out the various different functions alluded to in my question in relation to the Bishop Bell case?

Bishop of Durham: Quite specifically in all these the history of conflict of interest is always taken into consideration. Every core group has to work at that particular bit on every example that we have.

Simon Butler (Southwark): In view of the fact that many of the allegations are made against clergy, will the bishop, or his successor, consult with the House of Clergy Standing Committee about procedures for putting in place future support and the work around those who have been accused of abuse?

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that question. One of the areas that has caused some concern is the level of support for clergy when they face allegations and that is firmly on the agenda to seek to make sure that they are given adequate pastoral support when going through such processes because they are deeply painful and difficult.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

LGBTI Mission responds to shared conversations

This press release was issued yesterday by LGBTI Mission:

LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion (see text below) awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.

An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation (see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118) to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process

Press release from the Church of England:

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016

Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.

Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.

In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.

That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Sexuality news and comment

While the General Synod conversations are proceeding behind closed doors, a chance to catch up on various recent items of news and comment…

Harry Farley ChristianToday No compromise: Die-hard conservatives walk out of Anglican talks on gay relationships

Harriet Sherwood reported in the Guardian that C of E hardliners to boycott synod talks on same-sex relationships.

Andrew Lightbown Julian Henderson and ‘the case for a conservative approach.’
The Church Times article being critiqued is here, but behind the paywall. However, there is another article in the comment section this week which is available: ‘I’d love the consensus to change, but it’s a dream’.

Lucy Gorman just retired as chair of Changing Attitude wrote Going anywhere nice?

Tracey Byrne of LGCM has published URC Assembly and General Synod - thanksgiving and hope.

Andrew Nunn published Prorogued but not ended.

Meanwhile, over at the Canadian General Synod (and yes, we will report on this later) the Secretary-General has been speaking: Sexuality not just an issue in the West, says Idowu-Fearon
The full text of his address is here.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

General Synod - Saturday's business

Updated Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England continued today.

The order paper for the morning and afternoon is here Order paper II. Not included is item 10 (Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders) that was not taken on Friday because of lack of time but for which time became available at the end of the afternoon.
Order paper for the evening session: Order Paper III

The morning, and part of the afternoon, was devoted to legislation.

One later item in the afternoon was about education, and was followed by this official press release: Bold vision for education launched at General Synod.

Official brief summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Saturday

Update

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Green light for vicars in jeans as Synod decides clergy’s robes are surplice to requirements

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Handbags and gladrags.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England is bidding to open scores of free schools

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England plans to open 125 faith schools using Government’s free schools programme in next four years

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WATCH calls for Gender Justice in the Church of England

Press Release from WATCH

WATCH Launches “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at General Synod

Women and the Church (WATCH) launched “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at a joint fringe event at the July General Synod including 10 specific commitments.

Synod members heard from Christian Aid, USPG and the Mothers’ Union how gender justice has come to form a crucial element of their international development work. They also heard that the Anglican Communion has now signed up to the global ‘Side by Side’ movement for gender justice. So that this can be put into action locally, WATCH has prepared a ‘Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England’ which it will be asking the church to adopt.

Speaking at the launch, Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said, “whilst some progress had been made in gender justice in recent years, most notably Women Bishops, now is the time for the Church of England to embody and promote gender justice both in its internal structures and in its external engagement with the world”.

As a next step following the pattern of our sister churches, the Church in Wales (2008) and the Scottish Episcopal Church (2009), WATCH recommends that the following Synod motion be proposed:

That this Synod, affirming its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, invites the undertaking of a Gender Audit at every level of the Church of England in time to report back to the General Synod in 2019

More information is contained in this document: A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England.

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Friday, 8 July 2016

General Synod - Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning to add more press reports, and on Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England has opened.

There is a live video stream here.

The agenda and other papers are available here.

Order Paper I listing all the day’s business. Synod agreed to vary the order of business after item 6 to that on page 4.

Scroll down for press reports.

As announced last week, the Archbishops have added a motion on the EU Referendum, which will be debated this afternoon. The text of the motion is:

The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

One amendement to the motion was carried so that it became:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:
a) welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task; and
b) commend the work already carried out by the Church in bringing communities together and recommend that as a minimum every bishop identify a champion in their diocese to assess what more the Church could do and to make recommendations for creating stronger and more constructive links between local communities as a basis for achieving this common task.

in which form it was clearly carried on a show of hands.

There’s an official press release: Synod approves motion to build a ‘generous and forward looking country’ in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, and texts of the speeches by the two archbishops: Canterbury and York.

Questions were taken after dinner. The booklet of questions and answers, issued in advance, is here. The Synod session only dealt with supplementary questions and answers.

Audio recordings of the day’s debates are made available here, and (the questions session) here.

There is a brief official summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Friday

Press reports

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams and Tim Wyatt Church Times Look forward with generosity, Synod urges a divided nation

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Christians urged to “build generous forward looking country”

Harry Farley Christian Today General Synod: Church of England opts to ‘recognise’ EU referendum result despite opposition

John Bingham The Telegraph
Church of England vicar says Brexit vote is not just a cry of ‘incoherent rage’

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘Lasses’ jobs’ replacing industry led to Brexit vote, says clergyman

Tom Richmond Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls upon post-Brexit Britain to evoke spirit of Nelson Mandela

Sunday update

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Time is tight.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated

Comment and news looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Burden of Legislative Reform

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Battle looms in Church of England over ‘blessings’ for gay marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bans mankinis in the pulpit

Updates

Harry Farley Christian Today Shared Conversations: Can the Church of England prevent a split over gay marriage?

David Walker ViaMedia.News Bishop’s Packing Essentials for General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Apart from a big fight over homosexuality, what else is happening at General Synod?

Archbishop Cranmer Synod ‘No Confidence’ motion looms in secret trial of Bishop George Bell (RIP)

Stephen Lynas The weekend starts here

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit - Now is not the time for Reconciliation.

Updates

Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit - Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

EU Referendum and General Synod

The Church of England issued this press release this afternoon.

Addition to General Synod agenda
30 June 2016

Following the result of the EU Referendum on 23 June, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have exercised their powers under the General Synod’s Standing Orders to make some time available at its brief Group of Sessions in July for a debate on a motion endorsing the Archbishops’ recent call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.

The debate will take place on the afternoon of Friday 8 July.

The wording of the motion will be made available to Synod members early next week.

The current Synod programme for Friday afternoon can be seen here. The Archbishops’ statement, referred to in the press release, is here.

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Still more documents for the Shared Conversations

Two more documents need to be added to the list of items that relate to the Shared Conversations that have been mentioned here previously, see here and here.

First there is the St Michael’s House Protocols (not a new document).

Second, there is this new Frequently Asked Questions document. This is copied below the fold.

General Synod Shared Conversation – FAQs

1. What should I bring for the Shared Conversation at General Synod?

It is important that you bring with you the programme for the two days and your copy of the St Michael’s House Protocols. It would also be helpful to bring a Bible, a notebook and a pen.

2. Can I use social media during the Shared Conversation?

The St Michael’s House Protocols (which underpin the Shared Conversation) highlight the importance of creating a private space in which all feel welcome and respected and in which those taking part commit to becoming mutual and interdependent participants for the duration of the process. In order for this to be possible, it is essential that all participants are fully present – physically, mentally and emotionally – in the process. It is also important that only thosen who have committed to working within the guidelines of the St Michael’s House Protocols are part of the Shared Conversation while it is taking place. As such, the Shared Conversation will be private sessions of synod, with no fringe meetings, media presence or live streaming. For the same reason, participants are asked to refrain from using any form of social media throughout the two days and are requested not to communicate information about the Conversation by text, email or phone while the Conversation is going on. Participants are encouraged to take notes of anything you would like to remember from the Shared Conversation, but to do this in writing and not by taking photographs. You are also encouraged to share any learning that you have acquired from the process after it is over. Any reflections on the Shared Conversations after they have finished must, of course, adhere to the St Michael’s House Protocols. In
practical terms, this involves:

  • Speaking for yourself only and not for others
  • Ensuring that your descriptions honour the confidentiality of the conversation by avoiding any information which might disclose the
  • Not using any information about another participant to that person’s disadvantage
  • Not attributing words or actions to any individual

3. What should I wear for the Shared Conversations?

All participants are encouraged to wear casual, comfortable clothes. We have found in the Regional Shared Conversations that both clergy and lay participants found it helpful for clergy not to wear clerical dress, if possible.

4. Will I be in the same group for the whole process?

Yes, you will be with the same facilitator and the same group of around 20 participants for the duration of the Shared Conversation. Sometimes you will work in smaller sub-sets within that group.

5. Do I need to go to every session?

Yes. At the heart of the Shared Conversation is a commitment made by each participant to their fellow participants in the process. This implies a commitment to engage fully with all of the sessions. The Shared Conversation has been carefully designed from start to finish and its benefits, for both individuals and the whole of synod, will be greatly reduced if participants miss sessions.

6. Do we get some time off during the Shared Conversation?

The Shared Conversation is, by its very nature, an intense process, so time for rest and reflection is essential. Participants have free time after dinner on both evenings, as well as an extended lunch break of two hours on Monday. There will, of course, also be a tea and coffee break each morning and afternoon.

7. Will I have to talk about my sexuality?

Participants are encouraged to engage with the Shared Conversation as fully as possible but no one will be forced to disclose any personal information of any kind. If talking about human sexuality as part of your personal faith journey is important to you, please do so. But participants should not disclose anything which they feel unsafe to share.

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EGGS publishes resource for shared conversations

The Evangelical Group of the General Synod, EGGS, has issued this document to its members and friends ahead of the shared conversations scheduled to start on 10 July.

As it says:

This resource is offered to EGGS members and friends in order to help us engage in formal/informal discussions which might arise as part of/around the Shared Conversations in York.

The ideas/opinions/statements expressed (in bold) are amongst those that members might hear articulated and which we believe can (and need) to be responded to. The thoughts/responses offered are a resource from the (elected members of) the Committee to help reflection on the likely issues and questions. They do not necessarily reflect the view of all EGGS members or friends.

The document contains 14 questions and suggested answers. Do read it all carefully.

PS at the present time, the website of EGGS appears to be down.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Attendance at the House of Bishops by women

In 2013 the House of Bishops decided to give eight senior women clergy elected regionally (“regional representatives) the right to attend their meetings. The intention at the time was that this arrangement would last until there were six female members of the House.

The House of Bishops has now decided “to give six female Suffragan Bishops rights of attendance at the House, in addition to the female members of the House, replacing the arrangements for the Regional Representatives.” These new arrangements will come into effect from 1st December 2016. [See paragraph 14 of GS Misc 1144.]

The membership of the House of Bishops is

  • all 42 diocesan bishops of the Church of England;
  • the Bishop of Dover;
  • the Bishop to the Forces; and
  • seven suffragan bishops elected from among the total number of suffragan bishops, (four from the Province of Canterbury, and three from the Province of York).

At present there are two female diocesans (Gloucester and Newcastle), and one of the elected suffragans (Stockport) is a woman. There are a further seven female suffragans.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Independent review into handling of George Bell case

Updated to add press reports

The Church of England has today announced an independent review into the handling of the George Bell case, as this press release explains.

Independent review into handling of George Bell case
28 June 2016

An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today in accordance with the House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases.

The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations. A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.

The review will be commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.

The Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to survivors. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations in this case.

The review will look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013. It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of expert independent reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case. The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings cannot be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator is dead.

Details of the review including Terms of Reference and name of the independent reviewer will be announced at a later date.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner said; “As in any serious safeguarding situation it is always important to learn lessons from the process and this review will ensure this is done.

“I have, however, made it absolutely clear that the survivor in the case be reassured that we will do everything we can to continue to support her as we have done throughout this process. Like her, we recognise gravity of this matter, given its impact on the national and international reputation of Bishop George Bell.

“I hope that the review will provide a constructive way forward for all concerned.

Along with my colleagues in the wider Church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty.”

Notes

House of Bishop’s guidance: Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations

Original statement on George Bell

Points on a complex case; blog by Gabrielle Higgins, Chichester Diocesan Secretary

The George Bell Group recently published this Compendium of Selected Sources covering the period 22 October 2015 - 21 June 2016.

