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…

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 at 12:03pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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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

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at 9:34am BST | Comments (59) | TrackBack
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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…

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 4 April 2016 at 6:03pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 April 2016 at 12:51pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 March 2016 at 9:42am GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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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 (50) | 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

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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

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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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 February 2016 at 7:54pm GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 January 2016 at 5:52pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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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.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 January 2016 at 2:11pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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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.

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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

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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…

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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…

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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.”

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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

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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 and we can never be the same again.

Beth Routledge The Appalling Silence of the Good. Here are some extracts (but again do read the whole thing from the beginning):

…The silence from the hierarchy of the Church of England has been deafening.

Senior figures of the Church have either been living under a rock since Saturday, or else they are all keeping their heads down and hoping that if they stay quiet then this will all go away…

…I still struggle to find any love or common sense in the response of a Church that chooses to punish someone for marrying the person they love. I’ve witnessed it from inside the process — on this matter, the Scottish Episcopal Church cannot claim any moral high ground — as well as watching from the outside when something like this happens in England. I find anger and hurt and pain. I rarely find any sense of pastoral response or responsibility. I cannot believe I am seeing what God wants.

And three days after this story broke, still that deafening sound of nothing from everyone associated with the Church of England.

That is a strategy that isn’t acceptable and never worked anyway, and speaking for myself I find that I’m no longer able to pretend to respect individuals who are supportive of me just so long as I never expect them to say it out loud or in public or when it might matter.

Because here’s the thing:

Either people in the Church think that LGBT people are made in the image and likeness and love of God, and recognise that LGBT people are in and of the Church, and want the Church to value and cherish the hopes and dreams of its LGBT clergy, or they don’t.

The more we hear of stories like this one and the more senior figures in the Church of England avoid talking about them, the louder I hear their answer.

Christina Rees The Church has banned a gay priest - here’s what you can do about it

…At some point, the Church of England is bound to change its legal position on same -sex marriage too. But changing some people’s hearts and minds on the issue will take much longer.

If you don’t like what’s happened to Jeremy Davies and others in similar positions, then you have some choices. Write to the bishops and let them know what you think. Stand for deanery, diocesan or General Synod - although you’ll have to wait nearly five years for the next elections.

Join a group like Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, LGCM or Accepting Evangelicals and support the work they’re doing, both within and outside the synodical structures of the Church of England.

One of the most valuable characteristics of Anglicanism is its commitment to being a broad church, where people of differing views - even sharply differing views - can continue to worship, discuss and debate together.

General Synod’s wheels may turn slowly, but at least we have somewhere that lay, clerical and episcopal voices can be heard and where each member’s vote holds equal weight.

So whatever else you do, don’t just sit around getting angry or depressed.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 9:22am GMT | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Michael Harrison to be next Bishop of Dunwich

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich: Michael Robert Harrison

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 16 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Michael Robert Harrison to the Suffragan See of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Michael Robert Harrison, MA, PhD, Director of Ministry and Mission, in the diocese of Leicester, to the Suffragan See of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in succession to the Right Reverend Clive Young, BA, on his resignation on 31 May 2013.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Mike Harrison (age 52) is at present Director of Mission and Ministry in the Leicester diocese and also Honorary Canon of Leicester Cathedral. His undergraduate studies were in mathematics and statistics at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Following on from this Mike worked as both a management consultant and a social worker in London. He trained for the ministry at Oxford. After ordination Mike served as Assistant Curate at St Anne and All Saints, South Lambeth for 4 years. During this time he studied for a PhD in doctrine at King’s College, London University. From 1994 to 1998 he was Chaplain at Bradford University and Bradford and Ilkley Community College, where he was also Diocesan World Development Advisor and completed an MA in international development studies at Bradford University. From 1998 he was Vicar of Holy Trinity, Eltham in the diocese of Southwark and from 2005 he was also Rural Dean of Eltham and Mottingham. He moved to Leicester diocese in 2006, and since then has been involved in growing the mission of local parishes as well as developing missional leadership, pioneer ministry and fresh expressions of church.

Mike writes:

“It has been a huge privilege to be involved in the development of mission and evangelism in the Leicester diocese over the last decade and to serve as Director of Mission and Ministry. I am delighted that this new role will enable me to continue to work in this area while taking on wider responsibilities as Bishop of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.”

Mike is married to Rachel, an occupational therapist and they have 4 children, aged 13 to 21. For many years Mike has enjoyed running, completing a number of marathons, as well as keeping fit through swimming, cycling and the gym. He is a passionate supporter of Bolton Wanderers (having been born in Bolton) and (not unrelated) has an interest in live comedy.

St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocesan website: The next Bishop of Dunwich announced
Leicester diocesan website: Mike Harrison appointed next Bishop of Dunwich

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 10:56am GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Martyn Snow to be next Bishop of Leicester

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Leicester: Martyn James Snow

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 15 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Right Reverend Martyn Snow for election as Bishop of Leicester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Martyn James Snow, BSc, BTh, MA Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury, in the diocese of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Leicester in succession to the Right Reverend Timothy John Stevens, MA, on his resignation on 31 August 2015.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Martyn Snow (aged 47), studied at Sheffield University and then trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his first curacy at Brinsworth with Catcliffe and Treeton in the diocese of Sheffield from 1995 to 1997. He worked for the Church Mission Society in Guinea, West Africa from 1998 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2010 he was vicar at Christ Church, Pitsmoor, in the diocese of Sheffield. From 2007 to 2010 he was also Area Dean of Ecclesfield. From 2010 to 2013 he was Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham. Since 2013 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury.

The Right Reverend Martyn Snow is married to Dr Lynn Snow, a paediatrician and they have 3 children (aged 14, 12 and 10). Alongside his enjoyment of travel and engaging with other cultures, his interests include sport, music and kayaking.

Leicester diocesan website Welcome to the New Bishop of Leicester
Gloucester diocesan website Bishop Martyn to become next Bishop of Leicester

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 10:58am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Church of England criticised by survivor of sexual abuse

This week the Church Times carries a long article by Professor Julie Macfarlane of the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada about her experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest in England.

An abuse survivor’s tale

Today the BBC Sunday programme carried an interview with her. You can hear it in the last 9.5 minutes of the programme, here, from 34.5 minutes onwards.

This includes the reading out of a statement issued by the Church of England in response. There is also a discussion of the legal issues with Joshua Rozenberg.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 3:28pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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EHRC statements on cinema advertisement ban

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission issued the following statement on 11 December:

Statement on Freedom of Expression and the Lord’s Prayer

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today announced that the issues raised by Digital Cinema Media’s (DCM) decision not to show a Church of England advert about the Lord’s Prayer in cinemas, will be examined as part of a major Commission report.

This report, examining the adequacy of the law protecting freedom of religion or belief, will be published early next year. The DCM decision has generated significant public concern about freedom of speech.

The Commission, the national expert in equality and human rights law, has also offered its legal expertise for the purpose of intervening in the case should the Church take legal proceedings against DCM.

The Commission has written to DCM to highlight the importance of Britain’s long tradition of freedom of expression and to reiterate its concerns about the justification for not showing the advertisement being that it risked offending audiences. There is no right in Britain not to be offended, and respect for people’s right to express beliefs with which others might disagree is the mark of a democratic society.

Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said:

“We strongly disagree with the decision not to show the adverts on the grounds they might ‘offend’ people.
“There is no right not to be offended in the UK; what is offensive is very subjective and this is a slippery slope towards increasing censorship.”
“We also understand why people were confused that a commercial Christmas can be advertised but the central Christian prayer cannot. We will therefore examine the issues raised by this case as part of our major review into the law protecting freedom of religion or belief, and publish our findings in the new year.”

Earlier, on 23 November, the Commission had issued this statement: Commission comments on Christian advert being banned from cinemas

Commenting in response to a Christian advert being banned from being shown in the cinema, a Commission spokesperson, said:

“Freedom to hold a religion and freedom to express ideas are essential British values. We are concerned by any blanket ban on adverts by all religious groups.
“Digital Cinema Media have said an advert could cause offence to those of differing faiths or without belief. There is no right not to be offended in the UK; what is offensive is very subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder.
“This does not mean groups or individuals are free to express themselves without restriction. Freedom of expression can be and is restricted but only in order to prevent violence, abuse or discrimination for example. There is nothing in law that prevents Christian organisations promoting their faith through adverts.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 2:55pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 12 December 2015

Married clergyman banned in Winchester

Updated Sunday evening

Canon Jeremy Davies, the retired precentor of Salisbury Cathedral has been denied Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Winchester.

Salisbury canon banned from preaching in Winchester over gay marriage

A CLERGYMAN from Salisbury has been banned from taking services in Winchester because he married his gay partner last year.

Canon Jeremy Davies, who served as Canon Precentor at Salisbury Cathedral for more than 25 years, has been told he cannot preach in the Winchester Diocese because he married opera singer Simon McEnery.

Winchester Cathedral had recently asked Canon Davies to take a number of services in the future, which he will now not be allowed to carry out.

The Diocese of Winchester objected to the fact that a year ago, Canon Davies married his partner of nearly thirty years.

Since the wedding, Jeremy has taken more than half a dozen services in Winchester Cathedral, with no objections.

In fact, Jeremy has been much in demand since his retirement, preaching and lecturing regularly both in the UK and the United States.

A spokesman for the Winchester Diocese said: “Canon Jeremy Davies made an application earlier this year for permission to officiate in the Diocese of Winchester.

“Due to the Church of England’s position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful.”

Updates

This story has now been reported in the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, and on the BBC.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 10:02am GMT | Comments (62) | TrackBack
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Monday, 7 December 2015

Commission on Religion & Belief in British Public Life

Updated Monday afternoon and evening, Tuesday evening, Friday evening

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life has published its report this morning: Living with Difference: community, diversity and the common good. The report is 104 pages long, but there is a three-page executive summary at the beginning.

The Commission was convened by the Woolf Institute, Cambridge, to:

a) consider the place and role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain, and the significance of emerging trends and identities

b) examine how ideas of Britishness and national identity may be inclusive of a range of religions and beliefs, and may in turn influence peoples self-understanding

c) explore how shared understandings of the common good may contribute to greater levels of mutual trust and collective action, and to a more harmonious society

d) make recommendations for public life and policy.

Press Release from the Commission: UK needs ‘New Settlement’ for religion & belief says Butler-Sloss

Ed Kessler, founder and director of the Woolf Institute, writes for The Huffington post UK about Living With Difference.

press reports

BBC News Call for fewer Church of England bishops in House of Lords

Jonathan Owen Independent Britain is no longer just a Christian country, says major report

Harriet Sherwood The Observer Top judge leads calls to scrap mandatory daily Christian worship in UK schools
The Guardian Coronation of next monarch should reflect ‘less Christian’ Britain, report says

John Bingham and Steven Swinford The Telegraph Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is, says judge

reactions to the report

Church of England Response to report from Commission on Religion & Belief in British Public Life
[copied below the fold]

National Secular Society Woolf Commission’s multifaithism ‘completely at odds with the religious indifference that permeates British society’

Updates

Angus Ritchie and Shana Cohen (who are two members of the Commission) The Guardian Don’t be suspicious of faith-based charities – let us speak truth to power

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith Catholic Herald The Corab report is grossly unfair to Catholic schools

Caroline Wyatt BBC News We should do God, says report into religion in public life

John Dickens Schools Week Religion should have the same importance as English and maths, new study claims

Charles Moore The Telegraph We need more religion in our schools, not less

Chloe Farand Independent Mandatory Christian prayers in schools ‘should be axed’

Eliza Filby The Telegraph Faith integration is bad enough in Britain; reducing the role of the Church will only make it worse

Tim Wyatt and Margaret Holness Church Times ‘New settlement needed to overhaul public life’
[updated article and link]

The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on religion in public life: education may be the answer

Andrew Lightbown Some issues with Butler-Sloss

Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK The CORAB report: Living with Difference

Richard Harries Church Times Faith now is more about food than beliefs

Church of England press release

Response to report from Commission on Religion & Belief in British Public Life
07 December 2015

We welcome the call in this report for greater religious literacy and the highlighting of the scale of social action by the Church - as well as its recommendation that where a religious organisation is best placed to deliver a social good, it should not be disadvantaged.

“We also welcome the acknowledgement that the establishment of the Church of England has helped the integration of non-Christian perspectives in British society and helped them to make their voices heard in the public sphere. The Church of England, through its dioceses, parishes and at national level has been at the forefront of work to increase understanding between the different faiths.

“We are however disappointed that the report misunderstands the role of Church of England schools in providing a rounded education to more than a million pupils from all backgrounds as part of our commitment to the common good. If there is a significant problem with our schools it is that many of them are so popular that they are oversubscribed and not every parent who wants to can send their children to one.

“The report also misunderstands collective worship in schools. We believe that if the law on collective worship were repealed schools would risk losing this vital element of shaping a community that reflects the full breadth of human experience. We know, for example, that the response of many schools to the horror of the Paris attacks will have been in the context of collective worship.

“The report is dominated by the old fashioned view that traditional religion is declining in importance and that non-adherence to a religion is the same as humanism or secularism.

“In a fortnight where we have seen overwhelming public support for the Church of England over the Lord’s Prayer cinema advert, it is important to remember that most public opinion is strongly opposed to the marginalisation of Christianity.

ends

Blog by Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer

Blog by Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission & Public Affairs

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 7 December 2015 at 10:26am GMT | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 December 2015

This Is What It’s Like To Sue The Church Of England For Discrimination

Patrick Strudwick writes for BuzzFeed News: This Is What It’s Like To Sue The Church Of England For Discrimination.

“Canon Jeremy Pemberton was the first British clergyman to marry another man. What happened next sparked a landmark legal battle. He tells BuzzFeed News how the fight for equality became a fight for his sanity, career, and reputation.”

The article begins:

There is a hand-stitched cushion cover that sits, unfinished, in Jeremy Pemberton’s house. He began sewing the design when he could not get out of bed, when he had sunk so far into despair that focusing on each tiny stitch was the only way to stay sane.

The story of how he sank, off work and resisting thoughts of suicide, reaches far beyond the walls of the home he shares with the man he loves. It is the story of what happens when you take on the Church of England. And it is one that Pemberton has never revealed in full – until now.

The case of Canon Jeremy Pemberton, daubed across newspapers and television channels, has been reported so widely that many already know what happened to the first British clergyman to marry someone of the same sex: that he was stripped of his powers as a priest, unable to conduct official duties, and then barred from a job as an NHS hospital chaplain. As a result, he took the Church of England to an employment tribunal on a charge of discrimination.

But what has gone untold is the inner story behind the landmark case, and, remarkably, the household name that was backing him…

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 5 December 2015 at 10:30am GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 December 2015

Post General Synod round-up

The official record of Business Done
Electronic Voting Results for the motion on the migrant crisis

There are a number of videos of Synod business here.

The December issue of InReview includes reports from Synod.

Election addresses for the Election of Chair, Vice-Chair and Two Members of the Archbishops’ Council by the House of Laity
[Read the Covering Document to see who is standing for what.]

press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times UK is castigated for weak response to Syrian migration
The Garstang Courier Vicar made chaplain of church’s highest governing body

some blogs

Stephen Lynas
Her Majesty’s a very nice girl
Negotiations and love songs

Anderson Jeremiah
How the Church of England is trying to make itself relevant again
The Church of England’s vote to effectively back military action is a shocking mistake

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 December 2015 at 10:07pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Synod election turnout

Updated on Friday to add questions 36 and 37 and their answer below the fold

In the Questions session at this week’s General Synod the Secretary General was asked about turnout in the recent elections to Synod. In reply he gave these figures, together with those from 2010 for comparison.

percentages 2015   2010  
Canterbury        
Average overall 51.88   51.32  
Average clergy 56.86   55.91  
Average laity 46.91   46.74  
Highest turnout clergy 67.96 (Birmingham) 75.00 (Ely)
Lowest turnout clergy 45.60 (Hereford) 43.20 (Bristol)
Highest turnout laity 72.10 (Guildford) 64.13 (Chelmsford)
Lowest turnout laity 29.82 (Hereford) 37.83 (Lincoln)
York        
Average overall 48.18   50.35  
Average clergy 52.49   57.23  
Average laity 43.87   43.48  
Highest turnout clergy 69.00 (Sodor & Man) 73.90 (Sodor & Man)
Lowest turnout clergy 39.86 (Liverpool) 46.50 (Liverpool)
Highest turnout laity 56.96 (Chester) 54.70 (Sodor & Man)
Lowest turnout laity 34.74 (Liverpool) 36.30 (Liverpool)

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:

Q36 Despite the fact that electors had nearly three weeks to return their voting papers in the recent General Synod election, the turnout in most dioceses was depressingly low—under 50% for the House of Laity election in 22 of the 33 dioceses that have posted the figures on their websites, and under 40% in four dioceses (Manchester 35.39%, Oxford 38.28%, Peterborough 30.79% and Salisbury 35.44%). Will the Chair of the Business Committee confirm that the Elections Review Group will look into the reasons for the low turnout and also bring forward legislative proposals to make provision for online voting in 2020 as agreed by Synod at the November 2013 Group of Sessions?

Mr Clive Scowen (London) to ask the Chair of the Business Committee:

Q37 Has the Business Committee considered bringing to the new Synod early in this quinquennium options as to how the electorate for the House of Laity might be formed for future elections, in time for any change which the Synod might consider appropriate to be implemented in time for the 2020 elections, and, if not, will it now do so?

The Revd Canon Sue Booys to reply as Chair of the Business Committee:

A With permission, I will take these questions together. All these issues are important potential areas for consideration by the Elections Review Group, a sub-committee of the Business Committee, which will be established early in this new Quinquennium. Synod members wishing to request further work on these and other matters should write to the Clerk to the Synod, requesting that they be tabled for consideration when the Elections Review Group is re-formed, which is likely to be early in 2016.

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Karen Gorham to be next Bishop of Sherborne

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Sherborne: Karen Marisa Gorham
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 26 November 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Venerable Karen Marisa Gorham to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Karen Marisa Gorham, BA, Archdeacon of Buckingham in the diocese of Oxford, to the Suffragan See of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury in succession to the Right Reverend Graham Ralph Kings MA PhD, on his resignation on the 15 July 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Karen Gorham (age 51) holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. Prior to ordination she worked as an administrator with BTEC and the Royal Society of Arts and as a Pastoral Assistant in Essex and Hull. She served her title at Northallerton with Kirby Sigston in the diocese of York from 1995 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1996 and in 1999 went on to become Priest-in-Charge of St Paul’s, Maidstone in the diocese of Canterbury. During this time she was also Assistant Director of Ordinands and Area Dean of Maidstone.

In 2006 she became an Honorary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral. She took up her current role as Archdeacon of Buckingham in 2007. Karen has been a member of the Church of England General Synod for 12 years, and for the last 2 has served as a member of the Panel of Chairs.

Her interests include travel and walking, the coast and Celtic spirituality. She enjoys days out with friends and an occasional visit to a good restaurant to sample the taster menu. Karen has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts since 2012.

The Salisbury diocesan website has this: Karen Gorham to be New Bishop of Sherborne, and Oxford has this: Archdeacon Karen to be Bishop of Sherborne.
The new bishop will be consecrated on 24 February 2016.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

General Synod - day 2 of 2

Updated Thursday morning

Business on Wednesday 25 November

Church of England press releases
Concern for the planet is not a Christian ‘add-on’, Archbishop of York tells Synod
General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees [See below the fold for the text of this press release]
Synod agrees to cut red tape to secure future for vulnerable churches

Official brief summaries of the day’s business
General Synod November 2015 - Wednesday AM
General Synod November 2015 - Wednesday PM

Archbishop of York’s Climate Change Presentation at Synod

Press reports
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Justin Welby says UK military action in Syria ‘almost inevitable’
Antony Bushfield Premier Synod votes to back “military force” to create safe route for refugees
Florence Taylor Christian Today Justin Welby endorses use of force in Syria
Independent Catholic News Coptic Bishop speaks on migration crisis during CofE Synod

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Churches launch call to prayer to reverse negative views of Jesus and Christianity

John Bingham The Telegraph Rural vicars ‘drowning’ amid battle to keep empty churches open

General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees
25 November 2015

The General Synod has given its overwhelming backing to work by parishes and dioceses to support the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian refugees, in a debate focusing on the humanitarian response to the migrant crisis.

Members of the General Synod approved a motion welcoming the scale of aid provided by the Government for those suffering as a result of the conflict in Syria but called for significantly more Syrian refugees to be allowed to resettle in this country than the Government’s target of 20,000 over five years.

The Synod urged parishes and dioceses to work in partnership with local authorities and other community organisations to provide practical help for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees and to pray for all those seeking both to address the causes as well as the symptoms of the crisis.

Synod members called upon the Government to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that vulnerability to religiously motivated persecution is taken into account when determining who is received into Britain.

The motion also called upon the Government to work with international partners in Europe and elsewhere to help establish safe and legal routes to places of safety, including this country, for refugees who are vulnerable and at severe risk.

Members of the General Synod further voted to call upon the Government to take a ‘fair and proportionate’ share of refugees now within the European Union, particularly those with family already legally resident in the UK.

Moving the motion, Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke of work already under way by Anglicans to help vulnerable refugees both in Britain and in Europe. He added that it was ‘hard to imagine’ a list of British values which did not include the word ‘hospitality’ - which stands ‘close to the heart of the Christian gospel’.

“Many in the churches believe that, if we put our backs into working with others to create the capacity, we can make 20,000 a number that can be comfortably exceeded,” he said.

“After all, it is not money that will do most to enable people driven from Syria to make new lives. It is practical care from a community, inviting them in, suggesting in many practical ways the possibility of hope and the promise of safety.”

To read Bishop Paul’s speech in full see here.

End

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

General Synod - day 1 of 2

Updated Wednesday morning and evening

The Tenth General Synod of the Church of England was inaugurated this morning (Tuesday) with a service in Westminster Abbey, after which Synod members moved to the Synod chamber in Church House for an address by The Queen.

Report by the Abbey: HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh attend Synod service
Text of the sermon at the Abbey by Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household
Archbishop [of Canterbury] welcomes The Queen to General Synod
Text of The Queen’s speech at the Inauguration of the Tenth General Synod of the Church of England
Speech of Thanks to Her Majesty The Queen from the Archbishop of York

Reports on the morning’s activities
Gavin Drake for the Anglican Communion News Service: Queen Elizabeth speaks on Christian Unity and Primates Meeting
John Bingham The Telegraph Queen tells CoE to learn art of peacemaking amid splits over sexuality
BBC News Queen calls for unity at Church of England general synod
Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Our persecutors already see us as one’, Papal official tells Synod
Sean Smith The Tablet Church of England should be bridge between Catholics and Evangelicals, Pope’s preacher tells synod

Reports from the afternoon

Text of Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address
Official brief summary of the afternoon’s business: General Synod November 2015 - Tuesday PM
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England could scrap reading of marriage banns
John Bingham The Telegraph Ditch the mitre? I’d look ‘underdressed’ in inner city, says bishop
Harriet Sherwood The Guardian How the mitres have fallen: bishops’ headwear is personal choice, says C of E

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Monday, 23 November 2015

pre-General Synod press reports and blogs

Updated Monday evening

The General Synod of the Church of England meets on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The papers are linked here and there is an outline of the agenda here.

The questions and answers have been published this morning.

Here are some recent online articles.

Bishop of Sheffield Reform and Renewal: the Noddy and Big Ears Guide

Harriet Sherwood The Observer Welby bids to defuse Church of England’s ‘demographic time bomb’

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service C of E proposes to repeal obsolete Medieval laws
This refers to this paper GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure. The consultation closes on 29 January 2016.

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Wedding banns face axe after 800 years as senior clergy think practice of reading out names ahead of ceremony is ‘antiquated’.
BBC News Marriage banns ‘should be axed’ urges clergy member
Stephen Trott’s motion is contained in notice paper 4, and reads:

“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 1997, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”

Update

Stephen Lynas We’ve only just begun…

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Church of England “bewildered” by cinema ban on Lord’s Prayer

Updated again Monday morning

The official press release with this headline is here:

The Church of England has said it is “bewildered” by the refusal of the country’s leading cinemas to show a 60 second advert of The Lord’s Prayer, adding that the “plain silly” decision could have a “chilling effect” on free speech.

The Church’s response follows its launch of a new website to promote the renewal of prayer in a digital age.

The website JustPray.uk creates a place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a “live prayer” feed of prayers being prayed across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine.

The Church has produced an advert promoting the new website to be shown in cinemas from December 18 2015 as part of the ad reel before Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The 60 second advert features Christians from all walks of life praying one line of the Lord’s prayer and includes weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Church has announced today that the country’s three largest cinema chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue - who control 80% of cinema screens around the country - have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”…

The website for the campaign is here, and the advert itself can be viewed from here.

The Daily Mail has detailed coverage of this story: Archbishop Welby’s fury at cinema ban on ‘offensive’ Lord’s prayer: Church threaten to sue after plug pulled on advert due to be shown to millions at Christmas.

Towards the end of the article there is this:

…At the end of August, a bemused Rev Arora spoke to Andy Edge, commercial director for Odeon and a board member of DCM, who agreed to try to resolve the issue.
However, in another email sent on September 16, DCM’s finance director Paul Maloney told Rev Arora: ‘Having fully looked into the matter, I am afraid we will be unable to take forward the proposed Church of England campaign … DCM has a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs.

‘Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.
‘We at DCM had first-hand experience of this risk when we and our members received considerable negative feedback from audiences following our decision to allow both Yes and No campaigners to run adverts in the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum.
‘Having learned from this … the board of DCM took the decision not to run any advertising promoting any religion or political views.’

The Church’s chief legal adviser, Stephen Slack, then wrote to the UK Cinema Association, an umbrella organisation that took over the dispute from DCM, saying the decision was ‘extremely disappointing’.

He warned it could ‘give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings’ under the Equality Act, which outlaws commercial organisations from refusing services on the grounds of religion.

However, the Association’s chief executive Phil Clapp said the DCM was within its right to refuse to show the film.

Rev Arora said: ‘In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech.’ Last night Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Religious freedom is a cornerstone of British values. The public will find it surprising, particularly at this time of year, that cinemas have reacted in this way.’

Updates

Here is a link to the DCM advertising policy document. The key paragraph which prohibits all religious advertising is this:

Religious Advertising means… advertising which wholly or partly advertises any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief (including any absence of belief) or any part of any religion, faith or such equivalent systems of belief.

Some further media coverage:

BBC Lord’s Prayer cinema ad snub ‘bewilders’ Church of England

Guardian Cinemas refuse to show Church of England advert featuring Lord’s Prayer

Telegraph Ban Christmas ads if you don’t like religion, Church tells cinemas

…Rev Arun Arora, the Church of England’s director of communications, told the Telegraph: “If they want to be consistent on not carrying any ads that have any connection with religious belief, I’d like them to cancel all ads linked to Christmas as a Christian festival.

“If they’d like to apply it consistently, ban every ad that mentions Christmas.”
He said DCM’s decision, which was condemned by atheists and other faith groups alike, was “chilling in terms of limiting freedom of speech”.

Yorkshire Evening Post Bishop of Leeds Bishop of Leeds: Lord’s Prayer cinema ban is due to “illiteracy of a liberal culture”

Guardian Giles Fraser Banning the Lord’s Prayer from cinemas is nonsense on stilts

According to a new article this morning in the Daily Mail

…Yesterday it emerged that DCM, which controls 80 per cent of UK cinema advertising and is jointly-owned by Odeon and Cineworld, was so eager to host the advert in July that an agent offered the Church a 55 per cent discount.

But on August 3, he claimed the cinemas would refuse to show the clip, saying ‘our hands are tied by these guys’.

Executives later said that DCM had turned the advert down because its policy prevented it airing trailers ‘connected to personal beliefs’.

Finance director Paul Maloney emailed the Church in September claiming DCM decided not to show any political or religious adverts following complaints during last year’s Scottish referendum, when it allowed both Yes and No campaign videos.

In an email on September 17, he said there was ‘no formal policy document’ on religion.

But yesterday DCM claimed its decision was based on its ‘policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content for use in cinemas’ – pointing to a document on its website as evidence.

Analysis by the Mail reveals this document’s creation date was last Friday – just two days before the farce was revealed by the Mail on Sunday.

DCM did not respond last night to questions about when the policy had been written.

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Monday, 16 November 2015

Affirming Catholicism on the Seal of Confession

We published recently responses to the Working Group on the Seal of Confession established by the Archbishops’ Council from Forward in Faith and from Anglican Catholic Future.

Here is the response issued by Affirming Catholicism:
Affirming Catholicism response to the proposals on modifying the rules relating to the seal of the confessional

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Friday, 13 November 2015

Church Times reports and comments on CNC document

See previous article here.

Today, the Church Times has this news report by Tim Wyatt Public statements on sex can be a bar, CNC is advised.

And, it has a leader article, Lawful, but doleful that unpacks what is actually going on here:

…If hard cases make bad law, they also prompt bad guidance. The hard case in this instance is the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, and, although not named, this guidance is essentially about him. He is not a conventional hard case, of course: the difficulty he has caused the church hierarchy stems from his popularity with successive CNCs. Their deliberations are confidential, but it is well known that, besides his appointment as Bishop of Reading in 2003, subsequently withdrawn, he has come close to being chosen for the sees of Southwark, Exeter, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich…

And, it later continues:

…the new guidance repeats the view that it would not be illegal to discriminate against someone (i.e. Dr John) on the grounds of his past statements on sexuality if it were felt that these prevented his being a focus of unity, a fundamental element of episcopal ministry. The fragility of this argument when compared with the weight given to candidates’ views on other subjects is what has led to this succession of legal clarifications, especially in the light of Dr John’s threat of a legal challenge after the Southwark fiasco. The difficulty of making general rules from individual cases is that they must be applied indiscriminately. The recent appointment of the chairman of Reform, a conservative Evangelical campaigning group, to be Bishop of Maidstone might be questioned in the light of this guidance…

Read it all.

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Church of England Financial Overview 2004-13

The Church of England has just published its Financial Overview 2013 which draws together the finances of the Church of England into one place. It aggregates financial information from over 12,000 parishes, 44 dioceses, 41 cathedrals and 3 National Church Institutions as the press release below explains.

New report consolidates finances of the Church of England
10 November 2015

The Church of England has published a new overview of its finances for the 10 years from 2004-2013, drawing together information from over 12,000 parishes, 44 dioceses, 41 cathedrals and three National Church Institutions (NCIs) into one place.

The report finds that the church’s overall income in 2013 was just over £1.41 billion, over half of which was from donations from parishioners, fundraising and grants. It also shows that the majority of the income from the NCIs is from the Church Commissioners, an investment fund of around £6 billion which uses its returns to support the mission of the church across the country.

Carol Fletcher, Senior Financial Planner for the Church of England, said “Bringing together statistics from across the Church of England is a great way of showing the extent of what we do and how we function. Through our investments, trading income and of course the generosity of parishioners, we have been able to continue in our mission to be a Christian presence in every community.”

The report also reveals:

Weekly giving per parishioner has increased across the period of the study.

Two thirds (67%) of the Church of England’s income comes from parishes, 9% from dioceses, 9% from cathedrals and 15% from the NCIs (predominantly the Church Commissioners).

Expenditure in 2013 was slightly higher than income, at just under £1.43 billion. Just over half of expenditure was for clergy stipends, clergy housing and parishes, and cathedral operating costs.

Caring for church buildings, including cathedrals, represents 13% of overall expenditure.

Notes

The report is available to download here.

The Church of England is made up of a number of distinct but interconnected organisations, all of which are independent bodies. The Financial Overview amalgamates the finances of the Church of England to show its scale as if it were one, consolidated organisation.

The three National Church Institutions covered by the report are the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, and the Church of England Pensions Board.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Jeremy Pemberton case and what it means

This is a copy of the article I recently wrote for Stonewall, and is reproduced here with their agreement.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton is a priest of the Church of England. He works for the NHS as a chaplain in a hospital in Lincoln, and was recently offered a new job as a chaplain at a hospital in Nottinghamshire. But because he married his partner, this offer to work was revoked. Why? Because Jeremy is gay and his partner is male.

Last week, Jeremy lost his claim of discrimination against the Church of England in an employment tribunal. The court ruled that the Church’s refusal to issue Jeremy a license to work in a different NHS hospital, in a different diocese, because he is in a same-sex marriage, was in fact an act of direct discrimination. But shockingly they ruled this discrimination lawful, because there are religious exemptions to the Equality Act 2010, despite this post being in the NHS.

Jeremy has been in a long-term relationship with his male partner for over seven years. They never entered a civil partnership. When the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act 2013 was passed, they immediately decided to get married. Before the ceremony could take place, in February 2014, the CofE’s House of Bishops issued a statement (Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage) that said clergy were not free to enter a same-sex marriage. They said it was contrary to the Church’s doctrine on marriage. They also said that in future they would not ordain any person who had already entered such a marriage. Despite this, Jeremy and his partner married on 12 April.

Jeremy’s domestic arrangements were never a secret and always well-known to all the Church authorities. He still holds a bishop’s licence to work as a hospital chaplain in Lincoln diocese, and he formerly also had permission to preach or take services in the Southwell and Nottingham diocese, where he lives. However, soon after he got married, he was no longer allowed to preach in Southwell and Nottingham. Around this time, Jeremy applied for a more senior NHS chaplaincy post, much closer to his home, and the NHS trust decided he was the best candidate. But when the trust applied to the local Nottinghamshire bishop for Jeremy to be licensed, the Nottinghamshire bishop refused. Jeremy therefore took the diocese to an employment tribunal.

The tribunal found that the Church of England has a doctrine of marriage which excludes the possibility of same-sex marriage. It also said that the statement made in February had warned clergy that entering such a marriage would remove them from being “in good standing”. The court held that a matter of doctrine was involved: clergy were not allowed to enter same-sex marriages. And this meant that bishops were entitled to withhold licenses from clergy in same-sex marriages, provided that the post also was “for the purposes of a religious organisation”. In the court’s opinion Jeremy’s post of NHS chaplain was indeed for such purposes.

So where does this leave us? First it is extremely likely that the case will be appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. And then a definite legal precedent, one way or the other, will be set that will be binding on other courts. Second, it raises questions not only for the NHS, but also for other secular bodies (schools, police, prisons, universities, etc.) that currently employ Church of England priests as chaplains. They might want to review the terms on which they do so, to avoid being similarly treated – or dictated to – by the Church. Third, it will lead to renewed concern in Parliament about the extent of the religious exemptions that are currently allowed, and whether they should be reviewed. These are far more wide-reaching than in any other European country. The establishment status of the Church of England will also be questioned yet again.

But more important than any of these is the PR disaster for the Church of England that this case has already created. The public simply does not comprehend why the Church’s official bodies, as opposed to its members generally, are so set against same-sex marriage. Why is a person’s sexual orientation accepted, but their relationship is not? Why is it OK to be gay and a priest, but it’s not OK to want to make the person you love your husband, and still expect to keep your job.

This is a mixed message, and seems to go against a core teaching of the Church that God is love. How, if this is true, can the Church refuse to recognise loving same-sex relationships? If God made us all different, why should we all act the same? This is incredibly difficult to reconcile for LGBT people of faith, and it can create an ever-widening chasm for some people between a strongly held belief in God and a very real sense of rejection from the Church.

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Is a public statement on human sexuality something for the CNC to consider?

Readers may recall that at General Synod in July, John Ward asked a Question of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as reported fully here. This in turn followed from a previous Question asked in February, also reported here. The incidents to which reference is made in the questions occurred in September/October 2014 and in October/November 2013.