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England orders review into handling of George Bell sex abuse case

BBC News Bishop George Bell: Review to look at ‘abuse’ case

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Church responses to the EU Referendum

Updated Friday evening, Saturday morning, Sunday morning

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint statement.

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe has written a message to the diocese, copied below, and has also published this further reflection.

“The UK referendum campaign has been a bruising one, and I hope very much that there will now be a period of reconciliation and healing between those on different sides of the debate.

“The news that a majority of those in the UK wishes to leave the UK does not lessen the fervent desire of the Church of England Diocese in Europe to work co-operatively with our brother and sister Christians in Europe.

“The vote will, however, have particular implications for some members of our diocese. Of course, the vote itself only signals the intent to launch a long process of negotiations with the European Council. It is only as that process gets underway that we will know exactly how UK citizens living in Europe will be affected. Meanwhile, I want to assure our ecumenical partners in Europe of our heartfelt and continuing commitment to them.”

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has written: We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling.

Updates

Scottish Primus

Archbishop of Dublin and Archbishop of Armagh

Church in Wales bishops

Bishop of Blackburn

Bishop of Coventry

Bishop of Leeds

Bishop of Liverpool

Bishop of London

Bishop of Newcastle

Bishop of Norwich

Bishop of St Albans

Bishop of Sheffield

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 June 2016 at 1:50pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 23 June 2016

More reading for the Shared Conversations

As if there wasn’t enough material already, there are two large official documents in addition to the two small ones linked in this article.

There is a Faith and Order Commission report GS Misc 1139 Communion and Disagreement.

And there is a supplementary document, linked from the Faith and Order Commission page, and now available over here.

The FAOC page says:

…FAOC’s report on Communion and Disagreement was published in June 2016 and circulated to members of General Synod as a GS Misc, to support the process of shared conversations in the Church of England and the discussion and discernment that continue beyond it. It was approved for publication and commended for study by the House of Bishops…

Members of the drafting group for Communion and Disagreement have also made available five supporting ‘dialogue’ papers. As the Chair of FAOC explains in his Preface to the papers, they are being made available ‘for those who might like to follow up particular aspects of it or find out more about some of the background and related issues. Unlike the report, however, the content of these supporting papers has not been approved by the Commission and does not come with its authority.’

So there you have it. GS Misc 1139 is 41 pages long. The supporting papers document is 80 pages.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 23 June 2016 at 3:43pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: Mark David Ashcroft

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: Mark David Ashcroft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 22 June 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft as Suffragan See of Bolton in the Diocese of Manchester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft, MA, Archdeacon of Manchester, in the Diocese of Manchester, to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher Paul Edmondson, MA, on his resignation on the 30 June 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Mark Ashcroft (aged 61), studied at Worcester College, Oxford for his MA, and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was awarded his BA. He trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served as curate at Burnage in Manchester diocese from 1982 to 1985 before moving to be a tutor at St Paul’s School of Divinity Kapsabet in Kenya from 1986 to 1990, and then Principal from 1990 to 1995. He returned to Manchester in 1996 to be Rector of Christ Church, Harpurhey till 2009. He was Area Dean of North Manchester from 2000 to 2006. He was also Honorary Canon at Manchester Cathedral from 2004 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Archdeacon of Manchester and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral.

Mark Ashcroft is married to Sally and they have 3 children. His interests include gardening, bird watching and walking the dog. He is a supporter of England teams, whatever the sport.

From the Manchester diocesan website: The new Bishop of Bolton

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Amazing Love: a new book published

Darton, Longman and Todd has published a new book: Amazing Love, Theology for Understanding Discipleship, Sexuality and Mission.

Read the publisher’s press release describing the content of the book.

You can also read the preface, written by Mark Russell: available here.

…This book is a resource that will stimulate and encourage us to form questions in a new way so we don’t talk past each other or, worse, shout at each other. You may agree with the book or disagree with it, but it will help you consider how we can help LGBT people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ in their lives. I am grateful to Andrew and his colleagues for this new book and I commend it to you.

The LGBTI Mission has published a press release, Christians called to accept same-sex relationships:

LGBTI Mission, the recently formed Church of England campaign organisation, welcomes a new book, Amazing Love, published by Darton, Longman and Todd. This is the first fruit of the programme we launched in February. A working group met in Cambridge last January to plan this book, which has been edited by Dr Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

The book shows that there is a clear theological rationale for Christians to accept committed same-sex relationships. It is aimed at readers who may not have any formal theological training.

It does not take a specific view about how the Church should respond to same-sex marriage and thus it is hoped it will win over many of those who are not already irrevocably opposed to same-sex relationships.

Publication is timed to make the book available for the forthcoming sexuality conversations being held at the Church of England’s General Synod in York (10 to 12 July) but it should interest Christians of all denominations in Britain, and is ideal for use in discussion groups by local churches.

Copies are being sent this week to all members of the General Synod, thanks to grants made by three of LBGTI Mission’s partners: Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

The formal launch of the book will be at a reception in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster on 29 June.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Recent events highlight the timeliness of this book. Christians need to consider urgently whether the traditional conservative attitude towards same-sex relationships is still a sustainable view in today’s world. This book shows that it is possible to disagree.”

The book is mentioned in this report from the Church Times New books say that taking a hard line on sexuality will damage mission which also discusses Journeys in Grace and Truth.

…The book includes reflections on science. While emphasising that the sciences “can never provide a ‘trump card’ in ethical discussions,” the authors warn that: “We would lose credibility in mission if we still proclaimed that the world was made in six 24-hour days. We risk looking foolish if we talk about same-sex attraction and relationships without paying full attention to the full range of what there is to know on that score.”

They also draw on previous shifts in the Church’s teaching, including beliefs about slavery (“It took time — far too much time — for Christians to connect their understanding of the good news with their views on slavery.”). A study of key biblical passages concludes that they pose questions that “make it difficult to build a solid case against same-sex relationships”.

The book addresses perceived weaknesses in the arguments of both sides, warning that “many of the loudest voices . . . have been arguing in a one-dimensional way”. While one side has “talked about scripture as if interpretation was not a demanding task”, the other has “too often made experience its one source, and has too often treated scripture as a problem, rather than as the Christian foundation.

“Similarly, it has often treated reason as almost synonymous with feelings and fallen foul of what C. S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ in its willingness to elevate itself above the tradition of Christian theology, philosophy and ethics.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 June 2016 at 10:47pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 June 2016

Agenda for July 2016 General Synod - press reports

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England split over gay marriage may be unavoidable, admits Welby’s chief of staff

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams Church Times Talk nicely or else, Synod members are counselled ahead of sex talks

[The Timetable for the Shared Conversations and the Grace and Dialogue Booklet are available online.]

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph The ‘sincere’ schism: Church of England’s etiquette guide for gay marriage rows

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Agenda for July 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

I have listed the online papers here.

Agenda published for the July 2016 General Synod York meeting
17 June 2016

The Agenda for the July meeting of the General Synod is published today. Members will gather in York on Friday 8 July until Saturday 9 July. A key focus during these two days will be how the Church’s vision for a growing, confident and hopeful church can be put into action through the Renewal and Reform Programme.

The Church’s governing body will discuss the vision and narrative for Renewal and Reform and key changes to legislation to make innovation and change easier for those engaged with church life at all levels. The Legislative Reform Measure will make it possible to amend or repeal some Church legislation by means of Orders approved by the Synod. Several other proposed pieces of new legislation will consolidate existing provisions into a more user-friendly form and repeal provisions which are obsolete. There will also be an opportunity for Synod to discuss a report from the Development and Appointments Group updating Synod on the progress of their work on the training and development of senior Church leaders.

The Synod will also discuss a report on “A Church of England Vision for Education” with reference to the establishment of a foundation for education and leadership. The Synod will also examine Annual Reports from both the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council.

Aside from legislation linked to Renewal and Reform, Synod will also consider legislation which gives effect to two private members’ motions which were previously passed by the Synod. The amending legislation relates to forms of vesture requirements for ministers and providing for those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the normal burial service.

Synod will also be addressed by Bishop Ralf Meister of the German Evangelical Church, who will look ahead to the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It will receive a report from the Archbishop of York on his 6 month pilgrimage.

The formal proceedings of the Synod will end on Saturday 9 July.

Following a service on 10 July at York Minster, members of the Synod will take part in Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality - following the regional sessions that concluded earlier this year - until Tuesday.

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July General Synod - online papers

Updated Friday 24 June to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation All papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 8-12 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all the papers from both circulations

GS 2014A - Draft Measure and Pastoral Amendment Measure [Saturday]
GS 2014Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2023 - Agenda

GS 2024 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 2025 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 2026 - Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: Report from the Development And Appointments Group of the House of Bishops [Friday]

GS 2027 - Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Saturday]
GS 2027x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2028 - Draft Inspection of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2028x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2029 - Draft Amending Canon No.36 [Saturday]
GS 2029x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2030 - Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure [Saturday]
GS 2030x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2031 - Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2031x - Explanatory Memorandum plus Orgins & Destinations

GS 2032 - Draft Pensions Measure [Saturday]
GS 2032x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2033 - Clergy Discipline Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2033x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2034 - Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2034x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2035 - Amending Code of Practice under Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 [Saturday]
GS 2035x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2036 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2037 - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and others (Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2036-7x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2038 - A Vision for Renewal and Reform [Saturday]

GS 2039 - A Church of England Vision for Education: a Report from the Education Division [Saturday]

GS 2040 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2041 - Archbishops’ Council’s Budget [Saturday]

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Friday]

Other Papers

GS Misc 1138 - Giving for life Re-ignited

GS Misc 1139 - FAOC Report on Communion and Disagreement.
Further resources can be found by clicking here

GS Misc 1140 - Draft Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 - Code of Practice as amended

GS Misc 1141 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CDA Rules 2016

GS Misc 1142 - Audit Committee Annual Report

GS Misc 1143 - Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report

GS Misc 1144 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

GS Misc 1145 - Anglican-Methodist Joint Covenant Advocacy and Monitoring Group

GS Misc 1146 - Report of the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities

GS Misc 1147 - Crown Nominations Commission Report

Shared Conversations Material

Timetable - Sunday afternoon - Tuesday lunchtime

Grace and Dialogue Booklet

Frequently Asked Questions

St Michael’s House Protocols

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 17 June 2016 at 10:27am BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Bishops call for Church to change on gays

Updated Friday morning

A new book of essays, Journeys in Grace and Truth, edited by Jayne Ozanne, is launched this weekend. From the publicity:

Is it possible to hold a positive view of same-sex relationships while being a biblically rooted evangelical? These twelve senior Anglican Evangelicals believe so.

Journeys in Grace and Truth sets out the path each contributor has travelled to reach this point, involving moving encounters, scriptural exegesis and personal revelations. It is offered as a contribution to aid the discussion, and to broker deeper understanding between evangelicals and the wider Church.

Contributors include the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and the Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher, who have both been talking to the press.

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Leading evangelical bishops call for Church to change on gays

… Bishop Fletcher criticises the “immense” damage to “far too many good Christian people” by the Church’s attitude to gay people. Bishop Bayes says: “We need to change the Church – to make room and to extend the table.”…

This article includes a video of an interview with the Bishop of Liverpool, which can also be viewed on YouTube.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Senior bishop calls for change in C of E attitudes to gay people

A senior bishop associated with the Church of England’s evangelical wing has called for far-reaching change in the church’s attitudes to lesbian and gay people and a meaningful welcome to Christians in same-sex relationships.

Acknowledging that he has been “profoundly changed” by encounters with lesbian and gay Christians, including within his own family, Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, has said: “I have come to believe that we need to change the church.”

LGBT people have been bruised and broken by the church, he said…

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph Two bishops urge clerics to rethink ‘interpretations’ of the Bible which condemn homosexuality

The Diocese of Liverpool has published this article on its webpage: Church ‘must give a hearing to Evangelical Journeys of Acceptance for same-sex relationships’.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 16 June 2016 at 5:50pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Sentamu on homophobia

The Archbishop of York appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme today, and got into a spat with presenter Piers Morgan about homophobia. There’s a video here: Piers challenges Archbishop of York over gay rights.
[Some extensions to your browser might prevent the video playing.]