The guidance document to which the question refers has now been published: ARCHBISHOPSGUIDELINES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF “CHOOSING BISHOPS THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 (REVISED)” (GS Misc 1044).
This document is dated March 2015, and as explained in its first section, it was revised following the passage of the women bishops legislation in 2014. Presumably therefore there was an earlier version of this guidance issued in 2013, shortly after the issue of GS Misc 1044 itself.

That document dated June 2013 to which this refers is also available on the CofE website as a PDF, and here as a normal web page.

Pages 3 and 4 of this newly published guidance constitute a section entitled: The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality.
This portion is copied in full below the fold, but you need to read the whole document to get the context. However, you will note that GS Misc 1044 itself contains no reference to this topic.

The relevance of a candidate’s previous public statements on human sexuality

14. The focus of the Legal Office note is the imposition of a requirement of one of the kinds described in paragraph 7. The imposition of such a requirement is a significant thing, its effect being completely to exclude from consideration those whose circumstances are inconsistent with the requirement. But, as noted above, if a requirement is not imposed the fact that a candidate falls into one or other of the two categories is to be ignored and may not be the subject of any further discussion or questioning.

15. It is possible that a further issue may arise in the course of the CNC’s deliberations which is distinct from the possible imposition of a requirement. That is whether, when considering whether the candidate can fulfil the fundamental calling of a bishop to be a ‘focus of unity’, the CNC can nonetheless lawfully take into account the content and manner of any public statements previously made by him or her about the Church’s traditional teaching on same-sex relations.

16. Taking a consideration of this kind into account is different from imposing a requirement. Rather, in terms of the Equality Act, it involves the application of a ‘criterion’, in the light of which (amongst other criteria) the decision on nomination would be made.

17. A discussion of this kind would not have involved indirect discrimination under the Equality Act, had the Act applied, even if in practice such a discussion might put a homosexual candidate at a disadvantage when compared with heterosexual candidates. The concept of ‘indirect discrimination’ under the Act does not extend to a situation in which a criterion is applied as a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim; and a criterion designed to assess how well a candidate would, if nominated, be able to fulfil a fundamental aspect of a bishop’s role would have passed that test.

18. It would accordingly be open to the CNC, in principle, to have a discussion of this kind, in an appropriate case. Were it to do so, then the criterion would need to be weighed alongside others. So it would be for each individual member of the CNC to decide how much weight to attach to it.

19. However, it would be essential that any discussion of this issue was confined to weighing the implications of the candidate’s previous public statements for his or her ability to act as a focus of unity, rather than taking account of the implications of his or her sexuality or status as a civil partner. The latter would involve taking account of irrelevant, and unlawful, considerations, since those matters have either to be addressed through the imposition of a requirement or left out of account altogether.

20. In addition, the mere fact that a candidate had publicly questioned the Church of England’s teaching on human sexuality, or indeed that of the Anglican Communion as articulated in Lambeth 1:10, would not be sufficient to raise any issue from this point of view: that is something that clergy are free to do. An issue could only arise as a result of the way in which that disagreement had been expressed.

21. Particular care would be needed in handling any considerations relating to the Anglican Communion. An adverse reaction in the Anglican Communion to the candidate’s appointment on account of his or her previous public statements could in principle be a relevant consideration in so far as it touched on the candidate’s ability to be a focus of unity in the Church of England– e.g. because it could fuel controversy within the Church of England of such a kind as to make it more difficult for the candidate to act as an effective focus of unity.

22. However, in practice considerable care needs to be taken in evaluating considerations relating to the Anglican Communion, where concerns about the candidate’s appointment may well be based at least as much on his or her sexuality or civil partner status as on the nature of his or her previous public statements.

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Anglican Catholic Future: Statement on the Seal of Confession

Anglican Catholic Future has published this Statement on the Seal of Confession.

Anglican Catholic Future responds to the current consultation on the seal of confidentiality associated with the ministry of confession and absolution out of a confidence in the abiding worth of that practice, and of its absolute confidentiality. This ministry has a distinctive part to play for many in fashioning a life of continued conversion to Christ. We hope that the attention now being paid to it by the working group, and by the General Synod, will lead to a renewed appreciation of the part that it occupies in the mission of the church, and the spiritual life of its members, and could occupy even more fully. We hope that every diocese will provide instruction for existing priests in this manifestation of the love of God, and that every training institution will provide instruction for those in preparation for priestly ministry.

The full text of the statement is available on the ACF website in PDF format here.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Employment Tribunal rules against Jeremy Pemberton

Updated yet again Thursday teatime

The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham has issued this press release

Employment tribunal finds in favour of Bishop

The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.

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

“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”

The Claimant’s lawyers have issued this statement:

“We are obviously very disappointed by the Employment Tribunal’s decision; our lawyers have considered the judgment and are in the process of preparing the Grounds of Appeal for submission to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. We would like to thank all of those who have supported us through this litigation process thus far.”

The full text of the judgment can be downloaded from here.

Updates

LGCM has issued this response: Justice for Jeremy – we fight on.

Peter Tatchell has issued this response: Tribunal rules Church can dictate who NHS employs.

Four Three blog articles in response:

Initial press coverage of this case:

Pink News Gay chaplain loses employment tribunal after being sacked by Church for marrying

Premier Radio Canon Jeremy Pemberton loses tribunal claim the Church discriminated against him for being in gay marriage

Newark Advertiser Jeremy Pemberton loses discrimination case

Nottingham Post Gay priest not discriminated against, employment tribunal rules

Guardian Gay hospital chaplain loses discrimination case against CofE

BBC Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against

ITV Gay clergyman loses discrimination claim at employment tribunal

Church Times (article revised) First gay marriage priest Jeremy Pemberton loses employment tribunal

Telegraph Hospital chaplain loses gay marriage tribunal against Church of England

Christian Today Gay priest who married partner loses employment discrimination claim

Lincolnshire Echo Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against

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Saturday, 31 October 2015

European church leaders consult on refugee crisis

The World Council of Churches recently held a consultation on the refugee crisis in Europe. This press release was issued before the meeting: Refugee crisis to be discussed in Munich by 35 bishops and other church leaders from 20 countries

The international refugee crisis will be the focus of a consultation of 35 bishops and church leaders from 20 countries, to be held on 29 October in Munich, Germany. There will be representatives from churches in the most affected regions and from most of the church families in Europe: Orthodox, Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Methodist and representatives from the Middle East and Africa, as well as representatives from ecumenical organizations and from church-based humanitarian and refugee organizations.

They have been invited by the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, and the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who is also chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)…

Afterwards, ACNS reported: Church leaders urge “safe passage” to those seeking refuge

The suffragan bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr David Hamid, has joined other bishops and church leaders from a number of denominations in calling for safe passage to those seeking refuge.

The recommendation is one of a number contained in a communiqué issued following a church leaders’ consultation in the German city of Munich…

The full text of the communiqué can be found on the World Council of Churches website.

Also, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has published a roundup of actions being taken by churches and Christian aid agencies: Churches respond to the refugee crisis.

And here’s a report on one specific activity: Anglicans to support reception centre for refugees at remote lighthouse on Lesvos.

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Friday, 30 October 2015

November General Synod - online papers

Updated 10 November to include second circulation papers (GS 2009 and GS Misc 1128)

Papers in the first circulation both circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 24-25 November are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of all second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 2005 - Agenda

GS 2006 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 2007 - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 [Wednesday]
GS 2007x - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2008 - Report of the Church Buildings Review Group [Wednesday]

GS 2009 - The Migrant Crisis [Wednesday]
The motion to be debated on this subject is contained in notice paper 4.

GS 2010 - Standing Orders (October 2015)

GS Misc 1123 - Constitutions of the Committees of the Archbishops’ Council

GS Misc 1124 - A programme for the renewal and reform of the Church of England [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1125 - A New Enabling Measure

GS Misc 1126 - Public Peceptiions of Jesus [Wednesday]
Annex: Talking Jesus Booklet

GS Misc 1127 - Released for Mission

GS Misc 1128 - Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure

Members’ Resources

Although intended for Synod members, some of these Members’ Resources may be of wider interest - in particular the Guide to the General Synod and the Synod Survival Guide.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 30 October 2015 at 11:51am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s two day inaugural meeting of the tenth General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
30 October 2015

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod

Synod to debate Migrant Crisis and Church Buildings report and review progress of the Reform and Renewal programme

Her Majesty the Queen will inaugurate the tenth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 24th November.

The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap (Preacher to the Papal Household) will preach.

The Agenda for the short meeting of the Synod, which will follow the inauguration, is published today along with the papers.

Synod membership

The Synod has 468 voting members of whom 59 (including the 42 diocesan bishops) are ex officio and 409 have been elected this autumn (9 suffragan bishops, 200 clergy, 200 laity). The House of Bishops has 53 members, the House of Clergy 202 and the House of Laity 213.

53% of the 409 elected members were not members of the last Synod when it was dissolved in July (up from the 2010 figure of 45%). In total 46% of the membership of this Synod is new. The percentage of women on General Synod has increased from 28% in 2005 to 32% in 2010 and 37% in 2015.

The male/female balance has changed from 69/31 in 2005 to 63/37 in 2010 to 58/42 now. For the first time there are slightly more elected women than men in the House of Laity — 50.5% to 49.5% (in 2005 40% of elected laity were women and in 2010 46%). In the House of Clergy, the number of women elected has increased to 32% (from 22% in 2005 and 29% in 2010). Three of the 53 members of the House of Bishops are women: the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, the Rt Revd Libby Lane and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.

The average age of the 378 lay and clergy members elected by the dioceses is slightly lower than in 2010, 51 as against 52 among the clergy and 56 as against 58 among the laity. The youngest member of the Synod is Rhian Ainscough, newly elected from the Leicester diocese, who is 19. The longest serving member is David Ashton from Leeds diocese, who has served continuously since 1972.

Tuesday 24 November

Following the service in Westminster Abbey the Queen will address the Synod in Church House. Synod business begins on the Tuesday afternoon. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury. After further formal business, there will be a presentation from the leaders of the Archbishops’ Reform and Renewal Programme.

The presentation will cover the work-streams on Resourcing the Future, Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Simplification of church legislation and a newly-launched work stream on Lay leadership. Synod members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the work stream leaders. There will also be the usual Synod question time.

Wednesday 25 November

On the morning of 25 November, there will be a short presentation from the Archbishop of York on the effects of global warming which he viewed on his recent visit to the South Pacific. Following that the Synod will debate a motion moved by the bishop of Durham on the Migrant Crisis. The wording of the Motion and the accompanying background paper will be published nearer to the debate given the rapidly-evolving context. However, it is likely to focus on the responses of the church in parishes and dioceses and to call on the Synod to continue working closely with the government and local authorities to maximise support for those most in need.

After some legislative business, there will be a presentation of the results of recent research on the “Public Perceptions of Jesus”, which was commissioned by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and HOPE (an ecumenical organisation that brings churches together in mission). The report is an important resource for evidence-based mission.

On Wednesday afternoon the Synod will debate a motion, moved by the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, welcoming the recently published report of the Church Buildings Review, commending it to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and paving the way for the necessary legislative process, once the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have taken decisions following the current consultation period. The report was produced as one of the elements of the Reform and Renewal programme.

The Synod will conclude with a farewell from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Secretary General, Mr William Fittall who will be retiring at the end of November after 13 years in post. Mr Fittall will also give a farewell address to the Synod.

Immediately after the end of the Synod the House of Laity will hold a hustings meeting for the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair. The results of those elections and of the elections for the Prolocutors (Chairs of clergy) for the Canterbury and York Provinces will be known just before Christmas.

Ends

[1] This includes a small number of members who were not in the last Synod but have served previously.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Tax credits and the bishops

Several bishops were involved in the debate on tax credits which took place in the House of Lords on Monday evening. A very helpful summary is available here. Another report is over here.

One of the four motions that were under consideration was submitted by the Bishop of Portsmouth, but in the even this motion was not voted upon. Its wording was:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth to move, as an amendment to the motion in the name of the Lord Privy Seal, at the end to insert “but this House regrets that the draft Regulations fail to take account of concerns about their short-term impact on working families and individuals currently receiving tax credits, and calls on the Government to consult further on the draft Regulations and revisit their impact.”

There were three bishops who spoke:

The voting record of the bishops was as follows (h/t Law and Religion UK):

  • Division 1: The amendment to the motion declining to approve the Regulations was rejected: 99 for and 310 against [Bishop of Chester, Not Content; Archbishop of York, Not Content].
  • Division 2: The amendment to the motion seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until a report has been produced addressing the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis of the Regulations and their impact was agreed: 307 for and 277 against [Bishops of Chester and Portsmouth, Content; Archbishop of York, Content].
  • Division 3: Their Lordships agreed, by 289 for and 272 against, an amendment seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until consultation and a report to Parliament on the provision of full transactional protection for a minimum of three years for all low-income families and individuals currently receiving tax credits before 5 April 2016 has been completed, such transitional protection to be renewable after three years with parliamentary approval [Archbishop of York, Content; Bishop of Chester, Not Content].
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Forward in Faith defends the Seal of the Confessional

Forward in Faith has submitted a response to the Working Group on the Seal of the Confessional established by the Archbishops’ Council.

For the background on this see this TA article from October last year and the articles from Law & Religion UK linked there.

The members of the working group are listed in this document.

The press release from Forward in Faith is available here and is copied below the fold.

The full text of the response is also linked from this page, and can be read in this PDF file.

Forward in Faith has published its submission to the Working Party on the Seal of the Confessional, which is charged with assisting the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops in considering whether to recommend amendment of the Canon that says that priests should not reveal what has been disclosed in Confession by a penitent.

Forward in Faith’s submission points out that the sacraments belong to the whole Church, of which the Church of England is only part, and that the General Synod therefore does not have the authority to alter them. The obligation of non-disclosure is part of the nature of the Sacrament: it was not created by the Canon. Amending or repealing the Canon would therefore not remove it. We are confident that priests will continue to regard themselves as bound by the Seal of the Confessional, even if this canonical provision is amended or repealed.

We question whether, in any case, the necessity for such a change has been or can be made out.

Such a change would be undesirable and counterproductive. It would discourage people who have committed criminal offences from making their confession, reducing the likelihood of a priest being in a position to counsel them to report themselves to the Police. The time and energy expended in promoting such a controversial piece of legislation could be deployed more profitably in other ways.

Forward in Faith is concerned that many priests receive little or no training for the important ministry of reconciliation, which both the 1662 and Common Worship Ordinals identify as a fundamental aspect of priestly ministry. Such training should emphasize that, where a serious crime is confessed, absolution should be withheld until the penitent has reported him- or herself to the Police.

Forward in Faith understands the defence of the sacraments as part of its purpose, and we shall resist as strongly as we can any attack on the integrity of sacramental Confession.

The submission may be read here.

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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Statement on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)

The Church of England issued the following statement today.

Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)
22 October 2015

The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.

The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.

Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”

Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”

The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.

In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”

In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.

The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.

The copy of the statement on the Diocese of Chichester’s website is preceded by this statement by the Bishop of Chichester.

The statement to follow communicates news that has brought us a bewildering mix of deep and disturbing emotions. In touching the legacy and reputation of George Bell, it yields a bitter fruit of great sadness and a sense that we are all diminished by what we are being told.

Our starting point is response to the survivor. We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties. We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.

The revelation of abuse demands bravery on the part of a survivor, and we respect the courage needed to tell the truth. We also recognise that telling the truth provides a legitimate opportunity for others to come forward, sometimes to identify the same source of abuse.

We also believe that in the Church of England as a whole, and certainly in the diocese of Chichester, we have done all we can to ensure that our safeguarding policies reflect best practice, and are fully and evenly implemented. The statement below speaks of an earlier report of this case, in the 1990’s. There will no doubt be some who allege a cover-up by the Church. We acknowledge that the response then would not be adequate by today’s standards, although that falls far short of a cover-up. In the present context, the diocese of Chichester has worked with Police and other agencies to ensure that we have sought the fullest understanding possible of what happened.

Please hold in your prayers all victims of abuse, especially those who have never been able to seek or receive help and a proper response. Please pray for all who are affected by this news, especially those who are our ecumenical partners, those unable to comprehend its implications, and those whose faith is damaged by it. Please pray for the diocese of Chichester, for each other, lay and ordained, as we seek to remain faithful to our apostolic mission in spite of much that could discourage and deter us.

+Martin

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 22 October 2015 at 11:37am BST | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

At risk church buildings

Historic England published its annual Heritage at Risk Register yesterday. Many entries are places of worship. This comes just a week after the Church of England launched its report on how it manages its 16,000 church buildings as part of its Reform and Renewal programme.

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK More “At Risk” CofE Buildings in 2015

Anglican Communion News Service More C of E church buildings placed on “at risk” register

Maev Kennedy The Guardian Bomb factory and concrete church among historic buildings at risk

Hannah Furness The Telegraph A Napoleonic lookout and an ammunition factory: the ’ heritage at risk register’ 2015

David Pocklington’s article has drawn my attention to Monday’s official announcement that from January 2016 Mike Eastwood (Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of Liverpool and Chief Officer, Liverpool Cathedral) will be starting a two-days-a-week secondment with the National Church Institutions as the Director of Reform and Renewal.

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CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis - update

Updated

We reported on the release of the bishops’ letter here. In the days that followed there was a lot of press reports and reactions, listed in daily groups below with the earliest first.

Harriet Sherwood and Toby Helm The Observer Bishops in stinging rebuke to David Cameron over refugee crisis
Harriet Sherwood The Observer How the Church of England and the British government fell out over the ‘moral crisis’ of refugees
BBC News Syria refugees: Bishops urge David Cameron to do more
Nicola Harley The Telegraph Bishops row with David Cameron over offer of help to refugees

The Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester The Guardian Bishop says European migrant crisis ‘a moral matter’ not political – video
Laura Hughes The Telegraph Conservatives criticise bishops for attack on Syrian refugee policy
Charlie Cooper The Independent Refugee crisis: Church of England attacks Government’s ‘inadequate’ response
Rowena Mason The Guardian Bishops naturally leftwing, suggests minister after plea to take more refugees
Melanie McDonagh The Spectator Cameron should listen to Syrian bishops, not the Anglican ones

Steven Swinford The Telegraph Each Syrian refugee to cost Britain £24,000 a year
Nicholas Watt The Guardian David Cameron rebukes Church of England bishops over refugee letter
BBC News UK aims to take in 1,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas, says PM
Jules Middleton That Bishop’s Letter

Update

Nick Baines Yorkshire Post To portray bishops as anti-Conservative over refugees is ‘wrong, lazy and ridiculous’
[also online here]
Paul Handley Church Times Frustrated bishops call for 30,000 more refugees to be accepted in the UK

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Saturday, 17 October 2015

CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis

This press release has just been issued: Bishops call on Prime Minister to provide “meaningful and substantial response” to refugee crisis

17 October 2015
The Church of England today has published a letter sent to the Prime Minister in early September signed by 84 of its bishops calling for the Government to increase the number of Syrian refugees being resettled to this country “to a minimum of 50,000” over the next five years.

Referring to the situation in Syria as “one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded” the Bishops write that “a moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.”

Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:

“We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.”

In addition to “recognising and applauding” the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.

In their letter the Bishops also called for the creation of a National Welcome and Resettlement Board, mirroring the successful work of such boards created by Government in response to past refugee crises in the 1950s and 1970s. Since the writing of the letter the board has been created with the Bishop of Durham serving as co-chair of the board.

Speaking on behalf of the bishops, the Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:

“The Archbishop of York recently said that the current situation has rightly been described as a refugee crisis but it is also a time of opportunity for us as a country and for our wider continent. The opportunity before us is to rise above narrow self-interest, however defined, and to embrace the highest parts of our humanity.

We recognise that both the Prime Minister and His Government responded to calls from the country for there to be a programme of resettlement and we are grateful to him for responding to those calls. However there is a real urgency to this issue with those increasingly being forced from their land as their homes are literally bombed into the ground. As the fighting intensifies, as the sheer scale of human misery becomes greater, the Government’s response seems increasingly inadequate to meet the scale and severity of the problem. It is disheartening that we have not received any substantive reply despite an assurance from the Prime Minister that one would be received. There is an urgent and compelling moral duty to act which we as bishops are offering to facilitate alongside others from across civil society.”

ENDS

The full text of the letter follows.

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
10 September 2015

Dear Prime Minister,
Like you, your Government, and the people of our nation we are deeply concerned for the refugee crisis that we have to face together. We are grateful to you and your ministers for the conversations they have already held with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others around these issues.

We pray for the millions of people fleeing war and violence in one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded, and we remember those who have tragically died seeking sanctuary on European shores: those like Alan Kurdi, the three year old boy who heartbreakingly died and was washed up on a beach in Turkey.

It is a command in Judaism , “to welcome and love the stranger as you would yourself because you were strangers in the land of Egypt”. Followers of Islam are obliged to provide food, shelter and safety to the traveller. Christ himself and his family were refugees. We are reminded that in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral there is a 17th century notice which pays tribute to “the large and liberal spirit of the English church and the glorious asylum which England has in all times given to foreigners flying for refuge against oppression and tyranny.”

Such traditions and prayers must be joined with action. A moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.

We recognise and applaud the leadership you and your government are showing in this crisis, both as one of the world’s top international donors and the recent announcement that the government will resettle 20,000 people over the next five years.

We stand ready to play our part as well. We will:
1. Encourage our church members to work alongside the wider community in offering welcome, orientation, integration, sign-posting and support to all refugees who come
2. Encourage, where possible and feasible, churches, congregations and individuals to make rental properties and spare housing available for use by resettled refugees.
3. Promote and support foster caring among churches, congregations and individuals where appropriate to help find the homes needed to care for the increasing number of unaccompanied minors
4. Pray for, act with and stand alongside your government, to rise to the challenge that this crisis poses to our shared humanity

From what we see in congregations across the United Kingdom we are confident that the country stands ready and willing to support the government to be even more ambitious as it responds to this historic crisis.

We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.

We believe that should a National Welcome and Resettlement Board be established in response to the crisis drawing together civic, corporate and government leadership to coordinate efforts and mobilise the nation as in times past, such an effort would not be beyond the British people. A senior Bishop would gladly serve on such a board on our behalf and at your pleasure.

This letter is written to you privately at present. The College of Bishops meets in Oxford next week and will spend some time on Thursday 17th considering our practical response. If you were able to respond to me ahead of that date it would help our discussions.
Faithfully,

for full list of signatories, go here, and scroll down

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Friday, 16 October 2015

General Synod election results update

Update - northern deans now listed

My list of those elected to the 2015-2020 General Synod is now almost complete. The only gaps are the two Northern Deans and the lay member from the Deanery of Jersey. The clergy member from the Channel Islands will be Tim Barker, the Dean designate of Guernsey. But I understand that he will not be able to take up his place until he is commissioned on 28 November, which is after the inaugural group of sessions.

There are two vacancies from the Religious Communities because not enough people were nominated to fill all four places. By-elections will be held in due course.

My thanks go to all those who responded to my appeal to send me results.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 16 October 2015 at 3:32pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

How to manage CofE church buildings

Updated Friday and Saturday

The Church of England yesterday launched a new report of how it manages its 16,000 church buildings. There was this accompanying press release.

Launch of major new report on how the Church of England manages its 16,000 church buildings
13 October 2015

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Welcoming the opening of the consultation, Bishop John said:

“Our 16,000 church buildings are a visible sign of ongoing Christian faith in communities throughout England as well as being an unparalleled part of our country’s heritage. This report looks at how we can best support the thousands of local volunteers who care deeply for and about churches and offer wonderful service to their communities using their churches.

“We believe that - apart from growing the church - there is no single solution to the challenges posed by our extensive responsibility for part of the nation’s heritage. We hope therefore that this work will be a catalyst for discussion about how churches can be better cared for and used for the common good.”

A copy of the six principles recommended by the group and the recommendations are available below. [Ed: These are below the fold.] The consultation period runs until Friday 29 January and will include a debate at the first meeting of the new General Synod in November.

Notes:

The report is available at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2383717/church_buildings_review_report_2015.pdf.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England considers Christmas-only parishes

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Some churches will only open for Christmas – CofE report

David Keen blogs: When Should My Parish Church Be Demolished?

Updates

Giles Fraser The Guardian We must do to our churches what Beeching did to the railways
And in response Letters to the Church Magazine has this Mid-October Special.

Tim Wyatt Church Times Review calls for more state funds for Church buildings

Sir Tony Baldry (chair, Church Buildings Council) Ensuring that church buildings are a blessing and not a burden

Tiffer Robinson Giles Fraser has missed the point: rural churches need to be valued, not exterminated

Ian Paul Talking (non)sense about rural mission

Principles

For so long as a building has a contribution to make to the mission of the Church of England and remains open for worship, the legal responsibility for it should normally remain at parish level, and where that is not possible, at diocesan level. Local ownership- in every sense of the word- is generally to be preferred to other alternatives, not least because it will continue to facilitate wider community support for what is often the most significant historical building in the locality.

What is understood by ‘open for worship’ has evolved over time depending on local contexts and will need to evolve further for some buildings over the coming years. Legislation needs to facilitate this.

More generally, the overall legislative framework governing the use and management of church buildings needs to be simpler, less prescriptive and less burdensome for laity and clergy. There needs to be more flexibility to reflect the wide diversity of local situations.

Dioceses need to integrate thinking about their church buildings with their mission and ministry planning. Regular diocesan strategic reviews, taking account of diocesan and deanery plans, mission action plans and parish audits are important for ensuring that buildings issues are given their proper weight- neither dominating nor being overlooked or regarded as a specialist subject.

Over the centuries it has never been either possible or desirable to retain all church buildings. There have always been and will continue to be circumstances where closure is the right option. In those cases the process needs to be managed sensitively but efficiently, with more focused effort than now on seeking alternative uses.

The work undertaken nationally to support parishes and dioceses in their stewardship of buildings needs to be reshaped at member and staff level to provide a sharper focus, pool expertise and facilitate greater strategic thinking.

Recommendations

1. Church and Government representatives should explore ways in which more assured financial support for listed cathedrals and church buildings can be provided for in the long term. (Paragraphs 46-48 and 125-128).

2. In order to facilitate new, creative models of managing and caring for buildings and free up clergy and laity for mission and ministry the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 should be amended to enable a PCC - with diocesan consent - to formally transfer its care and maintenance liability to another body. (Paragraphs 129-136).

3. Guidance on legal models relating to the use of open church buildings should be more widely disseminated in order to promote good practice in enabling such wider use. (Paragraph 137-140 and Appendix 3).

4. The next phase of the Simplification Agenda, in looking to reduce ‘red tape’ affecting parish and benefice structure and organisation, should, as proposed, review governance requirements with a view to relieving pressures on clergy and laity and freeing up energy and resources for mission. (Paragraphs 141-146).

5. The Simplification Group’s recommendation to amend Canon B 14A to facilitate ‘Festival Churches’, while proposing further work on their role and how mission and evangelism are developed in the surrounding communities, should be implemented. Additionally, the Church Buildings Council should work with dioceses pioneering this concept to identify and promote good practice in caring for such buildings. A grouping such as an Association of Festival Churches may also offer a beneficial means of supporting such initiatives. (Paragraphs 147-152).

6. Regular diocesan church building reviews or audits should be incorporated into each diocese’s vision and strategy, as well as forming an integral part of deanery Mission Action Planning. Dioceses need to see the strategic importance of investment to address buildings issues, drawing in as much outside help as can be secured. (Paragraphs 153-156).

7. While closed church buildings should continue to vest in Diocesan Boards of Finance until their future is settled, any Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee should be able to transfer all of their use-seeking functions for closed churches to the Church Commissioners, with the latter’s consent. (Paragraphs 157-171).

8. Staff in Church House involved in all aspects of church buildings including cathedrals and chancels should be brought together to form a single staff team, with the relevant staff (excluding those working regionally) based in one location within Church House. (Paragraphs 172-188).

9. A new statutory Commission (perhaps entitled the Church Buildings Commission for England) should be established to take an oversight of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and enable a more strategic view to be taken of priorities and resource allocation. This would replace the present Church Buildings Council including its Statutory Advisory Committee, and the Church Commissioners’ Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee. While no changes in the responsibilities of the Church Commissioners in relation to church buildings issues are proposed, the new body, for some purposes, would act as a committee of the Commissioners. (Paragraphs 183-203).

10. The current powers and responsibilities of the Churches Conservation Trust work well and should not be changed. (Paragraphs 204-207).

The consultation period is now open and will close on the Friday 29th January 2016 at 5pm. Comments should be sent to andrea.mulkeen@churchofengland.org.

The church buildings review was set up jointly by the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners and carried out as part of the Optimizing the role of the NCIs, which made recommendations about the ways in which the National Church Institutions (NCIs) can be more effective.

The Church Buildings Review Group was made up of the following members:

The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester (lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings) (Chair)
The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry (Church Buildings Council Chair; former Second Church Estates Commissioner)
James Halsall (DAC Secretary for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
The Ven Christine Hardman (former Archbishops’ Council member and Bishop-designate of Newcastle)
Andrew Mackie (Third Church Estates Commissioner; Chair of Pastoral and Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committees)
Jennie Page CBE (Vice Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission)
Ian Watmore (Church Commissioner and member of the Church Buildings (Uses and Disposals) Committee).

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Saturday, 10 October 2015

General Synod election results

The votes in the elections to the Church of England General Synod will be counted during this coming week. I will publish the names of the successful candidates here: General Synod List of members.

Please help me do this by sending election results to gs2015@peterowen.org.uk. I will only publish the names of successful candidates, so I do not need the details of the count (although you are welcome to send these to me as well).

New this time is the requirement for dioceses to post the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) on the diocesan website. They must remain there until the end of the first group of sessions of the new Synod, ie 4.30 pm on 25 November 2015. Results for other constituencies must be similarly posted on the Church of England website. However there does not appear to be any particular date by which these results must be posted. But when they do appear I will add links to this page: Synod election 2015.

There are official lists of successful candidates here.

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Peter Ball sentenced

Updated Thursday

Our previous article on Peter Ball is here, with links to earlier articles.

Peter Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison this morning.

[Update: the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Wilkie can be read here.]

The Church of England issued this statement.

Statement on the sentencing of Peter Ball
07 October 2015

“It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England has today been sentenced for a series of offences over 15 years against 18 young men known to him. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.

We apologise unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward and also the long wait for justice that they have endured. We note that there are those whose cases remain on file for whom today will be a difficult day, not least in the light of the courage and persistence that they have demonstrated in pressing for the truth to be revealed. We also remember Neil Todd, whose bravery in 1992 enabled others to come forward but who took his own life before Peter Ball’s conviction or sentencing.

As the Police have noted Peter Ball systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom who were aspiring priests, whilst others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality. He also abused the trust placed in him by the Church and others, maintaining a campaign of innocence for decades until his final guilty plea only weeks ago. Since that plea was made processes in the Church have begun to initiate formal internal disciplinary procedures against Peter Ball.

Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between Lambeth Palace, the Diocese of Chichester and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing. We pay tribute to those detectives whose work on this case over the past three years has led to this conviction and sentencing.

Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea on 8th of September this year questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.

Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.

The Church of England always takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. To this end we have robust procedures and policies in place. But we can never be complacent. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward with confidence that safeguarding procedures will be followed.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.”

Paul Butler, lead Bishop on safeguarding for the Church of England

You can listen to Bishop Paul Butler responding to the Peter Ball case by following this link.

Press reports

Nicola Harley The Telegraph Peter Ball: Ex-bishop jailed for 32 months for exploiting young priests for sex

Sandra Laville The Guardian Bishop escaped abuse charges after MPs and a royal intervened, court told

Press Association in The Guardian Sexual abuse victims of Peter Ball sue Church of England

Update

Tim Wyatt Church Times Prison for Bishop Peter Ball, but victims still seek justice

Comments are closed for this article.

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Monday, 5 October 2015

Independent review of Peter Ball case announced

We reported on the Peter Ball case on 8 September: Peter Ball pleads guilty.

Since we published that article, this appeared on 13 September: Bishop Ball sex charges caution ‘wrong’ admits CPS.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to that case.

Press Release text is here.

Archbishop Commissions Independent Review of Peter Ball Case
05 October 2015
For Immediate Release

Archbishop Commissions Review of Peter Ball Case

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester.

During a hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 8th of this year Bishop Peter Ball pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office following the work of Sussex police as part of Operation Dunhill.

Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between the Church and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing.

Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.

Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.

Comments are closed for this article.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

New Fire in London

Bishop of London delivers Lambeth Lecture on church growth in the capital

Church must be “vision-led not problem-led”, says Bishop Richard Chartres in the third of the Lambeth Lectures series.

Also available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 October 2015 at 6:38pm BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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"Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops"

Updated

The sermon preached by the Bishop of Chelmsford at the consecration of three new suffragan bishops in St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 September has received some attention in the media. The official press release about it is here.

Ruth Gledhill has written a news article about it in Christianity Today which is titled ‘Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops’: A call for authentic church leadership.

The Archbishop Cranmer blog has BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD REPUDIATES EPISCOPAL “TALENT POOL

The full text is available here.

The key passage reads:

So – a new line for the litany - Good Lord deliver us from successful bishops, from too well prepared or even too well organised bishops, from ready answer in the back pocket and PowerPoint strategy self-sufficient, all efficient bishops. Take us to those high places, places of perspective and reality, where we and all our schemes are set on fire, which, paradoxically for us, are also those places where life is raw, and pain and darkness requisite. Take us to the heights of prayer, to the depths of the scriptures, to the bottom step before the altar, to a places of silent waiting where, with mitres off and staffs laid down, we will be replenished and know our need of God, and there be renewed and strengthened for the things that lie ahead as bishops of God’s church – messengers, sentinels and pastors.

Update
The Bishop of Chelmsford has published this letter, responding to some of the comments made about his sermon.

My sermon at the recent consecration of three new bishops at St Paul’s Cathedral has caused a bit of a stir.
Some have said that it was a riposte or rebuke to certain initiatives taking place in the Church of England around leadership development. This was never meant to be the case.
The intention of the sermon was to reconfirm the perspective of all our initiatives and all our plans and remind us of the calling of the bishop as messenger, sentinel and pastor, and at the same time enable us to smile at ourselves…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 1 October 2015 at 7:19am BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bishop of Maidstone

The new Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, now has a website, with quite a lot of information about his role.

Here it is: http://www.bishopofmaidstone.org/

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 at 4:30pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SSWSH: A Catholic Life in the Church of England

Earlier this month, The Council of Bishops of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda (SSWSH) published a statement Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England: A Statement of Principles.

Today the Council has published the promised second statement A Catholic Life in the Church of England: A Statement of Policy and Pastoral Guidance.

You can download the full text of the new statement here.

In the Society’s own words:

This statement by the Council of Bishops of The Society, issued in September 2015:

  • considers the relationship of parishes to the bishops of The Society and, through them, to its other parishes;
  • explains the criteria that the bishops follow in deciding whether to commend the ministry of bishops and priests, for the purpose of sacramental assurance;
  • explains the rationale for registering Priests, Deacons and Ordinands of The Society;
    sets out the bishops’ policy with regard to ordination;
  • considers what living in the highest degree of communion that principle and conscience will allow should mean in practice;
  • offers pastoral guidance on receiving Holy Communion and on concelebration.

The bishops call for openness to the Spirit, and for decisions to be taken ‘according to conscience and principle, and remembering the primacy of charity in the Church’.

There is also a leaflet titled Communion and Full Communion, based upon both statements, and available here.

The main press release about this is over here. The full text is copied below the fold.

The Council of Bishops of The Society today calls on catholic Anglicans to increase their participation in the life of their diocese and the wider Church of England. They comment, “Such participation… will be an expression of the love (charity) that is an essential characteristic of the communion that flows from our common baptism.”