Press reports

Harry Farley Christian Today Archbishop of York clashes with Piers Morgan over gay marriage

The Archbishop of York became embroiled in a live TV argument over same-sex marriage on Wednesday morning as ITV presenter Piers Morgan accused him of homophobia.

Archbishop John Sentamu was appearing on Good Morning Britain when Morgan compared homophobia and racism. Sentamu, who is originally from Uganda, was visibly irritated at Morgan’s suggestions.

“This is the trouble I have with the people who argue that the question of sexuality is equal in terms of argument to the question of slavery.

“No, some of my relations died on the ships. Slavery was a very wrong thing.” …

Nick Duffy Pink News Archbishop John Sentamu: Homosexuality is not a sin, LGBT people were created in God’s image too

Antony Bushfield Premier Archbishop: ‘Not supporting gay marriage does not equal homophobia’

Nicola Agius Mirror Archbishop of York NOT happy as Piers Morgan compares homophobia to racism in heated gay marriage debate

Keiligh Baker Mail Online ‘The church ISN’T homophobic – I have lots of gay friends’: Archbishop of York in TV row with Piers Morgan as he is challenged over religious attitudes after Orlando massacre

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 at 6:23pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 June 2016

Church of England responds to Orlando shootings

email received at 1.23 pm Monday

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued the following joint statement in response to the shootings in Orlando:

Monday 13 June 2016
For immediate use

“After Sunday’s attack in Orlando as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification. The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being. Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.”

Other statements:

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Archbishop of Dublin

Bishop of Central Florida (whose diocese includes Orlando)

Numerous other American bishops

Statement from Integrity USA president

Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 2:17pm BST | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Liverpool and Akure

We linked in the previous article to a statement The Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Communion from Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. He wrote:

…Over a year ago, as part of this walking together, I asked the Suffragan bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Susan Goff, whether she would become one of our honorary assistant bishops (or “assisting bishops” as they call this sort of arrangement in TEC). She kindly accepted this invitation and, again last year, we secured the necessary permissions for her to minister here. As +Susan is an overseas bishop, these permissions do not extend to the conducting of ordinations. I remain delighted that our ministry here will be enriched by what +Susan will bring to us as a teacher, pastor and disciple. She will also be able to hear and to engage with the wide range of views in our Diocese on the way the Gospel is understood in these days.

It seems that this invitation has caused the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, which has been another of our link dioceses, to issue a statement indicating that they no longer wish to be in a link-relationship with Liverpool. I regret this. I would prefer to walk together with Akure as well as with Virginia, within the one Communion whose life we share.

I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Akure, but as and when I do I shall write to him expressing this regret. If our partners choose to close this door, this is a matter of sorrow for us but of course we respect their decision as free partners in a free relationship.

At one time this link was three-way and provided wonderful opportunities for sharing and mutual learning, though my colleagues tell me that five years ago, in 2011, the then Bishop of Akure formally indicated that his Diocese did not feel able to remain in such a three-way relationship…

Ruth Gledhill has now published an article Nigeria diocese severs link with Liverpool over same-sex blessings bishop.

This in turn links to a statement from the Bishop of Akure, Simeon Borokini. In which he says:

…Peace of the Lord be with you and all yours in Jesus name. I received a message from our Primate in Nigeria, who is currently the Chairman of GAFCON today about a partnership that is in the Western news. That there is a three way Diocesan partnership between the Diocese of Liverpool, England, the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the United States.

Also, that recently, the Diocese of Liverpool made the assisting Bishop of Virginia, Susan Goff, an assisting Bishop in Liverpool. Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia.

Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool Diocese…

There is also a letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in which he writes:

…In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church North America as a new wineskin in that continent. Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.

At our recent Primates Council meeting in Nairobi we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 June 2016 at 2:34pm BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Church of England Ministry Statistics 2012-2015

Updated Sunday morning

The Church of England has today released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015: Ministry Statistics 2012-2015. There is also a short commentary provided by the Venerable Julian Hubbard, Director of Ministry, and detailed Diocesan tables in a separate excel file. There is also a press release, copied below.

Press coverage includes:

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E in ageing clergy crisis with 25% of ministers aged over 60

Aaron James Premier Church of England: We need to Rev up clergy numbers

Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Peter Ould were interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (starting at 1hr 21min).

Ian Paul and Peter Ould write about the figures here: Do we have enough vicars?

Update

Jeremy Fletcher has written The Church of England’s Middle Aged Spread.

David Keen has written The Leading of the 5,000 part 2 - vocations and canaries.

Church of England press release

Church of England releases new Ministry Statistics

The Church of England has released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015.

The statistics show that total ordained ministry over the last 4 years has remained stable, with over 20,000 ordained people serving the church in various roles.

The number of stipendiary clergy has fallen from 8,300 to 8,000 between 2012 and 2015.

The proportion of stipendiary clergy who are women increased from 24% in 2012 to 27% in 2015. And 19% of senior staff in 2015 were women, up from 12% in 2012.

Nationally, 13% of parish clergy are aged under 40, while a quarter are 60 and over.

There was an increase in stipendiary clergy from Black and Minority Ethnic communities from 3% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2015.

In his commentary, the Church of England Director of Ministry, Julian Hubbard, writes: “While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years.”

“The statistics on the age and ethnicity of clergy show that we still have some way to go to ensure that the whole cohort fully reflects the demographics of the wider community.”

“The good news is that there is a growing readiness to meet these challenges.”

Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform, the Church of England’s major response to falling church attendance, said: “These figures support what we have been saying about the need for renewal and reform in the Church of England.”

“Renewal and Reform is about a message of hope, through changed lives and transformed communities, as people discover their vocation to love God and serve others.

“Renewal and Reform is not a top-down project to fix the church, but a narrative of local hope in God shared throughout the church.”

“As part of Renewal and Reform, we are currently consulting on how we better release the gifts of all Christian leaders in church and wider society, whether ordained or not.”

Notes for editors

The last Ministry Statistics paper was published by the Church of England in 2012. The implementation of a new clergy payroll system in 2012 initially made it more difficult to extract data for ministry statistics.

The Ministry Statistics paper and Commentary are available here.

The Church of England’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 2 June 2016 at 9:40am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 May 2016

July General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the July General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 17 June 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2016
Timetable
Friday 8 July
1 pm — 2 pm Meeting of the House of Laity
2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Opening worship
Formal business
Presentation of the Pro-Prolocutors for the Convocation of Canterbury and the Deputy Prolocutors for the Convocation of York
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests
3.10 pm Presentation by the Archbishop of York on his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, including a short time of worship using the Pilgrimage Prayers
3.35 pm Presentation on the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, April 2016
3.50 pm Debate on the Report by the Business Committee
*4.30 pm Approval of appointments to the Archbishops’ Council
4.40 pm Take note debate on the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
5.30 pm Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: take note debate on a Report from the Development and Appointments Group of the House of Bishops
8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
8.30 pm Questions

Saturday 9 July
9.30 am — 1.00 pm
9.30 am Morning worship
Legislative Business
9.45 am Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure — Revision Stage
Legislative Reform Measure — First Consideration
Inspection of Churches Measure — First Consideration
Amending Canon No.36 — First Consideration
Statute Law (Repeals) Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Pensions Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules (deemed)
Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules (deemed)
Amending Code of Practice under the CDM (deemed)
Usual Fees Orders (deemed)

2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
Legislative Business (continued, if required)
4.30 pm Debate on a motion on a Vision and Narrative for Renewal and Reform
5.15 pm ‘A Church of England Vision for Education’ — take note debate on a report from the Education Division

8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
Financial Business
8.30 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2015
8.50 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Budget for 2017
*9.50 pm Prorogation

Sunday 10 July
10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster

2.30 pm on Sunday 10 July — 1pm on Tuesday 12 July
Shared Conversations
(a separate timetable will be issued in the first circulation)

*not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 May 2016 at 4:24pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Christine Wilson to be next Dean of Lincoln

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Lincoln: Christine Wilson

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 27 May 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christine Wilson to be appointed Dean of Lincoln.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christine Louise Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield, in the diocese of Derby, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lincoln, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Philip John Warr Buckler, MA, on 31 January 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Christine Wilson (aged 58) trained for her ordination at Southern Diocese Ministerial Training Scheme. She served her first title as Curate at Henfield with Shermanbury and Woodmancote, in the diocese of Chichester from 1997 to 2002. From 2002 to 2008 she was Team Vicar at St John the Baptist, Palmeria Square, Hove, in Chichester diocese, and from 2008 to 2010 was Vicar at Goring-by-the-Sea, in Chichester diocese. Since 2010 she has been Archdeacon of Chesterfield in the diocese of Derby.

She is married to Alan, a retired Head of Compliance for a division of an international bank. She has 2 daughters, her third daughter died when she was 29, and has 2 grandchildren.

Her interests include gardening, theatre and dance and hosting parties.

Lincoln diocesan website
Derby diocesan website

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 May 2016 at 10:22am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 May 2016

House of Bishops meeting reports

The House of Bishops met at Bishopthorpe this week and issued this press release afterwards:

Church of England House of Bishops Meeting May 2016
25 May 2016

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met on 23-24 May 2016.

On its first day the Bishops received an update on the shared conversations process, received a report from the Faith and Order Commission and discussed the contribution and vision of the Church of England on Education. A substantial amount of time was spent on safeguarding including receiving the report of the Elliot Review from the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally. A news release from Bishop Sarah can be found on the Diocese of Exeter website here: http://www.exeter.anglican.org/bishop-sarah-presents-safeguarding-review-recommendations-house-bishops/

In addition the House agreed to publish reports from the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) on safeguarding in addition to a report from FAOC on “Diversity, Difference and Serious Disagreement in the Life of the Church”.

On its second day the House received an oral report from the Archbishop of York on his recently completed pilgrimage and the lessons learned. The House also received an update from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the discussions on Intentional Discipleship at the 2016 Anglican Communion Consultative Council.

The House received and agreed to publish a discussion document on welfare reform from Revd Dr. Malcolm Brown and also discussed the work of the “Turning up the Volume” Group on senior appointments and minority ethnic clergy.

The House discussed and approved work on the Renewal and Reform programme and received an update on its work from the diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Liverpool, Mike Eastwood. The House also discussed legislative proposals relating to canon law to be brought to General Synod (Canon B8 & B38) as well as other reports to be brought before Synod.

The news release from Bishop Sarah Mullally is also copied below the fold.

BISHOP SARAH PRESENTS SAFEGUARDING REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS TO HOUSE OF BISHOPS

Posted: 25th May, 2016

The House of Bishops this week received and pledged support for the recommendations of the Elliott Review – an independent report into alleged sexual abuse committed by senior figures in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, who originally received the report at the request of the survivor, presented key points on the recommendations to the House of Bishops.

These include; improved training, particularly for senior staff, around receiving disclosures; working to ensure financial advice is never at the expense of a pastoral response; and a commitment to revise and strengthen safeguarding structures.

The independent Review, carried out by Ian Elliott, reported back in March. It had been commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team and Diocese of London to establish what lessons could be learnt from an examination of the case.

Speaking after the House of Bishops, Bishop Sarah said: “I am encouraged the House has given me the full support to lead on implementing the recommendations but equally I am aware that for survivors this will not seem like soon enough as they have struggled for years to have their voices heard. I am committed to ensuring that the learning points from the Review are rolled out across the Church of England as soon as possible. I would also like to repeat my apology to ‘Joe’ who suffered appalling abuse in this case.”

In December the Church of England had issued a statement about the review in response to a newspaper interview with the survivor, offering an unreserved apology and confirming that a settlement had been reached.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Church of Scotland approves the Columba Declaration

Updated Wednesday evening

The Church of Scotland reports today: Historic ecumenical agreement with Church of England approved.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has unanimously backed a landmark agreement to enter into an historic ecumenical partnership with the Church of England.

The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two denominations and will open up new future possibilities of closer working together to develop God’s Church…

Other reports on the decision include:

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Anglo-Scottish ecumenical agreement approved by Church of Scotland

The General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has this morning approved the Columba Declaration – an ecumenical agreement between it and the Church of England; and – in identical terms approved by the C of E’s General Synod in February – instructed the creation of an ecumenical “contact group” which would include representatives of the two churches and also the Scottish Episcopal Church…

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of Scotland passes landmark unity pact with Church of England

BBC News Archbishop of Canterbury in Church of Scotland General Assembly first

The text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Church of Scotland General Assembly includes this apology.