In their statement of policy and pastoral guidance, entitled “A Catholic Life in the Church of England”, they also indicate how the principles set out in their earlier statement “Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England” need to be applied in practice. They show how The Society offers sacramental assurance.

The bishops once again reject any so-called “theology of taint” (whereby a bishop who ordains women as bishops or priests thereby invalidates his own orders and the orders of those whom he subsequently ordains). They explain and endorse the aspiration of ordinands to be ordained by a bishop with whom they are in full communion (because they are able to receive the ministry of all whom that bishop ordains).

The bishops affirm that holy communion is normally received within a context of full communion, but recognize that there can be occasions when it is appropriate (though none should be compelled) for the clergy and people who look to them to receive communion from validly ordained bishops and priests who do not belong to The Society.

The Chairman of the Council of Bishops, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), said, “These statements are the fruit of prayerful reflection and of consultation with our clergy and people. We offer them to those who look to us for teaching and pastoral guidance, and also to all with whom we share the life of the Church of England. We hope that they will be studied carefully and prayerfully, and that any responses to them will reflect the spirit in which they are offered.”

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Friday, 25 September 2015

November General Synod - timetable

The timetable for the November meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available for download, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD NOVEMBER 2015 TIMETABLE

Monday 23 November
Induction of new and returning members

Tuesday 24 November
am Inauguration of the Synod

2.45 pm – 7.15 pm

2.45 pm Prayers, welcomes
Presidential Address: Archbishop of Canterbury
Business Committee Report
Introduction to Synod Worship by the Chaplain to the General Synod
Reform and Renewal Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session

*5.40 pm Questions

Wednesday 25 November

9.30 am – 1pm

9.30 am Morning Worship
Loyal Address
Presentation by the Archbishop of York on Global Warming
Debate on a motion moved by a member of the House of Bishops on the Migrant Crisis

Legislative Business
*11.30 am Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order

Presentation from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on research on “Public Perceptions of Jesus”

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

2.30 pm Debate on a Report from Church Buildings Review Group

*4.00 pm Farewell

4.30 pm Prorogation

4.45 pm (or 15 minutes after the prorogation if business is completed earlier):
Meeting of the House of Laity

*=not later than

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 September 2015 at 4:37pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 September 2015

General Synod - diocesan candidates

Updated Friday

All the lists of candidates for General Synod for the diocesan constituencies, and their election addresses, are now available. There are links to all of them on my website.

Ian Paul has taken a look at the gender balance (or lack of it) of the candidates: Synod, representation and gender.

Update

Tim Wyatt and Hattie Williams have also been looking at this for Church Times: Male candidates outnumber female in Synod elections.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 10:09am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Christine Hardman's election as Bishop of Newcastle confirmed

Christine Hardman’s election as the next Bishop of Newcastle was confirmed last night (22 September) at a service in York Minster. She will be consecrated in York Minster on 30 November.

Confirmation of Election Service for the 12th Bishop of Newcastle

Christine now moves to the top of the list of diocesan bishops waiting for a place in the House of Lords. She will take the place of the next Lord Spiritual to retire, but will not have long to wait as the Bishop of Lichfield retires next week. A date for Christine’s introduction to the Lords has yet to be announced.

Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, will be introduced into the House of Lords on Monday 26 October at 2.30pm. David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK notes that the Parliamentary web site refers to her as the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, rather than the Lady Bishop [emphasis added].

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 9:49am BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Petition calls for Bishop of Sodor and Man to resign

An online petition was launched on 7 September calling on the Bishop of Sodor and Man to resign: Bishop Stop the Bullying!. The petition is now closed with 194 signatures.

The Manx media picked up the story earlier this week.

John Turner Isle of Man Today Online petition calls for Isle of Man’s Bishop and Archdeacon to resign

Manx Radio Petition calls for bishop’s resignation

It is also reported that the bishop had a heart attack on Monday, although he appears to be well on the way to recovery.

Adrian Darbyshire Isle of Man Today Bishop recovering from heart attack

Isle of Man Today Bishop speaks to iomtoday about heart attack ordeal

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 September 2015 at 3:57pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Monday, 14 September 2015

General Synod elections 2015 - candidates' election addresses

The nomination period for this year’s elections to General Synod has closed. Dioceses are now required to post candidates’ election addresses on their websites before sending out voting papers. Some of these have already appeared, and the remainder should be available by the end of the week. I am compiling a list of links to all the addresses, which you can find here. I will update this during the coming week. So far as I am aware there is no similar requirement for the special constituencies.

I am also compiling a list of the members of the new synod here. Apart from ex officio members a few people have already been elected unopposed.

Additions and corrections to either list can be emailed to me here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 14 September 2015 at 8:58pm BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 10 September 2015

SSWSH statement on Communion and Catholicity

The Council of Bishops of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda (SSWSH) has published a document entitled ‘Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England: A Statement of Principles’.

It appears in the September issue of New Directions and is also available on the Society website here.

According to the SSWSH website:

The statement explains

  • the nature of communion;
  • The Society’s aspiration to be an expression of full, visible communion;
  • the communion that the parishes and people of The Society continue to share with other members of the Church of England.

It reflects on the vocation of catholic Christians in the Church of England.

The Chairman of the Council of Bishops, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), has commented:

“This teaching document is our contribution to shaping understanding and custom that will engender greater trust in our position. We believe, humbly and with hope and trust for the future, that the tradition of Anglican identity exemplified by The Society has a distinctive contribution to make to our common life in the Church of England and to its mission.”

This statement will be accompanied by a second statement focusing on the practical application of these principles, which will be published in the October issue of New Directions.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 9:10am BST | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Bishop Peter Ball pleads guilty

The Church of England issued this press release today.

Statement on conviction of Bishop Peter Ball
08 September 2015
Statement from the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, lead bishop on safeguarding

“Following a hearing at the Central Criminal Court today Bishop Peter Ball has pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office.

We offer an unreserved apology to all the survivors and those affected by this news. We commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.

We are aware that two individuals will not have the opportunity to have their case heard in criminal court following the plea agreement.

Peter Ball was charged with the offences following his arrest in November 2012 and as a Church we have provided full co-operation with the police throughout their investigation.

The Church of England always takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. To this end we have robust procedures and policies in place. But we can never be complacent. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.”

Notes
Sussex Police statement

Our earlier articles
Bishop Peter Ball to be prosecuted [March 2014]
Chichester sexual abuse: two arrests [November 2012]

Press reports

Sandra Laville The Guardian Former bishop admits sexually abusing young men
Peter Ball victims accuse C of E, police and CPS of sexual abuse cover-up

BBC News Former bishop Peter Ball admits sex offences

The Telegraph Ex-bishop admits sex abuse 20 years after victims complained

Comments are closed for this article.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 8 September 2015 at 6:03pm BST | TrackBack
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Next Bishop of Grantham announced

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Grantham: Nicholas Alan Chamberlain

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 8 September 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Reverend Nicholas Chamberlain to the Suffragan See of Grantham in the diocese of Lincoln.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Nicholas Alan Chamberlain MA PhD, Vicar of St George and St Hilda, Jesmond, in the diocese of Newcastle, to the Suffragan See of Grantham in the diocese of Lincoln in succession to the Right Reverend Timothy Ellis AKC PhD on his resignation on 26 September 2013.

Notes for editors

Dr Chamberlain was educated at St Chad’s College, Durham, and trained for the ministry at Edinburgh Theological College.

He served his title at St Mary’s, Cockerton, in the diocese of Durham from 1991 and was ordained priest in 1992. He went on to serve as curate at St Clare’s, Newton Aycliffe in 1994 before becoming Team Vicar there in 1995, continuing to serve in this role when it became the Great Aycliffe Team Ministry.

In 1998 he took up the post of Officer for Continuing Ministerial Education and Post Ordination Training in the Diocese of Durham as well as serving as Priest in Charge of St Barnabas, Burnmoor. He took up his current post of Vicar of St George and St Hilda, Newcastle upon Tyne, in the diocese of Newcastle in 2006.

His interests include music, reading, running and cycling.

The Lincoln diocesan website has New Bishop of Grantham Announced.

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Faith leaders unite to oppose Assisted Dying Bill

A letter signed by over 20 faith leaders has been published in the Observer newspaper today. See the press release copied here, and the full text of the letter is copied below the fold.

The newspaper also carries a lengthy article by Archbishop Justin Welby, Why I believe assisting people to die would dehumanise our society for ever.

The Observer’s front page news report of all this: Welby urges MPs: reject right-to-die bill that ‘crosses the Rubicon’ and the newspaper’s own editorial view (to support the bill) is here.

Faith leaders join to oppose Assisted Dying Bill
06 September 2015
Vulnerable people would be placed at risk should Parliament approve proposals to legalise assisted suicide, leaders of faith communities in Britain warn today in a letter to MPs.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis have joined more than 20 other faith leaders in signing a letter to MPs highlighting the dangers of the Assisted Dying no 2 Bill.

The Private Member’s Bill proposes legalising assisted suicide for terminally ill people with six months or less to live and will be debated on Friday September 11 in the House of Commons.

In their letter, the faith leaders warn that the Bill has the potential to affect the lives of a ‘great number” of people whose circumstances make them vulnerable in different ways.

“If passed, it will directly affect not only those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their lives, but also their families and friends and the health professionals who care for them,” they say in the letter.

“It also has the potential to have a significant impact on other vulnerable individuals: those who believe that they have become burdens to family and carers and feel under pressure within themselves to ‘do the decent thing’ and, tragically, those who might be pressured by others to seek a medically-assisted death.

“In the UK some 500,000 elderly people are abused each year, most by family members, often for financial reasons. Many of these would also be vulnerable to pressure to end their lives prematurely.”

For very many people, the natural processes of dying, along with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and hope - processes that ought not to be cut short, the faith leaders write.

The best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high quality palliative care and this is best pursued under current legislation.

“Sadly, there are still instances of painful or distressing death, though due to advances in palliative care, these are much less common than was once the case,” they say.

“For very many people, however, the natural processes of dying, allied with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and even hope; processes that ought not to be truncated. For many, a change in the law would result, not in greater comfort, but in an added burden to consider ending their lives prematurely; a burden they ought not to be asked to bear.

“We believe that the best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high-quality palliative care and that this is best pursued under current legislation. A law based on this Assisted Dying Bill would put at risk many more vulnerable people than it seeks to help.”

End

Here is the full text of the letter and list of signatories

Assisted Dying Bill, 11th September 2015

To all Members of Parliament,

As leaders of faith communities, we wish to express concern at the provisions of the Assisted Dying No. 2 Bill, currently in the House of Commons. In doing so, we are conscious that the bill touches deeply on some of the most difficult and testing circumstances that people may face.

While much could be said on the legal and ethical implications of the bill, our focus in writing is pastoral. In our communities and through healthcare chaplaincy we care daily for the elderly, the ill, the dying and their families; our concern is rooted in a profoundly human and profoundly sacred calling to care for the most vulnerable in our society, a concern shared by people of all faiths and of none.

The bill has the potential to affect the lives of a great number of people whose circumstances make them vulnerable in different ways. If passed, it will directly affect not only those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their lives, but also their families and friends and the health professionals who care for them. It also has the potential to have a significant impact on other vulnerable individuals: those who believe that they have become burdens to family and carers and feel under pressure within themselves to ‘do the decent thing’ and, tragically, those who might be pressured by others to seek a medically-assisted death. In the UK some 500,000 elderly people are abused each year, most by family members, often for financial reasons. Many of these would also be vulnerable to pressure to end their lives prematurely.

It may not be possible fully to meet the needs and aspirations of all those who in various ways are vulnerable, but we are convinced that the current law, alongside the published policy for prosecutors, provides much greater protection for the vulnerable than would legislation based on this bill.

Sadly, there are still instances of painful or distressing death, though due to advances in palliative care, these are much less common than was once the case. For very many people, however, the natural processes of dying, allied with good palliative care, enable them and their families to experience precious moments of love, care, reconciliation and even hope; processes that ought not to be truncated. For many, a change in the law would result, not in greater comfort, but in an added burden to consider ending their lives prematurely; a burden they ought not to be asked to bear.

We believe that the best response to individuals’ end of life concerns lies in ensuring that all receive compassionate, high-quality palliative care and that this is best pursued under current legislation. A law based on this Assisted Dying Bill would put at risk many more vulnerable people than it seeks to help.

Most Revd and Rt. Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Full list of signatories:

Commissioner Clive Adams, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army, UK and Republic of Ireland
Reverend Yemi Adedeji, Director, One People Commission
Mr Yousif Al-Khoei, Director Al-Khoei Foundation
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church, United Kingdom
Stuart Blount, National Leadership Team, Elim Pentecostal Churches
Revd Lyndon Bowring, Executive Chairman, CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education)
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance
Revd David Coffey OBE, Baptist Missionary Society Global Ambassador
Malcolm M Deboo, President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe
Rev Trevor Howard, UK Coordinator, Churches in Communities International
Billy Kennedy, Leader of Pioneer & CTE President
Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Rev Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Rev John Partington, National Leader, Assemblies of God GB
Revd Gareth Powell, Secretary of the Methodist Conference
Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE, Founder Trustee, British Muslim Forum and Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain
Dr Natubhai Shah, Chair/CEO Jain Network
Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations UK
Bhai Sahib Bhai (Dr) Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
Most Revd and Rt. Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Church leaders comment on the refugee crisis

Updated again Tuesday morning

There have been a few statements about the refugee crisis from Church of England bishops:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop of Canterbury on the refugee crisis

The Bishop of Ely Bishop of Ely statement on Syrian refugee crisis

The Bishop of Leeds Refugee crisis in Europe

The bishops of the Chelmsford diocese Churches pledge to welcome refugees in partnership with communities

The Bishop of Manchester A prayer for the refugee crisis
(Bishop Walker wrote about this topic for the Guardian back in April: Bishop of Manchester: I want leaders who look on migrants with compassion.)

The Dean of York: Refugee crisis: statement from the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York

The bishops of West Yorkshire and The Dales The refugee crisis – a message from our Bishops

The Archbishop of York Seeking Sanctuary

There is a list of other not-so-recent responses here.

And also this list from around the Anglican Communion.

The Bishops of the Church in Wales have issued this joint statement: Bishops call on churches to help refugees

Please do let us know, via the comments, of any other statements.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Next Bishop of Newcastle announced

Updated Thursday

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Newcastle: Christine Hardman
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 September 2015

The Venerable Christine Hardman is appointed as Her Majesty’s Bishop in the diocese of Newcastle.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christine Hardman BSc (Econ), M.Th, formerly Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich and now Honorary Assistant Priest in the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie Southwark, for election as Bishop of Newcastle in succession to the Right Reverend Martin Wharton, BA, on his resignation on 30th November 2014.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Christine Hardman, aged 64, holds a B.Sc (Econ) from the University of London and trained for the ministry on the St Albans Ministerial Training Scheme. She later studied for an M.Th. in Applied Theology from the University of Oxford. She was ordained Deacon in 1987 and served her title at St John the Baptist, Markyate Street in the diocese of St Albans. She took up the role of Course Director on the St Albans Ministerial Training Scheme in 1988 and was appointed Director of Mission Studies in 1991.

Christine was ordained Priest in 1994 and became Vicar of Holy Trinity and Christ the King, Stevenage in 1996 and also Rural Dean of Stevenage in 1999. She took up the role of Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich in 2001 in the Diocese of Southwark and retired from this office in 2012. Christine is married to Roger and they have 2 adult daughters, Elinor and Isabel.

Her interests include making connections between the worlds of economics and Christian faith, theatre, being in the mountains and cycling (especially bike tours in other countries and cultures).

The Newcastle diocesan website has Christine Hardman to be Twelfth Bishop of Newcastle.

Update

Tim Wyatt Church Times Christine Hardman named as C of E’s next woman bishop

The Eastern Region Ministry Course, the successor organisation to the St Albans Ministerial Training Scheme, has issued the statement below the fold.

PRESS RELEASE from the Eastern Region Ministry Course
APPOINTMENT OF VEN. CHRISTINE HARDMAN AS BISHOP OF NEWCASTLE

The Eastern Region Ministry Course (ERMC) sends its congratulations to Christine Hardman on the announcement that she is to be the next Bishop of Newcastle. Christine trained for ordination on the St Albans Ministry Course which was a predecessor of ERMC and was later a staff member on the course, helping it to evolve into the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course.

Acting Principal, the Rev’d Emma Rothwell said:

“It is a sincere joy to send our warmest congratulations to Christine as she prepares to take up her role as Bishop of Newcastle. I was delighted to read that Christine trained with the St Albans Ministry Course, which is now allied with ERMC. The capacity of students on courses to inhabit a theologically rich way of being, as they connect their training to other areas of life and professional experience is immeasurable and underrated in terms of mission and relating with the wider culture we live in. Our prayers and thoughts go with Christine as she continues her learning, taking up a ministry in the rich and diverse area of Newcastle.”

Acting Vice-Principal Charles Read added:

“I am delighted that Christine is to be the first diocesan bishop who trained on a course. She is a person of great experience both before and after ordination and someone who connects theology and life in deep and natural ways.”

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Simplifying Church Legislation

Optimising the role of the National Church Institutions (GS Misc 1094) was issued in January 2015 by the Joint Employment and Common Services Board of the National Church Institutions of the Church of England. Amongst other recommendations it proposed a new enabling measure that would simplify the process for amending existing church legislation.

The Archbishops’ Council subsequently issued a consultation document on this proposal (A Simpler Way of Reforming Church Legislation GS Misc 1103) in April; responses were required by the end of last month.

One response was this from the Ecclesiastical Law Society (ELS): Reforming Church Legislation: A Response by a Working Party of the Ecclesiastical Law Society to the Archbishops’ Council’s Consultation Document, GS Misc 1103.

Last week Ruth Gledhill wrote about this for Christian Today under the headline Senior lawyers launch devastating critique on church law reform plans.

David Pocklington has now written a rather more considered article on the ELS response for Law & Religion UK, which I commend to readers: “Henry VIII powers” for the bishops?