… First, for me at least, is an apology.

The Columba Declaration is one that I support strongly and I hope you will, but the handling of its announcement caused much consternation and deep hurt to the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). That hurt is exclusively my responsibility and I want to put on the record to you and to them my apology. We know that the goal of unity envisaged in the Columba Declaration cannot be pursued by some churches in isolation from others, and in our context that must mean a particular place for the Scottish Episcopal Church as your Anglican partner in Scotland, and as our immediate neighbour in the Anglican Communion (we have many close links, including ordained ministers moving between our two churches, as we do with the Church in Wales). For this reason there is great importance in the motion at our Synod saying that the Contact Group to take the Columba Declaration forward should include an SEC representative, whom we ask to be a full participant…

Our report on the initial announcement of the Declaration (on Christmas Eve) is here, and there are later reports here, here, here, here and here.

Update

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration – where are we now?

Statement by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission

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Monday, 16 May 2016

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

Updated Monday night

The Church Commissioners have issued their annual report for 2015 this morning, and the following accompanying press release.

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “I want to congratulate the investment team for the continued strong performance, delivering more than 8% in a challenging financial climate. Without this leadership and good stewardship it would not be possible to support the Church as we do. But we must not forget the generous support from parishes, dioceses and cathedrals which provide around three quarters of the Church’s annual spending on ministry and mission.”

First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith also congratulated the long-term performance but warned of harder times ahead due to the nervousness of investors: “The Commissioners’ fund has grown by an annual average of 9.7% over the past thirty years compared with an annual inflation rate during the same period of 3.4%,” he said. “Unfortunately it may be harder in the future to achieve such a satisfactory performance. My message to the wider Church is – don’t count on it. The nervousness of investors is explained by the feeling that governments have lost the power to reverse any slowdown in economic activity. In earlier time they would reduce interest rates, but now that rates hover around zero, that remedy is unavailable.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support strategic mission activities including:
  • Strategic Development Funding for large scale projects amounting to more than £6m, such as the Growing Younger initiative in Birmingham Diocese;
  • Supporting new churches to be planted across the country from a new City Centre Resourcing Churches fund, such as St Swithin’s, Lincoln;
  • Pioneering church workers in new communities such as the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London and a new housing estate in Exeter.

Growth and diversification

Notable performance was once again delivered in property, private equity and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and their property portfolio totalled just less than £2bn at the end of 2015 with an average return of 14.4%, generated through active management of a high quality set of properties.

The private equity portfolio continued to grow in the year, bringing the total to £87.7million. These strategies generated a combined return of 20.2% in 2015.

The Church Commissioners continued to invest in forestry with two new holdings in Australia, bringing the total holdings to nearly 120,000 acres. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 13% in 2015.

Responsible investment

The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2015 the Commissioners adopted a new climate change policy, setting out a comprehensive approach to climate change including how we divest, how we seek low-carbon investments and how we engage with companies and public policy. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

Notable work in 2015 included the Commissioners’ role in the Aiming for A initiative and the success of the shareholder resolutions on climate change disclosure that the Commissioners co-filed with BP and Shell. These were overwhelmingly passed at both companies, with the support of their respective boards.

Notes

The annual report can be download here. The annual review can be downloaded here.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners has commented on 2015’s results. Audio is available here, and video here. (1 min).

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, has commented on our responsible investment work in 2015. Audio is available here, and video here. (1:53 min)

Update

Press reports

Katie Allen The Guardian Church of England sells investments fearing market slowdown

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England invests in Google despite criticism of its tax record

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Friday, 6 May 2016

House of Commons: Question on Same-Sex Marriage for Clergy

A Question on Same Sex Marriage: Clergy was put to the Second Church Estates Commissioner on Thursday. Here is a transcript (scroll down for the other topics covered):

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)

1. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Church of England on supporting clergy who have entered into same sex marriages or civil partnerships.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I should first declare my personal position, which is that I voted in favour of same sex marriage when the decision was before Parliament, but I do recognise that it is difficult for the Anglican Church. The Anglican Communion extends over many different cultures and many continents, and not all cultures and societies move at the same pace. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the Archbishop of Canterbury managed to get a unanimous agreement among all the bishops of the Anglican Communion, in Canterbury, in January, that there should be a new doctrine condemning homophobic prejudice and violence, and resolving

“to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation.”

Cat Smith: I thank the right hon. Lady for her answer. She will be aware that many people feel called to ministry, including, naturally, many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Although Church of England policies protect heterosexual couples if they are in a marriage by not taking their status into account when it comes to jobs within the Church, the same is not true for those who have entered same sex marriages. Is she aware of cases of written permission from Bishops placed on file, and of refusals to issue licences when new positions are sought, including even secular positions? Will she do her best to ensure that LGBT clergy are not discriminated against here in the Church of England?

Mrs Spelman: As I mentioned, the Anglican Communion is extremely diverse. What we must remember, living here in the liberal west, is that a typical Anglican communicant is in Africa and black, female and under 35; in many African nations there are also very strong views on this subject, and keeping the Communion together is a big challenge. It is open to Church of England clergy to enter into civil partnerships, and many do so. The Church of England in England is moving forward in its understanding with a shared conversation, three parts of which have already occurred. In July this year, the Synod will move forward with the shared conversation about sexuality—the nature of human sexuality. I reiterate the point that the whole Communion agreed unanimously that the Church should never, by its actions, give any impression other than that every human being is the same in God’s sight regardless of sexuality.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): The Dean of Lichfield cathedral, Adrian Dorber, is always telling me how short of money the cathedral is. May I just say that I live for the day when gay clergymen can be openly gay and there will be gay marriages, which will be paid for in Lichfield cathedral and all the other cathedrals in England and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a liberal nation.

Mrs Spelman: I look forward to visiting the Lichfield diocese. Indeed, the Government have been very generous in their funding for repairs to that beautiful cathedral. On the specific subject of human sexuality, I do not think that the Archbishop of Canterbury could have been clearer about his leadership in bringing the whole Anglican Communion together for the first time, united behind the doctrine that we should condemn homophobic prejudice and violence at home and abroad.

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Suffragan Bishops

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this very useful article: Suffragan bishops: from selection to ordination & consecration.

Prompted by the forthcoming translation of the Bishop of Sheffield to Oxford he has also written Bishops: from announcement to installation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 April 2016 at 11:45am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Diocese to be known as ‘Diocese of Leeds’

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales has announced today that from later this year it will only use its official name, the Diocese of Leeds. Here is the official announcement.

Diocese to be known as ‘Diocese of Leeds’

Since its creation two years ago, the Diocese of Leeds has largely been known as ‘The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales’. However, given the confusion this continues to cause, in future, once new branding has been created, the diocese is to be known only by its official title, the Diocese of Leeds…

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Steven Croft to be next Bishop of Oxford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Oxford: Steven John Lindsey Croft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 12 April 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft as Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, Lord Bishop of Sheffield, in the Diocese of Sheffield for election as Bishop of Oxford in succession to the Right Reverend John Lawrence Pritchard, MA, MLitt, on his resignation on 31 October 2014.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft (aged 58) is from Halifax in West Yorkshire. He studied first at Worcester College, Oxford and then at St John’s College, Durham where he trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall. He served his title as Curate at St Andrew Enfield in London Diocese from 1983 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Halifax to be Vicar of St George, Ovenden in the Diocese of Wakefield. From 1996 he moved to become Warden at Cranmer Hall, Durham, before taking up the role of Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions in 2004. Since 2009 he has been the Bishop of Sheffield.

At the heart of Bishop Steven’s ministry in Sheffield has been a desire to connect the Church across the Diocese more deeply together as one body with a common sense of mission and purpose and to enable the diocese to engage with mission in the wider community with confidence and hope. He has worked creatively with Anglicans of all traditions in a very diverse diocese as well as with civic and community leaders and the leaders of other churches and other faiths.

Bishop Steven became a member of the House of Lords in 2013. He is 1 of 2 bishops elected to serve on the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, and has been chair of the Ministry Council since 2012. In 2008 he was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his work with fresh expressions. He is the author of a number of books on Christian life and ministry and a novel for children. He writes a regular blog.

Bishop Steven is married to Ann. They have 4 adult children and 1 grandchild. He is a keen cook and bakes his own bread.

Sheffield diocesan website: Current Bishop of Sheffield announced as the next Bishop for the Diocese of Oxford
and A Letter from Bishop Steven
Oxford diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford

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Monday, 4 April 2016

New Dean of Southwell announced

From the Southwell and Nottingham diocesan website today:

New Dean of Southwell announced

The Venerable Nicola Sullivan, currently Archdeacon of Wells, in the Diocese of Bath & Wells, will be the new Dean of Southwell, it was announced today…

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Friday, 1 April 2016

First annual report from the Independent Reviewer

The first annual report from the Independent Reviewer appointed under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Resolution of Disputes Procedure) Regulations 2014, Sir Philip Mawer, has been published and is available here.

It includes, at Appendix 3 (scroll down) a Note on the Legal and Canonical Status of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

Earlier material concerning the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests can be found on the CofE website here.

Forward in Faith has commented on this report.

Previous TA articles relating to earlier reports can be found here on Chrism Masses, and then here on All Saints Cheltenham, and also on the consultation paper discussed in the report, and on the Notes issued as the outcome of that.

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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Jo Wells to be next Bishop of Dorking

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dorking: Jo Wells
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 24 March 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jo Bailey Wells for election as Suffragan Bishop of Dorking.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jo Bailey Wells, MA, PhD, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the Suffragan See of Dorking in the Diocese of Guildford. She succeeds the Right Reverend Ian James Brackley, MA, on his resignation on 30 September 2015.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Dr Jo Bailey Wells (50) was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and then at University of Minnesota, USA. She trained for ordained ministry at St John’s College, Durham.

She was Chaplain of Clare College, Cambridge from 1995 to 1998 and Dean from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2005 Jo served as a lecturer in Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. From there she moved to North Carolina to be Director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies and Associate Professor of Bible and Ministry at Duke Divinity School. On her return to the UK in 2013 she took up the role of Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, based at Lambeth Palace. Since 2015 she has also served as Canon Theologian at Liverpool Cathedral.

Jo is married to the Reverend Dr Sam Wells, who is Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. They have 2 children. Her interests include art, architecture and textiles. Jo has spent a significant portion of her annual leave over many years in East Africa, most recently in supporting Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul in theological education in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

The Guildford diocesan website has Bishop of Dorking announced.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s website has Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain to be new Bishop of Dorking.

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Church of England settles another sex abuse claim

It was reported this week in both the Church Times and The Times that a settlement has been reached in the case of Professor Julie Macfarlane. This case was reported earlier here: Church of England criticised by survivor of sexual abuse.

Both these news articles are behind their respective paywalls. But the Church Times article says that Dr Macfarlane has agreed to accept £40,000 damages, and a further £40,000 to cover her legal costs.

It also says that A key part of the agreement is a “protocol-review meeting” with interested parties “to agree a protocol for the handling of claims for damages made by victims and survivors of abuse against a body within the Church of England”.

The meeting is to take place before 30 April, and “all endeavours” will be made to ensure that the protocol is in place before 30 June.

Update Tuesday
The full text of Church Times article is now available for all to read.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 6:51am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Group challenges naming of Bishop George Bell as a paedophile

The George Bell Group has sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The statement is copied in full below the fold.

The core members of the George Bell Group are listed here.

The full text of the report is published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Press Statement
George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures

20 March 2016

George Bell’s condemnation as a paedophile has been challenged by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The treatment of George Bell has been taken up today with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

George Bell is famed for being one of the first to speak out against the dangers Hitler posed in the 1930s and for saving many lives during these years by guaranteeing refugees from Germany. He was one of the few to condemn our government’s obliteration bombing of German cities during the Second World War.

A surprised world learnt on 22nd October 2015 that this much-admired wartime Bishop of Chichester had in 2015 apparently been found guilty, by Church authorities, of child sexual abuse. As a result, his reputation has been irreparably damaged, and schools and institutions dedicated to his memory have been renamed.