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Cathedral Statistics 2014

Updated Thursday and Friday

The Church of England has issued its Cathedral Statistics 2014 today, and this press release.

Cathedrals in England welcome over 10 million annually
19 August 2015

More than 10 million people visited Cathedrals in England in 2014, according to new figures published today in the Church of England’s Cathedral Research and Statistics report. Research shows that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.*

In 2014 the average number of adults and children attending Cathedral services each week was 36,000. This has increased by more than a fifth in the last decade. The three regions showing the strongest growth are Yorkshire and the Humber, London and the South East. Key aspects of growth that have been identified were creating a sense of community, quality of worship, service, preaching and music, exploring new patterns of service, spiritual openness and emphasis on families and young people.

Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics at the Archbishops Council, said: “Over the last decade we have seen growth in both visitors and worship at Cathedrals. Cathedral promotes spiritual openness, inclusivity and diversity in membership and outreach. Christmas and Easter are particularly busy times but we have also seen the increase of adult and child mid-week attendance. Cathedrals continue to play an important role in religious life, education and music.”

The number of young people attending educational events at cathedrals increased by nearly 14% between 2004 and 2014. At the centre of cathedral life is the daily offering of worship and praise. 4000 child and adult choristers were involved in providing traditional choral music in 2014, half as volunteers. Indeed over the last ten years the number of volunteers supporting the mission and ministry of cathedrals has risen to 15,200.

The Very Reverend Christopher Dalliston, the Dean of St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle,said: “One of the things we’ve done is to try to respond to the number of tourists and visitors. We’ve developed a chaplaincy scheme so as well as having welcomers to help people who want to come and explore we can articulate clearly the spiritual dimension of the cathedral and we have found that’s been enormously appreciated.

St Nicholas has also developed to meet the needs of the night time economy and for several years has hosted the street pastors scheme in the cathedral and outside to care for the vulnerable members of the night time economy and people who need pastoral care. The cathedral has introduced a night church model and from time to time is open on Friday nights to enable people to come and find stillness, peace and spiritual exploration in an informal context. Two to three hundred people have been attending a late night compline service.

The Dean continued: “What people have really discovered is that when they drop in to worship or visit they find a community that is welcoming, open and inclusive. I think that’s one of the things that’s been really significant in cathedral growth in every respect: in worship, developing groups and responding to the needs of the community. It’s the fact that permission is offered for anyone to come whenever and for whatever purpose but that there is an opportunity to engage at a deeper level.”

ENDS

Notes:

“A place of peace to worship and pray after a busy day at work.” From Anecdote to Evidence - Findings from the Church Growth Research Programme.

Read Reverend Christopher Dalliston, the Dean of St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle blog ‘Open All Hours’ here.

Listen to Revered Christopher Dalliston, the Dean of St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle, interview here.

View the Cathedral Research and Statistics Report here.

Thursday Update

John Bingham The Telegraph Cathedrals booming thanks to ‘late night shopping’ tactics

Katherine Backler The Tablet Church of England reports 10 million visitors to English cathedrals last year

Aaron James Premier 10 million visited cathedrals in 2014

Friday update

Tim Wyatt Church Times Cathedrals enjoy increased growth in visitors and worshippers

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Cathedral attendance falls for first time in 7 years

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Readers, PTO and canon law

David Pocklington writing at Law & Religion UK has published an article about the Jeremy Timm case.

The title is Readers, pastoral guidance and canon law.

He summarises the ecclesiastical law position thus:

…Section C of the Church’s Canons – Ministers, their ordination, functions and charge, concerns the three orders of ministry in the Pastoral Guidance, whereas Section E – The lay officers of the church, deals with churchwardens and their assistants, lay works, parish clerks and readers. Readers and other lay officers of the church are not addressed in the Pastoral Guidance and are not subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, as amended. Nevertheless, Mark Hill’s Ecclesiastical Law suggests,[3.67], that: “®eaders fall into a different category from other lay officers, since they are not elected or employed but admitted and licensed by the bishop to perform ministry in the church”. Their ministry role is summarized as:

“Readers are lay people, called by God, trained and licensed by the Church to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work,”

and, prior to admission as a reader, must make a Declaration of Assent and canonical obedience to the bishop, [Canon E5 §4]. No one admitted to the office of a reader may exercise that office without the permission of the bishop, either through a Licence or Permission to Officiate, [Canon E6 §1]. The revocation of a licence is subject to the procedure in Canon E6 §3, but there is no legal requirement to provide notice to terminate a PTO or an appeal process…

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

BBC Sunday programme interviews Jeremy Timm

The Rt Reverend Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, who is Chair of the Central Readers’ Council of the Church of England, was also interviewed. The BBC summary:

Jeremy Timm, a Reader in the Church of England, will have his preaching licence revoked by the Archbishop of York after choosing to marry his same-sex partner next month. Kevin Bocquet spoke to him about his decision, and Bishop Robert Paterson, Chair of the Central Readers’ Council, addresses the Church’s management of the issue.

The item starts about 21 minutes into the programme, which can be found from this page.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Jeremy Timm: further comment and reports

The Church Times has Reader ‘faced with choosing between marriage or ministry’

Updated (Thursday evening): the Church Times story has a new headline and location: Reader to lose Permission to Officiate over marriage plans

James Little, Team Rector of Howden Team Ministry, has published the following statement on Facebook

The CT asked me to comment as Jeremy’s Team Rector but didn’t include what I wrote, so here it is—

The Howden Team Ministry is a group of typically rural churches centred on Howden Minster in the East Riding of Yorkshire. We strive to be open, inclusive and welcoming to all and engaged with the communities we serve. The folk around here have known Jeremy since he was a lad and he is a popular and well-respected member of our ministry team. The removal of Jeremy’s PTO (for taking an entirely legal step) runs contrary to the message of welcome we proclaim.

I rejoiced when Bishop Alison was appointed as our new bishop for the East Riding and I applaud Archbishop Sentamu’s leadership in bringing this about. I was delighted to attend her consecration and her welcome service last month, seeing this as a great step forward on the road to equality, long overdue. However, I am saddened that our archbishop’s profound commitment to equality does not extend to the LGBTI community. I believe that the full involvement of women AND the full involvement of LGBTI Christians in the Church of England are, essentially, the same issue. All are one in Jesus Christ.

The Churchwardens are sufficiently concerned to take the unusual step of convening a meeting for later this week, to which I have been invited.

Jeremy will continue to have my full support.

The Telegraph also reports the story Gay Anglican preacher forced to ‘choose between marriage or ministry’

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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Jeremy Timm "PTO to be withdrawn"

Jeremy Timm, National Coordinator at Changing Attitude, is to have his ‘Permission to Officiate’ withdrawn by the Archbishop of York. Jeremy writes that:

Following a meeting with the Archbishop on July 17th, I have been living with an ultimatum which I was then presented with. I have been in a civil partnership with Mike, since 2009, and we have been discussing commuting this to marriage for some time. I was told that although my ministry was much valued, if we change our status to being married then my PTO would be withdrawn with immediate effect. I was faced with choosing between marriage or ministry. …

I pointed out that if he were to withdraw my PTO then I would feel I had little choice but to continue my journey of faith outside the Church of England as all those things I explore with the churches such as welcome, encouragement, the recognition of gifts and ministries, growth and potential suddenly have no real meaning for me.

Jeremy’s full statement is published by Changing Attitude here.

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Monday, 10 August 2015

Report from Independent Reviewer on All Saints, Cheltenham

The second report of the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration is now available and can be read here.

Report from Independent Reviewer on All Saints, Cheltenham
10 August 2015

As part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops in 2014, it agreed to an ombudsman-style procedure by which those with concerns about the operation of the new arrangements could appeal to an Independent Reviewer.

In October last year the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed Sir Philip Mawer as the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

Sir Philip’s report on All Saints, Cheltenham is published today.

Notes:

Further details on the work of the Independent Reviewer can be found here.

This report considers the “licensing of the Revd Angela Smith as an “Associate Priest in the North Cheltenham Team” despite the fact that the Team Benefice included the Parish of All Saints where, by virtue of paragraph 43 of the House of Bishops’ Declaration, the PCC was to be treated as having passed a Resolution under paragraph 20 of the Declaration”.

Forward in Faith has issued this statement.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK writes about this second report.

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Sunday Trading: should there be changes?

Various people in the Church of England have criticised the government’s latest proposals to change the Sunday trading laws in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate laws).

Here is the actual consultation document, a 21 page pdf file.

And here is a helpful explanation of it from David Pocklington: Consultation – Sunday Trading.

See these news reports:

And see these blog articles:

Also this: Michael Nazir-Ali Sunday shopping risks depriving us of something precious

All of which has led the government to write to the bishops: Church told: Back Sunday shopping to save the high street.

Earlier this month, Bryony Gordon wrote this in the Telegraph Sunday opening won’t destroy the Church - but the Church might destroy itself.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

New leadership training already showing “first fruits” in Church of England

The Bishop of Ely has said that “The delivery of new training programmes for senior leaders in the Church of England is already bearing fruit.” Details are in this blog by the bishop and in this press release.

New leadership training already showing “first fruits” in Church of England
04 August 2015

The delivery of new training programmes for senior leaders in the Church of England is already bearing fruit, according to the senior bishop overseeing the programme.

Writing in the first of a series of blogs reflecting on Leadership and Development training, Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, who chairs the Development and Appointments Group of the House of Bishops, said that feedback from those having attended the courses “has been extremely positive and we feel blessed for the fruits it is already bearing.”

The first leadership programme for cathedral deans and leaders of greater churches held in March at Judge Business School in Cambridge, included remarks by one participant who observed that it had been “by a country mile, the most impressive course I have under taken in over 30 years of ordained ministry”. Another said, “Overall this has been an outstanding week, both in content and shape. Of course, there has been much value in conversations, etc., but the stand-out feature has been the sessions, with speakers of very high quality, genuinely addressing core issues for this very specific audience”.

As a result of the positive feedback, a repeat of the programme next year has been requested for those unable to attend in March, whilst seminars on some of the key themes will be run in due course for members of the cathedral teams.

The new modular development programmes for bishops have also attracted encouraging feedback, Bishop Stephen said, with 18 bishops gathering at Leicester’s Cathedral Centre earlier this year for the first module with one bishop commenting that the first module was “probably the best piece of in-service training I’ve had since I was a Team Vicar in the 1980s”.

The first meeting of the new Learning Community in July, to help prepare those who might take on wider responsibilities in the future, has also received generous feedback with one participant reflecting on how the training would have an immediate impact on their parish ministry: “The models and insights offered were very helpful, but grounded in practice and in the reality of church, and the balance of presentation, reflection and group work was just right in my view… I haven’t been so enthused and inspired for a long time”.

The full text of Bishop Stephen’s blog is here and is copied below the fold.

First Fruits

We are making real progress in the journey to equip our senior leaders for the role and responsibilities to which they are called and to prepare those who might take on wider responsibility in the future. The first in a series of blogs sharing the first fruits of that endeavour

There was not enough time during the productive Synod debate on Leadership last month to share how the new leadership programmes are actually being received. In spite of the uneasiness that some have felt around the tone and style of this new departure, the reality has been extremely positive and we feel blessed for the fruits it is already bearing.

The months leading up to Synod had seen the first of the Leadership Programmes for Cathedral Deans. The 19 deans and 9 leaders of greater churches who attended the programme in March at the Judge Business School in Cambridge found great value in the learning experience: This has been, by a country mile, the most impressive course I have undertaken in over 30 years of ordained ministry, one observed. Fears that management speak would be untranslatable to the world of the Church and theology were unfounded. Another said, Overall this has been an outstanding week, both in content and shape. Of course, there has been much value in conversations, etc., but the stand-out feature has been the sessions, with speakers of very high quality, genuinely addressing core issues for this very specific audience.

Perhaps the best testament to the usefulness of the programme is the fact that many of those who did not sign up for the first session have requested that we repeat the programme in 2016; we will also in due course be running seminars on some of the key themes of the programme, for members of the Cathedral teams.

Soon after the Deans programme, eighteen bishops gathered in Leicesters Cathedral Centre for the new modular development programmes for bishops. After just one module, it is too early to gauge the impact of the learning but we are encouraged by the bishops sense of being helpfully disrupted in their thinking and finding that the programme had opened up whole vistas. We are heartened that the quality of the programmes was widely appreciated: Probably the best piece of in-service training I’ve had since I was a Team Vicar in the 1980’s.

It was then from Leicester to Lambeth for the launch of a new Learning Community of those discerned as having the gifts and the calling to move into wider responsibility in the future. Once again, we were encouraged by the gracious way in which those who were offered a place this time and those who werent found the process to be helpful and affirming. An inspirational first day of development on Organisational Leadership was welcomed by participants with further generous feedback: The models and insights offered were very helpful, but grounded in practice and in the reality of church, and the balance of presentation, reflection and group work was just right in my view I haven’t been so enthused and inspired for a long time. And, more starkly, it’s like finding water in a desert.

Such has been the appreciation from those undertaking their learning development journey that I’m reminded of Archbishop Justin’s reflection that without this provision we put unreasonable stress on those in positions of leadership, neglecting to love them as we are called to do.

In September the new Learning Community gathers in Canterbury for a residential module and a conversation with the Archbishop. The reading list for the group will include the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) report Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection - I’ll look forward to updating you then. We look forward to welcoming new members as the community grows in the coming years.

Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

Bishop Stephen chairs the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) of the House of Bishops, serving the continuing training and development of existing senior clergy and the nurture of future senior leaders.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Church views on the Calais refugee crisis

Updated

Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times on various statements made recently by Church of England bishops: Bishops critical of Government over migrant crisis

Now replaced by Show more compassion to migrants, urge bishops

The article she mentions from the Observer quoting the Bishop of Dover, Trevor Willmott, is here: Church attacks David Cameron’s lack of compassion over asylum crisis.

Other recent commentators include:

The Guardian also has Inside the Calais migrants’ church – in pictures

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Friday, 31 July 2015

First report from Independent Reviewer: Chrism Masses

The first report of the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration is now available and can be read here.

First report from Independent Reviewer
31 July 2015

As part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops in 2014, it agreed to an ombudsman-style procedure by which those with concerns about the operation of the new arrangements could appeal to an Independent Reviewer.

In October last year the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed Sir Philip Mawer as the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

Sir Philip’s first Report is published today and can be read here.

Notes:

Further details on the work of the Independent Reviewer can be found here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 31 July 2015 at 1:39pm BST | Comments (84) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 30 July 2015

CofE Finance Statistics for 2013

The Church of England has released Finance Statistics 2013, containing information provided by parishes in their annual finance returns. They can be downloaded as a 25 page pdf document.

There is an accompanying press release.

Almost £1billion sets new record for Church of England parish giving
30 July 2015

Parish Churches across the country raised a record £953 million in 2013 to fund the mission and ministry of the Church of England according to statistics published today. Parishes raised these important funds from a combination of regular and one-off donations as well as investments and legacies.

Parishes have seen a combined increase in income of £24m over figures from 2012, and after total expenditure, which also decreased on 2012, saw a £33m surplus.

In addition to supporting the work of the Church at parish, diocesan and national level, Parishes have continued to give more than £46m to other organisations working around the world, from foodbanks and local children’s charities to international aid appeals.

Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser, said:

“With the latest financial statistics, we’ve seen average weekly giving rise in 2013 to our highest ever level. We rely on the generosity of our committed church members to support the mission and ministry of the Church. Post-downturn, people have really looked at what is important to them and found a sense of community and belonging within the Church.”

Average weekly giving per tax-efficient subscriber has continued to rise year on year with members giving on average £11.60 in 2013. Average weekly giving per church member rose to £7 in 2013, matching the peak level seen in 2009.The average ‘Church member’ contributed 3.3% of their income to the Church. with 2.9% to general funds, and a further 0.4% to special purpose funds.

The information in the Finance statistics document is collated from the annual parish returns, and is available here.

You can read a blog by John Preston on the latest statistics here.

The press release also includes some case studies.

Some earlier parish finance statistics are available here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 30 July 2015 at 12:40pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Everyone Counts 2014

Updated Friday

Everyone Counts is a diversity audit. A congregational survey was carried out in autumn 2014 in a sample of Church of England parishes with a particular focus on ethnicity, disability and locality. Background information is available here.

Key findings have now been published. Here are a few that I have picked at random.

If congregations in England were 100 people:

59 would be female
11 would be children aged 11 or younger
19 would be aged 76 or older
7 would be minority ethnic Anglicans
37 would have at least one health issue or disability (including 8 with mobility impairments and 3 with mental health conditions).

There are 6 adults in church to every 1 child or young person.

35% of churches are in rural hamlets and isolated areas, but only 1% of the population lives there.

There is a difference of about 18 years between the median age of minority ethnic and white British Anglicans (44 and 62 years).

Update

The Church of England issued the following statement this evening (Friday 24 July):

Statement on ‘Everyone Counts’ survey
24 July 2015

In response to questions in correspondence and on social media over the choice of questions included in the “Everybody Counts” survey, Dr. Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics at the Archbishops Council said:

“The ‘Everybody Counts’ statistical exercise was carried out to build upon the Diversity Audit carried out in 2007. By carrying out further work in this area it was hoped to establish trends over time rather than one off snapshots of particular data.

The Diversity Audit originated from formal requests from members of CMEAC (The Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns) for a statistical picture of dioceses on ethnic diversity. In designing the latest survey our starting point was to replicate the 2007 data which did not include a question on sexual orientation. The national disability adviser for the Church had recognised that we did not have any information on people with disabilities which was why that added question appeared.

I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment raised by members of our congregations who feel that the lack of a question on sexual orientation meant that they are not a valued part of our church. I promise this was never the intention. I am entirely open to including additional questions in any further work.”

More information about Everyone Counts can be found at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/everyone-counts-2014.aspx

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Rachel Treweek and Sarah Mullally consecrated bishops


Rachel Treweek and Dame Sarah Mullally were consecrated as bishops by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a service today at Canterbury Cathedral.

Rachel Treweek will be enthroned as Bishop of Gloucester in Gloucester Cathedral on 19 September, the first women to be a diocesan bishop in the Church of England. She will also receive a writ of summons to sit in the House of Lords.

Dame Sarah Mullally will serve as the suffragan Bishop of Crediton in the diocese of Exeter, and will be welcomed at a service in Exeter Cathedral on 12 September.

Premier has a report and selection of pictures (including the picture shown above).

Gloucester diocese has a live text stream of the day with some pictures including a video clip

Exeter diocese has a story “Devon’s first woman bishop consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral”.

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Monday, 20 July 2015

General Synod elections 2015

The 2010-2015 General Synod was dissolved on Monday 13 July 2015 immediately after it finished its July group of sessions in York. The election of a new Synod will take place over the summer and early autumn.

There is official information on the elections on this webpage including these papers.

Election Rules of the Three Houses
Guidance for Dioceses

The second of these includes this draft timetable for the diocesan elections.

1 Notification to electors of the election timetable to be followed in the diocese and issue of nomination papers - Not later than Tuesday 21st July

2 Notification of the validity of any nomination - As soon as any nomination is received

3 Closing date for nominations - Friday 4th September

4 Issue of voting papers - Friday 18th September

5 Closing date for return of voting papers - Friday 9th October

6 Day of the count - Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th, or Thursday 15th October.

7 Names and addresses of those elected and result sheet to be sent to the diocesan bishop, the Clerk to the Synod, every candidate and to the Election Scrutineer. - Not later than the fourth working day after the date of the declaration of the result.

However dioceses have some discretion, so candidates and electors should check carefully what the dates are in their own diocese, particularly the closing dates for nominations and the return of voting papers.

The numbers of clergy (“proctors”) and laity to be elected by each diocese are contained in appendices A and B of GS 1975.

Changes to the rules since 2010 mean that dioceses must now publish all election addresses on the diocesan website before issuing the voting papers. After the election the the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) must also be posted on the website until the end of the first group of sessions of the new General Synod (ie 25 November 2015).

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Question on CNC and human sexuality

Three questions were asked about the workings of the Crown Nominations Commission, two of which were answered by the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop of Canterbury answered only this one (copied from the booklet):

Mr John Ward (London) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

Q44. In the light of the answer the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to question 15 at the February group of sessions, and in particular his statement that when candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues, including (by implication) human sexuality, is among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment, can it be confirmed whether any guidance to that effect has been provided to the CNC and, if it has, will that guidance be published?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:

A The current version of the guidance material provided to CNC members is something which accurately reflects what I said to the Synod in February. Like previous versions of the guidance it has been shared with the Crown Nominations Commission and Bishops who are making appointments to suffragan sees. I shall want to consult the House of Bishops on whether it should be made more widely available.

Two supplementary questions were put, and the following has been transcribed from the audio recording.

Mr John Ward:

I think what the chairman is saying is, that simply saying that the church’s teaching on human sexuality is wrong, is enough to prevent you from being appointed as a bishop. Given this is rather shocking doctrinal discrimination, and given that bishops who won’t ordain women cannot always be a focus for unity for everyone, but are very properly given a special place in the church, will you give a special place in the church for a bishop who thinks that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is double speak?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I don’t accept your presupposition.

Mrs April Alexander:

If the effective requirement to be heterosexual is not in the person spec., what is the mechanism by which it can fairly emerge later in the process?

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I’m sorry, could you… I don’t understand the question.
[Question repeated with addition of three words “for the post” after “spec.”]
Yes Mrs Alexander, I heard the words, I don’t understand the question.

The following day, during another debate, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this (also transcribed from the audio recording, and not fully included in the version of his intervention published on his website):

…Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night, which I handled badly, for which I apologise to the questioners and also to the synod, that we are committed to nurturing the vocation across the whole of God’s people, regardless of sexuality, and regardless of lay or ordained…

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The CofE and safeguarding

As I reported here and here, General Synod’s business over the weekend included several items regarding safeguarding.

In Safeguarding, the C of E and deposition from orders Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK summarises the contents of the new legislative package, and looks at what deposition (“defrocking”) actually means.

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Restoration of deposition?

This question on the possible restoration of the canonical penalty of deposition from Holy Orders was asked at General Synod on Friday evening.

The Revd Neil Patterson (Hereford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:

Q74. Following the concerns expressed by MACSAS and others about clergy convicted of serious offences continuing to maintain their clerical style and dress, will the House of Bishops consider bringing forward proposals to restore the canonical penalty of deposition from Holy Orders, in order that the Church may more clearly repudiate from its ministry those who have seriously betrayed the trust placed in them?

The Bishop of Durham to reply on behalf of the Chair:

A There are two issues here. Firstly, with regard to the wearing of clerical dress- including clerical collars- taking power to prevent prohibited clergy from wearing clerical dress would be problematic, not least since it would be unenforceable in practice. With regard to exercising ministry, prohibition for life already exists as the most severe penalty under the Clergy Discipline Measure and may be invoked in the case of serious safeguarding offences. When the draft Clergy Discipline Measure was being considered in 2000 the Synod decided not to include deposition in the range of penalties available under the Measure.

I intend to invite the House of Bishops to reconsider whether that decision was wise but amending the CDM to allow deposition would require a Measure, so change would take some considerable time.

The question was not reached in the available time, so no supplementary questions were possible, although as with all questions now the answer was published in advance.

Press reports include:

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Church of England brings back powers to defrock vicars guilty of sex abuse and other crimes
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could return to defrocking rogue priests after child abuse scandals

The first report appears to confuse “The House of Bishops will be asked to think about doing it” with “It will be done”.

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General Synod - Monday's business - climate change

Order paper 5 lists the day’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon

Sound recordings
morning
afternoon

In the morning Synod debated climate change and passed this motion:

That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 ̊C, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:

(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;

(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options

(c) encourage the redirection of resources into other lower carbon energy options;

(d) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;

(e) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-servicetraining to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and

(f) encourage parishes and dioceses to draw attention to the initiative supported by members of the Faith and Climate network encouraging Christians to pray and fast for climate justice on the first day of each month.

The Bishop of Salisbury opened the debate with this speech.
The Archbishop of Canterbury made this contribution to the debate.
Bishop of Sheffield’s speech
There is also this official press release: Urgent action needed on climate change urges Synod.

In the afternoon, Synod debated climate change and investment policy and passed this motion:

That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:

(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);

(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;

(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change;

(d) urge the NIBs to encourage the work of those energy companies committed to carbon pricing and investing in research into cleaner fuels, natural gas and carbon capture and storage;

(e) urge the NIBs proactively to seek and scale up investment in renewable energy and other low carbon energy sectors and to track low carbon indices;

(f) request the EIAG and the NIBs to publish their ‘engagement framework’ by June 2016; and

(g) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.

The Bishop of Manchester opened the debate with this speech.
There is also this official press release: General Synod welcomes climate change policy.

Press reports and comments

Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod urges investors to act on climate change

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Going green is holy, say Church of England bishops: General Synod calls for vicars to have training in ‘eco-theology’

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England governing body approves divestment policy

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting

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Inquiry into church sex abuse

Updated Friday

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he wants the Church to be reviewed first by the independent inquiry led by Justice Lowell Goddard which is expected to last five years.

BBC Archbishop of Canterbury promises sex abuse inquiry

The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to investigate sex abuse in the Church of England if the judge-led abuse inquiry does not look into it within six months. Justin Welby made the promise during a private meeting with survivors of clerical abuse earlier this week…

Michael Segalov The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury ‘promises inquiry into church sex abuse’ to survivors in private meeting this week

Update

Madeleine Davies Church Times Welby pledges new probe into abuse

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

General Synod - Sunday's business

On Sunday morning Synod members joined the regular congregation for the Eucharist in York Minster. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon.

Order paper 4 lists Sunday’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business

sound recordings
afternoon
Bishop of Chelmsford - CMEAC presentation
evening

Press release on the presentation by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns: Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society [copied below the fold]
I too am CofE - video included in the presentation

Press preview

John Bingham The Telegraph Nine-year-olds allowed to administer Holy Communion under Church shake-up
[As well as looking forward to the final approval debate on Sunday, this article also looks back to the preliminary debate held on Friday.]

Press report

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England failing to promote minority ethnic clergy, says bishop

Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society
12 July 2015

More needs to be done to promote the full inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans at every level of the Church of England, including the most senior clergy appointments, the General Synod heard today.

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford,introducing a presentation to Synod by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) said it was “critically important” that the leadership of the Church of England at every level reflects the reality of a multi-cultural society.

“Quite simply, the leadership and ministry of the Church of England no longer looks like or adequately reflects the diversity and creativity of the communities it serves. This should be a huge concern and directly affects our credibility as a national Church and our mission,” he said.

“Until we look like the community we serve, not only are we denying ourselves of talent and insight, we are making the work of evangelism and service so much harder. That is why this work of inclusion and representation is unfinished business.”

His remarks were made after Synod members watched a video, part of a follow-up to the 2011 report Unfinished Business on inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans in the Church of England.

Those featuring in the film include Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Revd Jason Roach, and Sheila Root and Shay Prince, who are both lay members of the Church of England.

Bishop Stephen was joined by Dr Elizabeth Henry, CMEAC national adviser, the Archdeacon of Reigate, Danny Kajumba, Fr Paul Cartwright and Canon Linda Ali in a panel question-and-answer session following the presentation.

The discussion at General Synod followed the publication today of Everyone Counts, a congregational survey carried out in a sample of parishes as part of a long-term commitment to monitoring diversity within the Church.

Watch the video

Background paper by Dr Henry

Link to Everyone Counts 2014 Diversity audit key findings

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

General Synod - Saturday's business

Order Paper 2 contains the business for Saturday morning and afternoon.

Official press release on the safeguarding business: Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation - copied below the fold

Official summaries of the day’s business:
morning
afternoon and evening

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the debate on senior church leadership: Archbishop speaks at Synod on senior church leadership

Sound recordings
morning
farewell to Michael Perham
afternoon
evening

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Sex abuse priests could return to church without checks, warns Archbishop of York

Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation
11 July 2015

The General Synod today gave final approval to a package of proposals intended to take further the process of making the Church a safer place for children and vulnerable adults - both by making the disciplinary processes under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 more effective where safeguarding issues arise and by strengthening the Church’s wider legal framework in relation to safeguarding in various ways. The legislation was originally introduced in February 2014 following a consultation launched at Synod in July 2013.

Speaking in the debate, Bishop Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding, said:
“We all want every single one of our churches and institutions to be safer places and communities for all people; notably for children and adults at times of risk and harm, whether that be long or short term.” He added that along with facing up to the consequences of the past “our emphasis has to be on prevention” stressing that, along with the new legislation, high quality training, safe recruiting and effective quality assurance needed to be implemented at every level of church life. The Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and draft Amending Canon No. 34 (links below) contains a range of elements including:

Adding to the bishop’s existing powers to suspend a priest or deacon, extending to circumstances where the local authority or police provide information which leads the bishop to be satisfied that they present a significant risk of harm. With similar powers for an archbishop to suspend a bishop in such circumstances. (As with all existing provisions this includes a right of appeal to President of Tribunals where suspension occurs).

  • Provision for the disqualification from office as a churchwarden or member of a parochial church council (‘PCC’) anyone whose name appears on a statutory barred list (under the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act).
  • Provision for the bishop to suspend a churchwarden or PCC member on safeguarding grounds in circumstances similar to suspending clergy (with a similar right of appeal).
  • For the first time a statutory obligation on office holders in the Church to have regard to safeguarding advice issued by the House of Bishops (it has previously been expected of clergy but it is now formalised into a statutory provision).
  • Removal of current one year limitation period that applies generally to complaints of clergy misconduct: in relation to complaints of clergy sexual misconduct towards children and vulnerable adults there will be no time limit.
  • Canonical duty on diocesan bishop to have a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (‘DSA’) to carry out certain functions. Dioceses have in fact had DSAs for a number of years but this formalizes the requirement to ensure proper provision is in place.
  • A new power given to archbishops and bishops to direct bishops and clergy to undergo a risk assessment (with it the right to request that the President of Tribunals reviews the direction). Subject to this review, it would be misconduct to refuse to undergo the assessment.
  • Similar powers for the bishop in relation to readers and layworkers.

The aim is to secure Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent by the end of the year.

Notes

The Bishop of Durham’s speech on Final approval for the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure is available here.

and the Bishop of Durham’s speech on the Final approval for the Draft amending Canon No. 34 is available here.

The Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure

Draft amending Canon No. 34

The latest practice guidance, approved by the House of Bishops, May 2015

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Friday, 10 July 2015

General Synod - Friday's business

Order Paper 1 contains the day’s business.

Synod papers can be downloaded from here.

There is a live video stream here (when Synod is in session).

The Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén (the Archbishop of Uppsala) (Church of Sweden) gave this address to Synod: Tal till Engelska kyrkans kyrkomöte i York 10 juli 2015 (på engelska)

Official summary of the day’s business General Synod: Friday PM

Sound recordings
item 2 [Archbishop of Uppsala’s address]
item 3 [Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address]
items 4-6 [remainder of afternoon session]
questions

Press report

John Bingham The Telegraph Church’s £360,000 budget for retreats to talk about sex

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General Synod Questions and Answers

The booklet containing the Questions and Answers to be dealt with in this evening’s session is now available on line.

You will need this file open if you are listening to the proceedings as the answers, never mind the questions, will not be read out loud.

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Reform unequivocally supports Hull vicar

We reported previously on the statement issued by the Archbishop of York in response to the remarks of a vicar in Hull.

Reform has issued this website comment, supporting the vicar and criticising York Minster:

As the Steering Group of Reform met last week, the events surrounding the blessing of the Gay Pride march in York could not be ignored.

Whilst the Reform Steering Group stands opposed to homophobia, nevertheless they were unanimously of the view that it was an offense to all bible-believing Christians for the Minster to endorse, without qualification, the activities of York Pride with the intention of “affirming the LGBT community”.

They appreciated the Archbishop of York’s statement affirming the “traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behavior” and agreed with him that God loves and values all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and that that same love should be shown by Christians. They hope that the Archbishop of York is prepared to stand by the whole of Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and the Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué which affirms this teaching.

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform, said “We long for all churches to model Jesus Christ’s welcome to all people – a welcome that loves us enough not only to walk with us in self-sacrificial love but also to warn us of God’s judgment and call us to repent of our rejection of God’s ways.”

They therefore wish to express their unequivocal support for the stand that Rev Melvin Tinker, a founder member of Reform, has taken and they applaud his courage in being prepared to speak graciously and clearly of the Church’s responsibility to teach and act according to biblical principles.

The Archbishop of Canterbury proposes to consecrate the Chair of Reform, The Reverend Rod Thomas, as Bishop of Maidstone at a service in Canterbury Cathedral on 23 September.

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General Synod to discuss Senior Leadership in the Church

There is a Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Canon Simon Killwick which will be debated on Saturday afternoon. The motion is:

‘That this Synod do take note of the report of the Faith and Order Commission Senior Leadership: a resource for reflection.’

Two synod papers are available:

Fr. Killwick’s paper contains a very useful summary of the FAOC report as well as a history of the debate which caused it to be commissioned, and he also reports that:

…when it appeared, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops decided that it should not be presented to Synod, according [to] the Bishop of Coventry (it was thrown ‘somewhere away beyond the boundary’). I am grateful to all those who signed my Private Member’s Motion, meaning that it has not taken too long [to] find this ‘rather interesting cricket ball’ again…

There are also several Questions which will be asked and answered on Friday on topics relating to the Senior Leadership activities emanating from the Green report, and we will publish this information as soon as it has been placed on the official CofE website (synod members all have electronic copies already).

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new Bishops of Edmonton and Islington announced

Updated

It has been announced that Robert Wickham and Ric Thorpe will become the suffragan bishops of Edmonton and Islington respectively in the diocese of London.

There are separate press releases from Number 10.

Suffragan Bishop of Edmonton: Robert Wickham
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Robert Wickham to the Suffragan See of Edmonton in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Robert Wickham MA, Rector of St John-at-Hackney in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Edmonton in the diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Wheatley MA following his resignation on 31 December 2014.

Notes for editors

Mr Wickham was educated at Grey College, Durham and King’s College, London and trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at the Shrine Parish of St Mary Willesden in the diocese of London and was ordained priest in 1999. He went on to serve in what was to become the Parish of Old St Pancras in 2001. He took up his current role as Rector of St John-at-Hackney in 2007 and additionally became Area Dean of Hackney in 2014.

Mr Wickham is married to Helen, a primary school teacher, and they have three young children, Tom, Susannah and Harry. His interests include walking, family days out and following the fortunes of Plymouth Argyle football club.

Suffragan Bishop of Islington: Reverend Ric Thorpe
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Ric Thorpe to the Suffragan See of Islington in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Ric Thorpe BSC, Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell with Ratcliffe St James in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Islington in the diocese of London which has been in abeyance since 1923.

Notes to editors

Mr Thorpe was educated at Birmingham University and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall. He served his title at Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul, Onslow Square in the diocese of London and was ordained priest in 1997. He went on to serve as Priest in Charge of St Paul’s Shadwell in 2005 before becoming Rector of the same parish in 2010. He served as Priest in Charge of All Hallows, Bromley by Bow between 2010 and 2014.

Since 2000, Ric has been actively involved in supporting and enabling church planting in the Church of England. He took a team of 100 to St Paul’s Shadwell in 2005 and then went on to send planting teams to 4 other Anglican churches in Tower Hamlets to revitalise their parishes. In 2012, Ric was appointed as the Bishop of London’s Adviser for Church Planting and has been invited to support church plants in a number of other dioceses. He is also Tutor in Church Planting at St Mellitus College.

Ric is married to Louie, and they have three teenage children, Zoe, Barny and Toby, along with a springer spaniel called Tasha. Ric’s interests include sailing, rowing, music, eating chocolate, and he has competed in the London Marathon and London Triathlon.