The Church of England’s statement appears to accept the allegation of abuse as true. It contained a highly damaging statement that the Sussex police would have arrested the Bishop had he still been alive. But this would have been no more than standard police practice, a fact not mentioned in the statement. The police have confirmed that after investigation arrests lead to charges in less than 30% of cases, and of course, not every charge leads to a guilty verdict. It is significant that neither the police nor the NSPCC have received any further complaints against the Bishop. Although challenged, the Church has not provided details of any corroboration to enable the complainant’s story to be judged.

A detailed report compiled by the George Bell Group, today reveals that the Church’s inquiries were astonishingly inadequate, especially since they followed an uncorroborated allegation, first made many decades after the alleged offence, and so far unaccompanied by any further accusations of the same nature. The report shows that the Church authorities:

  • failed to seek, find or interview the most qualified and knowledgeable witness to George Bell’s daily life at the time of the alleged abuse, though his name and details appear in the Church’s own clergy directory. This witness, interviewed by the George Bell group, utterly and in detail rebuts the allegations and regards them as incredible.
  • made no attempt to consult George Bell’s extensive papers and diaries, kept at Lambeth palace Library, to check these allegations, their dates and nature, against the recorded details of his life at the time.
  • failed to find or contact any of George Bell’s living relatives, to warn them in advance of their plan to blacken George Bell’s name publicly, most notably his niece, Barbara Whitley, who also strongly rebuts the claims.

The Group does not challenge the survivor’s belief in her account; the question is whether others should believe it.

The group questions whether the safeguarding group had the legal and forensic expertise to come to a judgement that would support the idea that, on the balance of probabilities, George Bell was guilty of child sexual abuse.

Victims of child abuse are as interested as the wider community, if not more so, in having a robust system to investigate their claims of abuse. It is clear to the George Bell Group that such a system still needs to be established by the Church of England.

The group’s concern is that the valuable reputation of a great man, a rare example of self-sacrificing human goodness, has been carelessly destroyed on the basis of slender evidence, sloppily investigated. The group also feels that the Church’s whole approach to such cases needs to be more transparent, and more in tune with the principles of justice. The guilty must indeed be punished. But the innocent must be protected, whether they are living or dead, and whether they are ordinary citizens or eminent in the eyes of the world.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 1:00am GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse has preliminary hearing

Updated again Friday midday

The Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse (IICSA) has begun hearings into church-related cases. For general background on why this government-initiated inquiry exists, see here and also here.

More about the Anglican aspect of this inquiry can be found here: Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church and this file contains the Definition of Scope.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing is explained here: Preliminary hearings for the Anglican Church and Rochdale and here: Preliminary Hearing Note.

Media reports focus on the claim by Richard Scorer that one alleged victim of Peter Ball wrote to the then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1992 and was ignored. Lord Carey has said he had no recollection of receiving any such letter.

Telegraph Lord Carey might have delayed investigation into church sex abuse for 20 years, inquiry hears

Guardian Archbishop did not pass abuse claims to police, Goddard inquiry told

BBC Goddard Inquiry: Focus on CofE handling of abuse claims

Daily Mail Carey ‘held up inquiry into priest for 20 years’: Former Archbishop of Canterbury ‘failed to pass allegations of abuse to police after receiving a complaint in 1992’

Mirror Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury allegedly helped delay sex abuse probe into bishop for 20 years

Independent Peter Ball: Details of paedophile priest’s abuse delayed ‘because former Archbishop George Carey failed to pass on information’

Updates

Gavin Drake Church Times Justice Goddard opens IICSA investigation into the Anglican Church

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Sex abuse public inquiry begins investigation into Church of England

David Henke and Tim Wood Exaro CoE finds one million pages of documents about child sex abuse

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 10:59am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Church of England publishes part of Elliott report into sexual abuse case

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Church of England has today published portions of the report that was commissioned in September 2015 into a particular case of alleged sexual abuse by a member of the clergy.

The materials published by the church do not disclose the names of any of the persons involved. However, the Guardian newspaper carries a report by Harriet Sherwood which names the perpetrator and states that the Guardian has seen the full report. The Guardian has also interviewed the survivor in this case.

The Church Times has also seen the full report, see below.

…Elliott examined the case of “Joe” – described in the report as “B”, and whose identity is known to the Guardian – who as a 15-year-old was subjected to a “sadistic” assault in 1976 by Garth Moore, a leading figure in the church, the chancellor of three dioceses and vicar of St Mary’s Abchurch in the City of London. Moore, who died in 1990, is described in the report as “A”…

  • And a later write-through of the story for the front page of the Wednesday morning paper edition names the bishops concerned:

…The Guardian understands that among those told of the abuse were three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop. None of them are named in the report by Ian Elliott, a safeguarding expert, but the survivor identified them as Tim Thornton, now bishop of Truro; Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal church, now retired; John Eastaugh, former bishop of Hereford, now dead; and Stephen Platten, former bishop of Wakefield and now honorary assistant bishop of London…

…In a statement, Thornton said: “I remember having several conversations with [Joe], mainly about his faith. But I am sorry to say that I simply do not recall the conversation that he has referred to. Had I been party to a conversation of that nature, I would either have referred him to somebody who would have been well placed to help him, or would have told somebody myself about such a serious disclosure.”
A statement from the diocese of London said Platten had apologised to Joe for his “lack of detailed recollection of their conversations in the 1980s” and “regretted he was unable to help further”.
Holloway said he did not recall any disclosure: “I have no memory of it, but I’ve no reason to challenge it. I had many pastoral conversations with many people…”

…Last month, Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, who leads the C of E’s safeguarding work, privately apologised to Joe for the church’s response to his disclosures. He said he had no doubt that Joe had been abused by Moore, and there were likely to be other survivors who have not yet come forward. He ended his handwritten letter, seen by the Guardian, with: “I am … deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused you.”

But there has been no apology from Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Joe reports writing 18 letters after the church began examining his case. He had one reply, from a correspondence secretary, assuring him that “the archbishop would hold him in his prayers”…

Links to the officially published material:

Report by Tim Wyatt in the Church Times Abuse case turns spotlight on to flawed C of E safeguarding practices

…The report will not be published in full, although the conclusions and recommendations will be published by the C of E. Bishop Mullally said that this was because of pastoral concerns, although Joe has told the Church Times that wants the detail of the review to be made public…

…Joe said he was optimistic that the report would lead to real reform, but still had reservations. He had asked for a female bishop to lead the implementation of the recommendations because he had wanted a new broom to sweep the Church clean.

“I wanted someone to look at this with fresh eyes,” he said. “It needed to be somebody who wasn’t part of the layers of complicity and loyalty, who didn’t carry all that baggage.”

Although he has not yet met Bishop Mullally, he said he had heard positive things about her. “I have the sense that she could kick the Church out of its complacency…”

Earlier material from the Church Times

Earlier material from the Guardian

Other media reports:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 at 2:24pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury appoints new Chief of Staff and Strategy

From the Archbishop’s website:

Archbishop of Canterbury appoints new Chief of Staff and Strategy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

Canon David Porter will take up the new role at Lambeth Palace in early May.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of Canon David Porter as Chief of Staff and Strategy at Lambeth Palace. He takes over from Kay Brock, who retires this month after four years at Lambeth Palace.

David is currently in the Lambeth Palace leadership group working as the Archbishops’ Director for Reconciliation. He will start in his new role in early May.

David, originally from Belfast, comes with experience in several Christian organisations at senior staff, CEO and board level. He has long experience in public affairs and was a member of the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and Community Relations Council. Prior to joining the Lambeth Palace team in 2013 he was the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral.

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin Welby said:

“This is an exciting appointment that draws together David’s recent experience leading one of my priorities and his extensive background in developing strategic and effective organisations to serve Christ and the church.

“David will lead on strategy development and implementation, as well as public affairs, working closely with senior colleagues. Along with the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, he will be responsible for enabling the entire team at Lambeth Palace to work effectively together, with colleagues at Church House, Bishopthorpe, the Anglican Communion Office and across the wider church.”

Speaking about his new role, David Porter said:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Archbishop Justin and colleagues at Lambeth over the last three years in what has been an immensely fulfilling role. It is an unexpected privilege to be given this new responsibility within the team at Lambeth Palace. The next few years will be exciting and challenging for the church, and all those who work at Lambeth are deeply committed to supporting the Archbishop in his ministry. I look forward to enabling them to flourish in this task.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 March 2016 at 11:47am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Michael Ipgrave to be next Bishop of Lichfield

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Lichfield: Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 March 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave for election as Bishop of Lichfield.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave, OBE, MA, PhD, Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark, for election as Bishop of Lichfield in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Michael Gledhill, MA, on his resignation on 30 September 2015.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave (57) grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire, in the English Midlands. He studied mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, and trained for the ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford after a year spent working as a labourer in a factory in Birmingham.

He was ordained Deacon in 1982 and Priest in 1983 in the Dicoese of Peterborough. After more than 20 years ministry in Leicestershire and Japan, he became Archdeacon of Southwark in 2004. He was also Canon Missioner at Southwark Cathedral from 2010 to 2012 and was Chair of the Southwark and London Diocesan Housing Association, and Anglican Borough Dean of Southwark. Prior to this he had been Inter Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary of the Churches’ Commission on Inter Faith Relations.

He was awarded the OBE in the new year’s honours list in 2011 for services to inter-faith relations in London. Since 2012 he has been Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark and is also diocesan Warden of Readers. He chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, and is Co-Chair of the Anglican-Lutheran Society and of the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group.

Bishop Michael has written extensively on inter-faith issues and on questions of religion and human rights. He has edited 6 volumes on Christian-Muslim relations, is the author of Trinity and Inter Faith Dialogue (Peter Lang, 2003), and has contributed about 30 journal articles and book chapters.

Bishop Michael is married to Dr Julia Ipgrave, who works at Roehampton University as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Humanities. They have 3 grown up sons, 1 with a German and 1 with a Russian wife, and are looking forward to the imminent birth of their first grandchild in Germany. Michael and Julia are enthusiastic about things Japanese; they enjoy walking, and are looking forward to exploring Staffordshire and Shropshire on foot.

The Lichfield Diocesan website has this: 99th Bishop of Lichfield named.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 2 March 2016 at 10:10am GMT | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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Friday, 29 January 2016

General Synod agenda - press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Reform, sex talks, and Kirk on Synod’s agenda

John Bingham The Telegraph Dress-down Sundays: Church considers making clerical dress optional
[with reference to GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments]

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod to focus on need for evangelism
Anglican talks on sexuality sometimes “painful”

BBC News Churches of England and Scotland publish report on proposed pact

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican clergy could drop traditional dress in favour of casual clothing

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More and more Church of England members support same-sex marriage

Updated again Sunday morning

Harriet Sherwood has published in the Guardian a report headlined Church of England members back same-sex marriage.

Attitudes to same-sex marriage within the pews of the Church of England are sharply at odds with the stance of its leadership, as for the first time more Anglicans are in favour of gay and lesbian couples marrying than oppose it, according to a poll.

Support for same-sex marriage among church members has significantly increased over the past three years despite the leadership’s insistence that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and its refusal to conduct church weddings for gay couples or allow gay priests to marry…

…A poll conducted in the aftermath of the Canterbury meeting found 45% of people who define themselves as Church of England approve of same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who believe it is wrong. A similar survey three years ago found almost the reverse: 38% of Anglicans in favour and 47% opposed.

The lowest levels of support for same-sex marriage – 24% – were found among Anglican men over the age of 55, a group that dominates the church leadership. Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist within the C of E, who commissioned the poll from YouGov, said this finding was “deeply worrying”. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the profile of those in the senior positions of power and influence within the church,” she said.

The poll’s findings, released to the Guardian, are likely to amplify calls within the church for a change in its stance. Gay and lesbian activists say the church’s insistence on a traditional interpretation of scriptures alienates and excludes LGBT Christians, and further marginalises the church in wider society.

The survey found a clear generational difference among Church of England members, with almost three-quarters (72%) of under-35s in favour. There was a majority supporting same-sex marriage in all age groups under 55, but the figure dropped to fewer than one in three older Anglicans. More women than men believe same-sex marriage is right.

Support was largely consistent across different regions of England, contradicting assumptions that people living in London and other major cities are more liberal than others. There was also minimal variation across social class.

Church members in England are still lagging behind the general public, among whom a clear majority – 56% – support same-sex marriage, while 27% say they oppose it…

For more detail about this survey see press release here.

In particular, scroll down to pages 4 and 5 of the PDF for some graphics showing very clearly the shift in opinion over the past three years.

For more numbers:

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all Anglicans living in England go here.

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all respondents living within Great Britain go here.

The 2013 detailed results are on pages 13 and 14 of this rather large file.

Updates

There is extensive criticism of this poll at Psephizo The YouGov poll on same-sex marriage

But then again there is discussion of who is a member of the Church of England by Archdruid Eileen Are You Really Church of England?

Further media coverage:

BBC More Anglicans now back gay marriage than oppose it, poll suggests

Telegraph Anglicans ‘more likely to back gay marriage than oppose it’

Christian Today Support for same-sex marriage grows among CofE laity

Independent More Anglicans support gay marriage than oppose it, poll claims

Huffington Post Gay Marriage Support From Christians In The Church Of England Is Now Outstripping Opposition, New Poll Reveals

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The Columba Declaration and the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report today.

Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report
January 29, 2016

There was some publicity around Christmastime regarding the publication of the joint Columba Declaration by the Church of Scotland and Church of England. The provincial Faith and Order Board met recently and agreed that a short background note should be issued.

After the publication in 2010 of Our Fellowship in the Gospel by the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, a product of five year’s work, an invitation to join the Joint Study Group was issued to the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church was then involved in those new talks up until 2013. At that point, the other two churches expressed a desire to enter into a deeper ecumenical arrangement. The Faith and Order Board considered the matter carefully but did not believe it was appropriate to enter a tripartite “ecumenical” agreement where one of the parties was the Church of England because the Scottish Episcopal Church is already in full communion with the Church of England. The Board suggested instead that the three-way talks might continue, aimed not at forming an ecumenical agreement but rather at enriching common life and mission across the three churches. Therefore, it suggested alternative ways of proceeding on a tripartite basis.

However, the other two churches were keen to move towards some form of ecumenical agreement. It was at this point that the Scottish Episcopal Church ceased to be a full participant in the talks, albeit we were invited to appoint an observer, and duly did so. The then Convener of Inter-Church Relations Committee took on that role with his last involvement being at the final bilateral meeting in late 2014 where a draft of the report was under discussion.

A joint statement by the Church of Scotland and Church of England setting out the Columba Declaration (which forms only the final part of the report) was unexpectedly issued just before Christmas 2015, in response to a press query, and we became aware of this on Christmas Eve. The final form of the full report, however, was embargoed until the 29th January 2016.

Since the issue of that statement, we have been in direct contact with both the Church of Scotland and Church of England and have obtained a copy of the final report Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission. We have been able to ask a number of initial questions which have been helpfully answered jointly by the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

In the report it is stated that a response from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be welcomed. The Faith and Order Board at its meeting on 21st January agreed to remit the Scottish Episcopal Church’s detailed examination of the report to the Inter-Church Relations Committee and to ask that Committee to formulate a response for consideration by the Faith and Order Board in September 2016 (which will be the first meeting of the Board after this year’s Church of England Synod and the Church of Scotland General Assembly). This will include consideration of the concerns which the publication of the Columba Declaration, without the benefit of the full report, had prompted before Christmas. The Board believes that publication of Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission now provides an opportunity to build on the warm relations which the Scottish Episcopal Church already enjoys with the Church of Scotland and very much looks forward to continuing discussions. The Board similarly looks forward to strengthening our relationship and mutual regard with the Church of England.

The report of the Church of Scotland and Church of England Joint Study Group can be read here.

A press release issued today by the Church of Scotland can be read here.

Our earlier coverage of the Columba Declaration is here, here and here.

The Church of England released the Report on the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016) today; the Columba Declaration comprises Chapter IV of the report.

The report will be debated at the Church of England’s General Synod on Tuesday 16 February; here is the relevant section of the agenda.

REPORT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND–CHURCH OF SCOTLAND JOINT STUDY GROUP (GS 2016)

10 Presentation under SO 107 by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Revd Dr Angus Morrison.

The Bishop of Chester (Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group) to move:

11 ‘That this Synod,
(a) welcome the report of the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (annexed to GS 2016) as a significant development in the relationship between the two churches;
(b) approve the Columba Declaration, consisting of mutual Acknowledgements and Commitments, as set out in paragraph 38 of the report; and
(c) request the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation of the Commitments contained in the Columba Declaration and set up the Contact Group proposed by it.’

The Report of the Synod’s Business Committee provides this comment.

Presentation from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland followed by a Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

24. The Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group was set up following the Synod debate on a previous report, Our Fellowship in the Gospel (GS 1792), in July 2010. The document it has produced has four parts, the first setting out important background, the second agreement in faith between the two churches, the third areas where they can grow in partnership for mission and the fourth the ‘Columba Declaration’ of shared Acknowledgements and Commitments. The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, will give a presentation outlining the significance of the proposed agreement between the churches before the Bishop of Chester, as Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group, introduces the debate.

The Church of Scotland has also issued a press release today: Landmark report on historic Ecumenical partnership plans published.

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Agenda for February 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

The remainder of the papers have also been published online, and I have updated my list here.

Agenda for February 2016 General Synod
29 January 2016

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.30 pm on Monday 15 February until 5.00 pm on Wednesday 17 February. This will be the first full-length meeting of the newly-elected General Synod since its inauguration in November 2015.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here. The majority of the papers have been released today. A major theme of this group of sessions will be taking forward the next stages of the Archbishops’ Renewal and Reform initiative. On Wednesday 17 February the various Task Group leads will be giving an overview to Synod on their plans for the coming year. Specific items related to Renewal and Reform feature on the February agenda.

One key aspect of Renewal and Reform is the introduction of legislative changes to make it easier for parishes and dioceses to organise themselves to facilitate mission and growth. This is known as the Simplification work stream. On Monday 15 February legislation will come before Synod to simplify the Church’s rulebook to reduce regulatory burdens in the form of the Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure (GS2014). On Tuesday 16 February, Synod will be asked to endorse plans to introduce an ‘Enabling Measure’ to make it easier to update Church legislation in the future as required on an on-going basis (GS 2018).

On Wednesday 17 February there will be a debate on a motion on the Resourcing Ministerial Education work stream, another element of Renewal and reform. The motion and the accompanying paper sets out plans for new funding arrangements to boost the number of candidates for ministry and a strategy for the continuing enhancement of their quality and deployability (GS 2020). Immediately after this item, there will be a Take Note debate on a report from the Task Group on Resourcing the Future which sets out plans to reorganise the way that the Church distributes money centrally to focus it on driving growth and helping mission in the poorest communities (GS 2021). Linked to these initiatives, there will be a report from the Evangelism Task Group with examples of best practice with regards to Church growth and evangelism (GS 2015).

On Monday 15 February the Archbishop of Canterbury will be giving a Presidential Address which will include a Statement on the outcome of the recent Primates meeting in Canterbury. There will also be an update by the Archbishop’s Director for Reconciliation on the progress in the dioceses of the Shared Conversations on Spirituality, Scripture and Mission. Synod members will have an opportunity to ask questions on the presentation.

On Tuesday 16 February, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will give a presentation on the Report of the Church of England - Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016). This will be followed by a debate on the Report introduced by the Bishop of Chester.

Synod will be debating three Diocesan Synod Motions, two of which are closely related. The first two DSMs from Worcester Diocesan Synod relate to Parochial fees and related costs for weddings and funerals (GS 2017A and 2017B). This will be taken together on Tuesday 16 February. On Wednesday 17 February there will be a Diocesan Synod Motion arising from Leeds Diocesan Synod on the ‘Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants’ (GS 2019A and GS2019B). A further Diocesan Synod Motion from Leeds Diocesan Synod on ‘Blood and Organ Donation’ (GS 2022A and GS2022B) is listed as contingency business.

ENDS

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

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Friday, 22 January 2016

February General Synod - online papers

The second circulation papers have now been added below.

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 15-17 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

More papers are scheduled for release on 29 January. There appear to be rather more of these than usual. I have included below all those mentioned in the agenda, and I will add links to them in due course.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 1953D - Amending Canon No.34 [Monday]

GS 2011 - Agenda

GS 2012 - Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission [Monday]

GS 2013 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2014 - Draft Mission and Pastoral (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 2014x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2015 - Report from the Evangelism Task Group [Tuesday]

GS 2016 - Report of the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group [Tuesday]

GS 2017A and graph and GS 2017B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees [Tuesday]

GS 2018 - Proposed Enabling Measure [Tuesday]

GS 2019A and GS 2019B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants [Wednesday]

GS 2020 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing Ministerial Education [Wednesday]

GS 2021 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing the Future [Wednesday]

GS 2022A and GS 2022B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ [contingency business]

Notice papers

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 3

Other papers

GS Misc 1129 - Instructions regarding counted votes conducted by electronic means
GS Misc 1130 - The Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2015
GS Misc 1131 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1132 - Report on the Churches Together in England 2015 Forum
GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments
GS Misc 1134 - Update on Archbishop’s Council activities
GS Misc 1135 - Council for Christian Unity Annual Report
GS Misc 1136 - Central Stipends Authority Annual Report
Group work membership
Group work questions [Tuesday morning]

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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Church of England safeguarding audits

Press release today from the Church of England

Publication of pilot audits on safeguarding arrangements
14 January 2016

The outcomes of four pilot independent audits into safeguarding arrangements in the Church of England have been published today.

The dioceses of Blackburn, Durham, Portsmouth and Salisbury all volunteered to be part of the House of Bishops commissioned project to take a look at current safeguarding practice. The audits will now be rolled out across all other Church of England dioceses during 2016/17.

The independent audits were carried out by The Social Care Institute for Excellence, SCIE, a charity and leading improvement support agency specialising in safeguarding. SCIE has pioneered a particular collaborative approach to conducting case reviews and audits in child and adult safeguarding called Learning Together focusing on the reasons why things go well, the cause of any problems and solutions.

The audit process in each diocese involved examination of safeguarding leadership arrangements, local policies and practice guidance, the quality of case work, recruitment and training. The auditors also looked at the progress being made in reaching nationally agreed standards informed by central House of Bishops approved policies.

The National Safeguarding Team has welcomed the pilot overview report and considerations for its future work.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding said: “These audits are part of our commitment to making the Church a safer place for all, ensuring that all dioceses have the best possible practice in place. I commend the four dioceses, including my own, which came forward to be pilots as it is not easy to be the first under the spotlight. We all have lessons to learn. The audits show how each diocese can improve while also commending good practice that is already in place.

“Our policies and practice must start from the place of seeking the very best for all. This includes them being survivor-informed. SCIE’s experience in safeguarding will help us to do that. We have published these pilot audits as we are committed to being open about where we have got it wrong and where we need to improve. The pilot process will also inform further improvements in the auditing process itself for the next round. The audits, both individually, and as a whole, will form an important part of our work as the National Inquiry gets underway.

We must always remember that safeguarding exists to enable the Church to ensure that the vast range of work with children, young people, the elderly, disabled and all people are the very best that they can be for everyone who wants to be involved.”

Tony Hunter, SCIE chief executive said: “SCIE commends the Church of England for taking such a proactive approach to auditing their safeguarding policies and practice. It’s so important that influential organisations - such as the Church - recognise their role in safeguarding children and adults. SCIE auditors were impressed by the openness of staff in the four pilot areas, and their willingness to share and learn. We look forward to continuing to work with the Church of England as we support rollout of their audit process across all dioceses.”

Anyone who is affected by a safeguarding issue, particularly in light of today’s reports, should feel free to come forward in confidence and they will be listened to. Details of how to report concerns and find support can be found here.

Links and contact details are below the fold.

Notes

More information on SCIE

Report on Blackburn Diocese audit

Report on Durham Diocese audit

Report on Portsmouth Diocese audit

Report on Salisbury Diocese audit

Pilot overview report

Contacts

Church of England national office - 020 7898 1326 / out of hours 07774 800212

Blackburn Diocese - Ronnie Semley email 01254 503416

Durham Diocese - Keith Blundy email 07900 583131

Portsmouth Diocese - Neil Pugmire email 02392 899673

Salisbury Diocese - Gerry Lynch email 01722 438652 / mobileb 07799 900610.

SCIE - Iris Steen email

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Church of England publishes 2014 attendance statistics

Updated Tuesday evening

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2014 today with an accompanying press release, copied below. The statistics mainly cover numbers attending, but there are also figures on, for example, numbers joining and leaving (with reasons), electoral numbers, baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

The statistics can be downloaded from here as a 58 page pdf file.

Church Publishes 2014 Attendance Statistics
12 January 2016

New Church of England statistics for 2014 published today show that just under one million people attend services each week. The survey, carried out over four weeks in October 2014, found 980,000 people attending church each week, with 830,000 adults and 150,000 children.

The statistics also show that 2.4 million attended a Church of England Church at Christmas in 2014 and 1.3 million people attended a service at Easter. Additionally, 2.2 million people attended special Advent services for the congregation and local community whilst 2.6 million attended special Advent services for civic organisations and schools.

The statistics also highlight the other services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. In 2014 the Church carried out just under 1,000 weddings, 2,000 baptisms, and almost 3,000 funerals every week of the year. Some 12% of births during 2014 were marked by a Church of England infant baptism or thanksgiving service whilst 31% of deaths were marked by a Church of England funeral.

As a whole the figures represent a continuing trend which has shown a 12% decrease in attendance over the past decade with an average decline of just over 1% a year.

Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, said:

“The 2014 figures are not in any way a surprise. Whilst the recent trend of the past decade continues, it has been anticipated and is being acted on radically.

“As part of a prayerful and considered response to these trends the Church is embarking upon the biggest renewal and reform process in over 150 years focusing our resources on prayer, evangelism, discipleship, vocations, leadership & training.

“We do not expect that trend to change imminently or immediately over the next few years due to demographics. We lose approximately 1% of our churchgoers to death each year. Given the age profile of the CofE, the next few years will continue to have downward pressure as people die or become housebound and unable to attend church.

“As a Church we are unashamedly committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ in our worship of God, discipleship and service to the poor and the marginalised. Our confidence, resilience and service is rooted in Jesus.

“The story is not one of inevitable decline. During 2013-14 some dioceses continued to increase their attendance. In the past 12 months alone there are examples of growth and new churches across the country. In my own diocese the church of St. Thomas Norwich has grown from 50 to 450 people in the past two years. In Bournemouth, St Swithin’s - a church which started in 2014 - now sees 500 people attending every week whilst in Birmingham St Luke’s Gas Street in is already attracting hundreds of young people since its beginning in 2015. There are many others like these and each is a sign of hope.

“Attendance statistics do not tell the whole story. There are many things that churches do that are not included in these data from running homelessness services and hosting foodbanks, to educating a million children a day in our schools to providing welcome and accompaniment to the least, the last and the lost in our society.”

Update

Mark Hart looks at the figures for the diocese of London: Capital Growth or Northern Powerhouse?.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England attendance plunges to record low

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England weekly attendance falls below 1m for first time

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England weekly attendance falls below one million for first time

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Media coverage of the open letter to the archbishops

Updated Monday morning

There is a comprehensive set of links to media coverage of the letter over here.

Earlier items in previous article [scroll down]

BBC Sunday radio programme available here.
‘Last roll of the dice’ for the Anglican communion – item on Good Disagreement book from 18:25, item on Letter from 29:16

Also a short video report by Caroline Wyatt is here: Church ‘should repent’ over treatment of gay Anglicans

And a BBC World Service extended news report [starts about 5 minutes in] including comments from Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines, retired Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, and Jayne Ozanne

Guardian Harriet Sherwood Senior Anglicans call for repentance over sexual discrimination

Telegraph Patrick Foster Church must repent for ‘treating gays like second-class citizens’

Michael Sadgrove Gay Anglicans and the Primates’ Meeting: the open letter

Brother Ivo Why I signed the Letter to the Archbishops

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Open letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York

An open letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, signed by 105 Church of England members including many senior figures.

More information, and the full list of signatories, is at this website including a press release which is also copied below the fold.

The website also provides an opportunity for anybody who wishes to do so to add their signature to the letter.

The full text of the letter is as follows.

The Rt Hon and Most Revd Justin Welby
The Rt Hon and Most Revd Dr John Sentamu

January 7th 2016

Your Graces

We the undersigned ask you, our Archbishops, to take an unequivocal message to your meeting of fellow Primates next week that the time has now come for:

  • Acknowledgement that we, the Church, have failed in our duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world. We have not loved them as we should, and have treated them as a problem to be solved rather than as brothers and sisters in Christ to be embraced and celebrated. We have made them feel second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, often abandoned and alone.
  • Repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and for the pain and rejection that this has caused. We, the Church, need to apologise for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs about LGBTI people, such as the slanderous view that homosexuals have a predisposition to prey on the young.

We understand that the Primates come from a variety of contexts with differing ways of interpreting the Scriptures, but we urge you to be prophetic in your action and Christ-like in your love towards our LGBTI sisters and brothers who have been ignored and even vilified for too long.

Please be assured of our prayers for you at this time, and that the world will know by our words and actions that everyone who is baptised into the faith is of equal value in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely

PRESS RELEASE – January 10th 2016
SENIOR CHURCH FIGURES URGE CHURCH REPENTANCE FOR ‘SECOND CLASS CITIZENSTREATMENT ON SEXUALITY

Over 100 Senior Anglicans, including the Dean of St Paul’s, have signed an open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York calling on the Church of England to repent of its ‘second class citizen’ treatment of Christians over issues of sexuality.

The letter, signed by a range of senior church figures including Cathedral Deans, retired bishops and well-known lay figures (including leading parliamentary figures and university academics), has been sent to the Archbishops ahead of a pivotal meeting of worldwide Anglican Leaders which begins in Canterbury on Monday.

In the letter, the 105 signatories call on the Church to acknowledge its failure to care for LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world, and to repent of its acceptance and promotion of discrimination - especially its failure to challenge harmful beliefs about sexuality. It goes on to ask the Primates to act in Christ-like love ‘towards those who have been ignored and vilified for too long’.

The signatories include eight retired bishops and a serving bishop, the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. Another prominent signatory is the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, who says that, in all the debate, the personal cost has often been forgotten:

‘I believe that it’s imperative for us to remember that whilst we seek to engage honestly, lovingly and respectfully with our differences of context and scriptural interpretation, our discussions are actually about the lives of sisters and brothers who have often been rejected and victimised on the grounds of their sexuality. The Church should be the first place that they feel they can come to, to find love and acceptance rather than judgement.’

The signatories include both clergy and lay people. Prominent gay Christian, Vicky Beeching, who came out in 2014 and faced significant discrimination from Christians across the world, urges the Church to think of its younger members:

‘Social and religious attitudes are shifting among young people. Many cannot morally align themselves with a Church that perpetuates LGBT discrimination. If we want to ensure the future life of our Church this issue needs urgent attention and great pastoral sensitivity. To see the Church repent of damaging attitudes would help many young people feel a reconnection with it.’

The letter, which goes on to assure the Archbishops of prayers for the Canterbury meeting, has been coordinated by Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, who is keen to stress that support has come from a broad range of individuals across the church.

‘The signatories come from across the full breadth of the Anglican traditions, and from right across the country. From the Dean of Truro to the Dean of Carlisle, and from the MP for Exeter to the Master of Trinity Hall at Cambridge University and the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford University. It is so encouraging to see so many senior Anglicans now standing alongside their LGBTI brothers and sisters, recognising their woeful treatment by the Church to date.’

She added that the church had no excuse for its failure to care:

‘In 1998 the worldwide Anglican Church committed itself to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals. Despite this commitment the plight of many LGBTI Christians around the world has got worse. The consequence is that we are now increasingly perceived as irredeemably “anti-gay” by an increasing number of people who simply don’t understand why the church continues to discriminate, nor why it is allowed to do so. Until we repent of our treatment of our LGBTI brothers and sisters, attempts by those within the worldwide Church to conduct meaningful “conversations” will risk appearing hollow and insincere’.

ENDS

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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Columba Declaration

We reported on the proposed agreement between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England set out in the Columba Declaration here and on the response of the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church here.

This week’s Church Times carries an article by Tim Wyatt on the agreement and the controversy it has provoked: Scottish Episcopalians query Columba Declaration. To this is attached an article by the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, who was the Church of England co-chair of the study group that produced the declaration. In it he sets out the background to the study group’s report and the declaration.

Dr Forster’s article is also available on the Church of England’s blog: Growth in communion, partnership in mission.

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Thursday, 7 January 2016

General Synod elections - chairs of house and others

Members of the new General Synod of the Church of England have been electing chairs of houses and members of various committees. There is a list of the results so far here, including these.

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

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York
The Ven Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale (Manchester)

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison (Durham)

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield)

There are more results to come.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 7 January 2016 at 10:41am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Peter Ball: letters of support released

The Crown Prosecution Service has released a number of letters written years ago in support of Bishop Peter Ball. This is because of a Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph newspaper.

The released documents are here.

The Telegraph news report is here: Establishment figures who helped disgraced bishop avoid prosecution for sex abuse revealed

Another news report by the BBC is here: Letters of support for sex offender ex-bishop Peter Ball released

And the Guardian has this: Archbishop and MPs wrote in support of bishop later convicted of sexual offences

Daily Mail Abuse bishop escaped prosecution after being backed by two Archbishops, a judge and Tory MPs including David Cameron’s godfather

There is a press release from the Church of England which is available here: Statement on Peter Ball letters released under FOI

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 December 2015 at 7:58pm GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church comments on Columba Declaration

In response to the reported agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has written two articles, which need to be read together:

The Columba Declaration – ecumenical relationships in Scotland

…But the aspect of the Columba Declaration which will cause most concern to the Scottish Episcopal Church is the potential involvement of the Church of England in the ecclesiastical life of Scotland. The Church of England is not a Scottish Church nor does it have any jurisdiction in Scotland. The Anglican way is to recognise the territorial integrity of each province – they are autonomous but inter-dependent, The important question is whether, within that understanding of the relationship between provinces of the Anglican Communion, it is proper for the Church of England to enter into this agreement about ministry and ecclesiastical order in Scotland.. That is a matter which will have to be explored in future dialogue between the Scottish Episcopal Church and both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

Columba Declaration – time for a rethink

…The question here is not whether the development of ecumenical relationships is desirable – for of course it is. The question is about whether that development can take place respectfully and in good order. The Scottish Episcopal Church now seems to be faced with the possibility that Church of England clergy will minister in Scotland under the authorisation of the Church of Scotland and without reference to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Yet the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church are partner members of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion in Scotland is expressed in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England seem to have decided that their commonality as National Churches justifies them in setting aside other ecumenical relationships and etiquette. What would really help this situation – mitigating the damage already done to long-established relationships and avoiding further damage – would be for the two churches to decide to delay publication of the full document to allow time for consultation.

I appeal to them to do so…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 December 2015 at 11:11am GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Harriet Sherwood interviews Jeremy Davies

Harriet Sherwood has another major article today. In The Guardian Saturday interview she writes about Married gay priest Jeremy Davies: ‘The bishops say we’re not modelling teachings of the church. Yes we are’.

This is a long article, but do read all of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 December 2015 at 11:35am GMT | Comments (59) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 December 2015

C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

This is the lead story on the front page of tomorrow’s The Guardian.

Harriet Sherwood C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

The Church of England is to fast-track black and ethnic minority clergy into senior positions amid accusations of institutional racism.

A “talent pool” of specifically black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) potential leaders will be identified in 2016 for training and mentoring with the aim of increasing representation among bishops, deans and archdeacons…

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 December 2015 at 10:50pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an "historic agreement"

Updated Thursday evening to add statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church

Press release from the Church of England and the Church of Scotland this morning

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an historic agreement
24 December 2015

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England have reached an historic agreement that recognises their longstanding ecumenical partnership and lays the groundwork for future joint projects.

The agreement called The Columba Declaration is set out in a 15-page report by the Joint Study Group “Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission”.

Rev Dr John McPake, co-chair of the study group and one of the authors of the report, said

“The Columba Declaration recognises the strong partnership that already exists and will help encourage and support new initiatives.

“We believe that approval of the Columba Declaration by our two churches will represent a significant step in the long history of their relationship, one that affirms the place we have come to and opens up new possibilities for the future.”

Arranged into four chapters, the report sets out the history of partnership between the two churches and the shared beliefs that allow for close cooperation between the churches, before exploring how the partnership could grow.

This year the churches established the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union as a response to concerns that low-income families needed access to low -cost banking and loans. And that’s just one of the areas where the two churches already are collaborating.

The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council and the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs talk regularly about everything from poverty to refugees. As well as recognising one another’s ministers, the churches exchange views on ministry and come together for example on initiatives such as Fresh Expressions. The Church of Scotland also sends a representative to the General Synod while the Church of England sends a representative to the General Assembly.

In a joint statement prefacing the report, joint study group co-chairs Rev Dr John McPake and Rt Rev Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester write:

“Our hope is that joint affirmation by our two churches of the Columba Declaration would:

Affirm and strengthen our relationship at a time when it is likely to be particularly critical in the life of the United Kingdom;

Provide an effective framework for coordinating present partnership activities and for fostering new initiatives;

Enable us to speak and act together more effectively in the face of the missionary challenges of our generation.”

The report emphasises that joint ecumenical work should also include other churches and especially the Episcopal Church of Scotland [sic] and the United Reformed Church. At the same time it acknowledges the “distinctive partnership in the gospel to which our two Churches are called within the United Kingdom, rooted in our shared history and in our parallel and overlapping roles as the churches of our respective nations.”

The report will now go to the Church of England’s Synod in February and by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May for approval. A debate is scheduled at the Synod on Feb 16, 2016.

Here’s the full text from the report of the Columba Declaration

THE COLUMBA DECLARATION

38. In the light of our common mission and context (chapter 1), our agreement in faith (chapter 2) and our significant opportunities for growing in partnership in mission (chapter 3), we recommend that our churches make the following Declaration.

We, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, make the following acknowledgements and commitments, which are interrelated.

a) Acknowledgements

(i) We acknowledge one another’s churches as churches belonging to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and truly participating in the apostolic ministry and mission of the whole people of God.

(ii) We acknowledge that in both our churches the word of God is truly preached, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion are rightly administered.

(iii) We acknowledge that both our churches share in the common confession of the apostolic faith.

(iv) We acknowledge that one another’s ordained ministries of word and sacraments are given by God as instruments of grace and we look forward to a time when growth in communion can be expressed in fuller unity that makes possible the interchangeability of ministers.

(v) We acknowledge that personal, collegial and communal oversight (episkope) is embodied and exercised in our churches in a variety of forms, as a visible sign expressing and serving the Church’s unity and continuity in apostolic life, mission and ministry.

b) Commitments

We commit ourselves to grow together in communion and to strengthen our partnership in mission. Through this commitment, we hope to enrich our continuing relationships with other churches in the United Kingdom and around the world. We will welcome opportunities to draw other churches into the activities and initiatives that we share.

As part of that commitment, we will continue to:

(i) pray for and with one another;
(ii) welcome one another’s members to each other’s worship as guests and receive one another’s members into the congregational life of each other’s churches where that is their desire;
(iii) explore opportunities for congregational partnership, formal as well as informal, in those cases where there are churches in close geographical proximity;
(iv) enable ordained ministers from one of our churches to exercise ministry in the other church, in accordance with the discipline of each church;
(vi) identify theological issues that arise from growth towards fuller communion and be prepared to allocate resources to addressing them;
(vii) work together on social, political and ethical issues that arise from our participation in public life and be prepared to allocate resources to joint initiatives for addressing them.

In order to assist our churches in living out the acknowledgements and commitments of the Columba Declaration, we will appoint Co-Chairs and members of a Church of Scotland - Church of England Contact Group, whose purpose will be to coordinate the different activities that make up our rich relationship and develop new initiatives where these may be needed. The Contact Group will meet at least annually and will report annually to the Council for Christian Unity in the Church of England and the Committee on Ecumenical Relations in the Church of Scotland.

[This text is copied from the Church of England website (which has no hyperlinks) with links taken from the Church of Scotland website. - editor]

———

Some press reports

John Bingham Telegraph Church of England and Church of Scotland forge pact

BBC News Churches of Scotland and England reach first formal pact

———

Update

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this statement today:

Response to Columba Declaration
December 24, 2015

A spokesperson for the Scottish Episcopal Church says “We have noted the announcement today about the Columba Declaration agreed between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

“We welcome the opportunity for the further ecumenical discussion referred to in today’s press statement and look forward to being able to consider the full text of the report when we receive this. We fully understand the desire of the Church of Scotland and the Church of England as national churches to discuss and explore matters of common concern. However certain aspects of the report which appear to go beyond the relationship of the two churches as national institutions cause us concern. The Scottish Episcopal Church, as a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, represents Anglicanism in Scotland, and we will therefore look forward to exploring the suggestions within the report more fully in due course.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 December 2015 at 11:16am GMT | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 December 2015

Martyn Percy interviewed on BBC radio programmes

Updated Thursday

Following the publication last week of his essay – Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans – the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, and a Vice President of Modern Church, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme…

For more details of this interview, and another one on BBC Radio Wiltshire, dealing mainly with the case of Canon Jeremy Davies, see Modern Church vice president responds to unchallenged homophobia on Radio 4 Sunday programme.

Thursday Update

Following the Radio 4 broadcast, there were numerous complaints to the BBC about what one of the participants had said, and the failure of the interviewer to challenge him on it. Those who complained have all received the following response from the BBC:

Many thanks for getting in touch with us about an item on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” programme on 20 December. Recognising your unhappiness, we have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.

To explain, the discussion in question was broadcast in response to an essay written by the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, on the debate within the Anglican Communion about the treatment of LGBT Christians.

“Sunday” is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed. As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.

We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.

We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast. As was explained in the programme, “Sunday” will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.

Thanks again for getting in touch and allowing us to clarify.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Another article on Anglican Mainstream from Chris Sugden, published on the same day as the broadcast, also deals with this matter: Background to the Uganda Bill on aggravated homosexuality

It is becoming clear that in the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering, further pressure will be brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states that funds for their education and health budgets will be removed if the laws are not changed. To this call is now being added calls from the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups.
At this Christmas season, where would Jesus be found – in the courts of the rich and powerful intimidating and bullying the poor for whom their families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Kabare in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.
There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic to which this article addresses itself…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 December 2015 at 10:18pm GMT | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 December 2015

February 2016 General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 22 January 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2016 GROUP OF SESSIONS

Timetable

Monday 15 February

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Opening Worship
Presentation of officers (Prolocutors of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity)

Report by the Business Committee

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No 34
Mission and Pastoral etc (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration

Initial presentation on the Shared Conversations followed by Q&A

*5.45 pm Questions

7.00 pm Evening worship

Tuesday 16 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Worship in small groups followed by Group Work on Evangelism

11.30 am Presentation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chair of the Evangelism Task Group, followed by a ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Evangelism Task Group

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Presentation from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees

*5.30 pm Motion on the proposed Enabling Measure

7.00 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 17 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion

10.45 am Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants

Update on Renewal and Reform – (Presentation by Task Group Leads followed by Q&A)

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing Ministerial Education: debate on a motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing the Future: ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Archbishops’ Council

5.00 pm Farewells

*5.15 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ Donation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 December 2015 at 5:41pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Resolution of Disputes

In June I reported here on a consultation on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure that is part of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishop and Priests. I also linked here to David Pocklington’s review of the consultation paper for Law & Religion UK.

This week the Church of England has published these two documents on the Operation of the procedure.

Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure: Response to the Consultation
Independent Reviewer: Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure (December 2015)

David Pocklington has written about both for Law & Religion UK here: CofE: Resolution of Disputes Procedure.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 December 2015 at 11:50am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Andrew Tremlett to be next Dean of Durham

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Durham: Andrew Tremlett

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 17 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett to be appointed Dean of Durham.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett, MA, MPhil, PGCCE, Canon of Westminster, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Durham, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, MA, on 31 December 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Canon Andrew Tremlett (aged 51) was Curate at Torquay, St Matthias, St Mark and Holy Trinity in the diocese of Exeter, from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 1994 he was Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers, and Assistant Chaplain in Rotterdam, in the diocese of Europe, and from 1994 to 1995 he was Chaplain. From 1995 to 1998 he was Team Vicar at Fareham Holy Trinity with St Columba in Portsmouth diocese. From 1998 to 2003 he was Chaplain to the Bishop of Portsmouth, and also a Parliamentary Research Assistant and Secretary to the Church of England’s Doctrine Commission. From 2003 to 2008 he was Vicar of Goring-by-Sea in Chichester diocese. From 2008 to 2010 he was Canon Residentiary and Keeper of the Fabric at Bristol Cathedral; from June 2009 to May 2010 he was Acting Dean of the Cathedral.

Since 2010 he has been Canon Residentiary and Rector of St Margaret’s Church at Westminster Abbey. He has been responsible for the Abbey’s relationships with Parliament, Whitehall and other faith communities, and in 2012 established the Westminster Abbey Institute which works with Public Service Institutions around Parliament Square to support ethics in public life. In June 2014 he became Archdeacon of Westminster and Sub-Dean of the Abbey. Since 2013 he has been Chairman of the Field Lane Foundation, a charitable housing association working particularly with adults with complex needs, and in 2015 became a Trustee of the Mission to Seafarers.

Andrew Tremlett is married to Ali, a teacher and trained painter and decorator. They have a daughter and 2 sons. Andrew Tremlett enjoys languages and has been studying Arabic at SOAS as well as on sabbatical in Jerusalem in 2014. He is a keen photographer and long-distant runner.

Durham diocesan website: Andrew Tremlett named as next Dean of Durham

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 10:18am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Reactions to Winchester banning of married clergyman

There have been a lot of people writing letters to the Bishop of Winchester to complain about his refusal to issue a Permission to Officiate to the retired priest, Jeremy Davies.

Three of the most thoughtful articles about this matter are these:

Rachel Mann An Open Christmas Letter to Bishop Tim Dakin. Do read it all the way through. Here’s the last bit:

I pray to God that your decision was not an easy one. (Although, if it was, I hope you have pause to ask ‘Why?’ in the weeks to come. Surely any decision that can have costly emotional and personal fallout for others should not be taken from the safety of ‘due process’ and ‘best legal advice’.) I also think that these might be quite difficult weeks ahead for you. Even with the most robust sense of self, negative press is wearing.

I know it’s tempting in such circumstances to attempt to rework this emotional distress into a kind of positive; that is, into an opportunity to participate in Christ’s woundedness and sufferings. To ‘play’ a part that saves us from moral culpability or villainy. You may well do this and I’m hardly in a position to argue you shouldn’t do that. We all work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

But – I hope you can forgive my boldness – may I commend another aspect to consider? In those distressing moments I think you will have (my constructed version of you, my hopeful version of you, thinks you will have them) I ask you to pause and pray. To think of Jeremy and Simon. To not lose sight of their human being and their particularity and their distress. And though (I admit my limitation here) I don’t think your distress is exactly commensurate (you being a bishop with all the privilege that goes with that etc.) I hope there may be a conversion to ‘the other’ in the mysteries of prayer and distress. The theatre of Tragedy, after all, reminds us that there is some knowledge that only comes through pain and wounds. And the Christian story reminds us that tragedy is very close to comedy; to the possibility of a world in which wounds are bound and the falsely imprisoned set free.

Forgive me. I get carried away. Especially at Christmas. Christmas is so very cheesy, but it can still startle me in the most extraordinary way. The Christ-child always reminds me that God comes among us not with clever arguments or theological constructions, but as that most fragile and defenceless thing, a baby. His only power is to elicit love. The encounter we make with God in the Christ-child is beyond the obvious delights of reason. It is in our shared humanity and holy simplicity. A thousand theological and political arguments come crashing down in Bethlehem on that Holy Night.

So may you have a blessed Christmas, Tim. But also, - along with Canon Jeremy, his husband Simon, me, and everyone who is simply trying to get on with being faithful and hopeful – a disrupting one. Where the Saviour without Safety pulls down the walls between us