The London diocesan website has Two new bishops and new archdeacon for London announced; it includes this information on consecration dates.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will consecrate Rob Wickham as the new Bishop of Edmonton on 23 September in Canterbury, alongside the Bishops of Kensington and Maidstone. The Archbishop will consecrate Ric Thorpe as the new Bishop of Islington in St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 September.

Update

The Bishop of London has issued this ad clerum: New bishops of Edmonton, Islington and new Archdeacon of Hampstead.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 10:15am BST | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Reform and GAFCON respond to Episcopal Church marriage decisions

Updated to add Ugandan statement

Reform has issued this press release: Reform Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage

July 7th, 2015

The Episcopal Church in the USA redefined the definition of marriage and approved liturgy for the blessing of same-sex marriages.

Reform shares the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern about the stress this action will cause the Anglican Communion. We echo his call to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity was “for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] message.” (John 17.20). The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)

In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)

Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.

We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).

GAFCON has issued this press release: TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’.

TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’

A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States’ (TEC) decision to make ‘Same – Sex Marriage’ official

The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.

The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.

With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony.

It may be claimed that TEC is modelling ‘two integrities’, but the Church of God finds its integrity in teaching and living according to the received Word of God. The determination of TEC to press ahead with changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety, shows very clearly the inadequacy of initiatives designed to create reconciliation without repentance.

The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that claims ‘same sex marriage’ is a constitutional right puts pressure on all churches in the United States, but in different ways all of our Provinces face the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture. It is within this context that we commend the Anglican Church in North America for their willingness to speak with courage, truth, and charity. Being part of a global Communion should always be such a source of mutual encouragement to faithful witness, not a source of hurt to that witness.

The GAFCON movement remains totally committed to the renewal of this global witness and the restoration of its integrity, knowing that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all need to hear the good news of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. It welcomes and recognizes Anglicans who through no fault of their own have had to disaffiliate from their original province over serious matters of biblical truth. The struggle and spirit of the remnant church must be kept alive.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Vice Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

6th July 2015

Update
The Archbishop of Uganda has also issued a statement: Abp’s Statement on same-sex marriage in TEC and USA. The full text is copied below the fold.

Archbishop of Uganda’s statement

The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America to change the definition of marriage is grievous. There is a saying, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” As a religious leader in Uganda, I want to assure all Ugandans that we will do everything we can to promote the good moral health of our people and resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people.

Likewise, the most recent decision of the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) to change the definition of marriage is even more grievous. At best, it sprang from a desire to extend pastoral care to members of its church who experience same-sex attraction. Pastoral care, however, that is contrary to the Bible’s message is, ultimately, cruel and misleading.

The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) in 2003 when they unilaterally changed the received Biblical and moral teaching of the Anglican Communion on ordination. The Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously agreed – including the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church – that, should TEC proceed with the consecration as Bishop of a divorced father of two living in a same-sex relationship, it would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, which is exactly what has happened over the past twelve years.

In spite of TEC’s 2006 resolution that expressed their “regret” at “straining” the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion, they have, nonetheless, continued their march toward dismantling the Christian faith and morals, culminating in their recent decision to change the definition of marriage – something that was “given by God in creation.”

Likewise, Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10.6-9).

The definition and meaning of marriage is not something that can be defined by voting. It is something that is given by God in general revelation and in special revelation, and it is for us as human beings and, especially, the Church, to simply receive and follow. The fact that 2+2 equals 4 cannot be changed by a vote or decree. Neither can the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman be changed by a vote.

What St. Paul wrote to Timothy is as relevant today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)

The Church of Uganda was blessed to play a small role in the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative and biblically faithful Anglican Church in North America. Through our GAFCON fellowship, a number of Archbishops from Global South Provinces recognized the validity of the Anglican Church in North America, and we support them in their resolution to promote healthy and spiritually strong families and marriages between one man and one woman.

Sadly, the so-called “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion have not been able to restore godly order to the Communion, nor do they seem to have the will to do so. While we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion, we do not lose hope. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4.5)

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda.
7th July 2015

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Friday, 3 July 2015

Church Growth

Today’s issue of Church Times has a special series of feature articles (ten pages long in the paper edition): “planned, measured - or wild? getting to grips with church growth”. All are available online, including these which do not need a subscription for access.

Grace Davie Not fade away: the challenge for the Church

Leader: A work of the Spirit

David Goodhew Numbers have always mattered

My tips: Pete Broadbent
Linda Woodhead
Philip North and Dan Tyndall

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Alison White consecrated Bishop of Hull

In a service today (the feast of Thomas the Apostle) in York Minister, Alison White was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of York to serve as suffragan bishop of Hull in the diocese of York. She is the second female bishop to be consecrated, after Libby Lane, suffragan bishop of Stockport.

York diocese has this report Bishop Alison’s Consecration:

Two thousand people, including sixty bishops from across the globe, gathered at York Minster on Friday 3rd June [Ed: actually 3rd July] for the Consecration of the Rt Revd Alison White as Bishop of Hull.

The Bishops attending the service included the Rt Revd Ingeborg Midttømme (Bishop of Møre in Norway) the Rt Revd Garth Counsell (Bishop of Table Bay in our twin Diocese of Cape Town) the Rt Revd Helen-Ann Hartley (Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand), and the Rt Revd Terence Drainey (Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough).

Also attending the service were children from Broomhaugh C of E First School in Riding Mill, where Alison was vicar, and students from Archbishop Sentamu Academy.

Speaking before the service, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, said this was “a day of celebration for the Northern Province”. This was especially the case for the Diocese of York as we not only welcomed Bishop Alison to the Diocese, but also marked the first anniversary of the consecrations of Bishops Paul and John!

Alison was presented for consecration by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, and the recently retired Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton. The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, preached the sermon.

During the service, a one minute’s service [Ed: silence] was held at noon for the victims of the attack in Tunisia.

At the end of the service, Alison was presented with her pastoral staff, made with a traditional Northumbrian ram’s horn by Neville Straker of Amble.

There are more pictures on Flickr.

BBC news has Second woman bishop Alison White consecrated.

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Graham Tomlin to be Suffragan Bishop of Kensington

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop for Kensington: Graham Tomlin
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin MA PhD, Dean of St Mellitus College in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Williams MA on his translation to the See of Southwell and Nottingham.

Notes for editors

Dr Tomlin was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Leonard with Holy Trinity Exeter, in the diocese of Exeter from 1986 to 1989.

He was ordained priest in 1987 and became Chaplain at Jesus College, Oxford in 1989. He started as a tutor at Wycliffe Hall in 1989 and went on to become Vice-Principal there from 1998 to 2005.

He took up the role of Principal of St Paul’s Theological Centre in the diocese of London in 2005 before going on to serve in his current post as Dean (now Principal) of St Mellitus College in 2007.

Dr Tomlin is married to Janet with two grown up married children. His interests include many forms of music and sport, including football, cricket, golf and rugby, and Middle Eastern politics and history.

London diocesan website Dr Graham Tomlin announced as the new Bishop of Kensington

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Anne Hollinghurst to be Suffragan Bishop of Aston

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Aston: The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, to the Suffragan See of Aston.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, Vicar of St Peter’s St Albans in the diocese of St Albans, to the Suffragan See of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham in succession to the Right Reverend Andrew Watson MA on his translation to the See of Guildford on 24 November 2014.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst (aged 51) holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. She later studied for an MSt at the University of Cambridge. Prior to ordination she was a Youth Worker on the staff of the Hyson Green/ Basford Team Ministry in inner-city Nottingham. She served her title at Saviour’s Nottingham in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham from 1996 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1997 and went on to become Chaplain at the University of Derby and Derby Cathedral in 1999. In 2005 she took up the role of Bishop’s Domestic Chaplain and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in the Diocese of Manchester before moving to her current post as Vicar of St Peter’s Church, St Albans in St Albans diocese in 2010.

Anne is married to Steve, who is a researcher and trainer in mission and culture, and a part-time tutor for Church Army. Her interests include theatre and the arts, the environment, the history of Christian spirituality and contemplative prayer. She enjoys travel, fell-walking, and real ale pubs.

Birmingham diocesan wesbite ​The Revd Anne Hollinghurst announced as next Bishop of Aston

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope

I wrote here about the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, and the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now written an analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church: Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope.

General Synod will be holding two debates on some of these issues on the last day of next month’s group of sessions (Monday 13 July). The two motions are copied below the fold. The day will start with private group work on the environment. These are the papers issued to members:

Group Work Bible Study Material on Environment
GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [item 25]
GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [item 26]
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
[These last diocesan synod motions are not being debated, but the papers are provided as background information.]

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE: THE PARIS SUMMIT AND THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH (GS 2003)
The Bishop of Salisbury (Chair of the Environment Working Group) to move:
25 ‘That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 20C [sic - should be 2°C], as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:
(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;
(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options;
(c) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;
(d) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-service training to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and
(e) encourage parishes and dioceses to encourage prayer and fasting for climate justice on the first day of each month.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND INVESTMENT POLICY (GS 2004)
The Bishop of Manchester to move:
26 ‘That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:
(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);
(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;
(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change; and
(d) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.’

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Ruth Worsley to be Suffragan Bishop of Taunton

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Taunton: Ruth Worsley
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 30 June 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley, Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury, to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Maurice MA on his resignation on 30 April 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Ruth Worsley was educated at the University of Manchester and trained for the ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham. She served her title at Basford with Hyson Green, in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and was ordained priest in 1997. She continued as curate of Hyson Green with Forest Fields and became Priest in Charge there in 2001.

From 2006 to 2008 she served as Area Dean in North Nottingham before becoming half-time Area Dean of Nottingham South and half-time Priest in Charge of Sneinton St Christopher with St Philip in 2008. From 2007 to 2010 she also served as Dean of Women’s Ministry and Honorary Canon of Southwell Minster.

In 2010 she became Parish Development Officer in the diocese of Southwark, before taking up her current role as Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury in 2013. She has been Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen since 2009.

Mrs Worsley is married to Howard, Vice-Principal of Trinity College, Bristol. They have three adult sons, Nathanael, Jonathan and Ben and a very new daughter-in-law, Danielle. Ruth’s interests include walking and sailing (though she doesn’t like getting wet!), reading novels, playing the saxophone badly and singing, a little better.

Bath & Wells diocesan website Archdeacon Ruth Worsley announced as next Bishop of Taunton
Salisbury diocesan website Wilts Archdeacon to be New Bishop of Taunton

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Archbishop of York responds to statements by Hull vicar

This evening the Archbishop of York issued this statement.

Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people…

The full text is reproduced below the fold.

Although not mentioned in the statement, it is clear that this is the archbishop’s response to some remarks made by a priest of the York diocese in a radio interview, and then reported in the national press recently, see here:

Minster FM LISTEN: Anger at Vicar’s Comments about York Pride and Paedophiles

Guardian Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

Telegraph Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia

Hull Daily Mail Hull vicar Melvin Tinker compares homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

BBC Hull vicar attacks York Gay Pride march blessing

Independent Hull vicar compares homosexuality to paedophilia

Express Vicar slammed for comparing homosexuality to paedophilia after criticising senior clergyman who blessed Pride march

Statement from the Archbishop of York

Monday 22nd June 2015

The Archbishop of York has today issued this statement:

“Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people.

The 2005 Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué said:

“We….make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

I give the same assurance to homosexual people in York and across the Diocese that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

In 1991, whilst reaffirming a traditional view of human sexuality, the House of Bishops Report, ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ stressed that “there should be an open and welcoming place in the Christian Community” for homosexual people.

The Lambeth 1:10 Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference also said:

“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

In the Diocese of York in 2009 we engaged in this “listening process” and engaged in shared conversation on these matters within the Diocese.

Last week The Dean of York, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, spoke last about the York Pride march due to commence on the steps of York Minster last Saturday. She said:

“As in previous years, York Pride will begin its parade from outside the West End of York Minster and for the second year running we are joining other groups in the City of York in showing our support for a section of the community that frequently experiences discrimination and hostility.

“York Minster’s invitation to everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work is extended to the entire community both inside and outside of the Minster. The Church of England is actively encouraging conversations around human sexuality and it is better to have those conversations with friends.”

On Saturday 20th June, Canon Michael Smith, addressed marchers who had gathered on the steps of the Minster:

“My name is Michael Smith and I am the Canon Pastor here at York Minster. Once again I am delighted, on behalf of the Dean and the Minster community, to be able to say a few words and to wish you well for your parade to the Knavesmire and for the rest of your day’s activities and fun.

Our Mission statement here states that ‘York Minster invites everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work’. I would like to thank those who have organised this event for this invitation to speak which gives me the opportunity to tell you that our welcome at York Minster is completely and unreservedly inclusive.

Here at York Minster we are always open to having conversations with anyone who wants to come and talk with us and we are always ready to pray with and to pray for people at important times in their lives. Please do not hesitate to come and talk to us.”

He also offered the following prayer:

“Loving God, we give thank that the rainbow is a sign of your promise to love, care for and protect your creation and all your people. We pray for all who will share in this parade today and all who will watch it pass by. May all involved be reminded of your promise of love, care and protection, and of your big and generous heart where there is space for everyone. We offer our prayers and our thanksgivings in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Go on your way in peace. Grow in friendship with God, grow in friendship with your neighbours and follow the way of Jesus who reveals God’s love for all people and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you, those you love and those you pray for today and always. Amen”

The Church of England is currently engaged in a series of national conversations around different views of human sexuality. From time to time strident views will be expressed. Stridency is no substitute for love.

Where injury has been caused, natural justice requires that the Church of England’s processes are properly followed, so that grievances may be resolved Christianly and in an orderly manner, as befits the Body of Christ. As St Paul writes in his Epistle to the Ephesians:

“I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4.1-2.

+Sentamu Eboracensis 22nd June 2015

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Friday, 19 June 2015

July General Synod - online papers

Updated to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-13 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.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers
[Note: The zip files do not contain the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report and the Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report.]

GS 1928A and GS 1928C - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England [Sunday]

GS 1952B - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Saturday]
GS 1953B - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Saturday]
GS 1952-3Z - Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]
GS 1953C - Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1958B - Christian Initiation: Additional Text for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language [Sunday]
GS 1958X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964D - Amending Canon No.35 [Friday]

GS 1969A - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]

GS 1986A - The Church: Towards a Common Vision [Saturday]
[The Church: Towards a Common Vision is online here.]

GS 1987 - Agenda

GS 1988 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1989 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1990 - Appointment of the Secretary General [Friday]

GS 1991 - Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Friday]

GS 1992 - Administration of Holy Communion Regulations [Friday]
GS 1992X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1993 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1993X - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1994 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1994X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1995 - Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1995X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1996 - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1996X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1997 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1997X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1998 - Single Transferable Vote (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1998X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1999A and GS 1999B - Private Members’ Motion: Senior Leadership [Saturday]

GS 2000 - Consolidated Texts of the Standing Order [Friday]

GS 2001 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2002 - The Archbishops’ Council Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2016 [Monday]

GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [Monday]

GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [Monday]

Other papers

Church Commissioners Annual Report and Accounts 2014 [Saturday]

GS Misc 1104 - Liturgical Commission End of Quinquennium Report
GS Misc 1105 - Evangelism Task Group Update
GS Misc 1106 - Report of the Clergy Discipline Commission
GS Misc 1107 - EIAG Annual Report
GS Misc 1108 - CMEAC presention
GS Misc 1109 - National Society: Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships [item 24]
GS Misc 1110 - Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investing Bodies [item 6]
GS Misc 1111 - Summary of Decisions Done (2010 - 2015)
GS Misc 1112 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1115 - Update on Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1116 - Reform and Renewal update
GS Misc 1117 - Changing the Culture report from the BC
GS Misc 1118 - Joint Covenant and Monitoring Group
GS Misc 1119 - Membership of Boards, Councils and Committees
GS Misc 1120 - Summary of Decisions from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1121 - Appointment of the Synod Chaplain

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General Synod agenda published

Updated

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s four day meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.

Agenda for July 2015 group of sessions of the General Synod
19 June 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five [sic] day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 10th July until 6.00 pm on Monday 13th July. This will be the final meeting of the current Synod before the elections for the new General Synod which will take place over the summer and early autumn.

The Agenda for the July meeting is published today. As this Synodical term draws to a close, there will be a substantial amount of legislative business which will need to be concluded before the current Synod is dissolved. There will be a series of items of Environmental Business focusing on the forthcoming Paris Summit and the investment policies of the Church Commissioners and other church investment bodies. There will also be a number of opportunities, both in formal business and fringe meetings for Synod members to engage further with the reform and renewal programme, which was debated at length during the Synod in July and is currently the subject of widespread consultation around the church.

On the afternoon of Friday 10 July, there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. There will also be a presentation followed by a Question and Answer session from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies.

On Saturday 11 July there will be a sequence of legislative business, including the Final Approval of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which will strengthen the Church’s legal framework in relation to safeguarding and make its disciplinary processes more effective where safeguarding issues arise. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

In addition to the items of legislative business already mentioned, the Synod will be considering new Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, an order giving PCCs greater freedom to dispose of property without the need for diocesan consent an amendment to the Clergy Terms of Service Regulations arising out of one of the recommendations of the Simplification Task Group, new regulations to allow the administration of Holy Communion by children.

On the Saturday afternoon, the Synod will be debating a Private Member’s Motion on Senior Leadership arising out of the recent Faith and Order Commission publication on this topic. The Synod will also be responding formally to a report by the World Council of Churches entitled The Church: Towards a Common Vision.

On Sunday 12 July the Synod will be debating the proposed Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language. There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield (now part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) on the Nature and Structure of the Church of England. This will be followed by a presentation from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) on progress made over the last four years in encouraging MEA participation in the work and ministry of the Church.

The final day of Synod in this Synodical period will be devoted to two motions on environmental issues. The first looks ahead to the Paris Summit and the Church’s response to it. The second concerns the new investment policy unveiled by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Synod will conclude this current term with a service of Holy Communion. The new Synod will reconvene for its inaugural meeting after the elections on 24 November.

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

Update

Madeleine Davies of Church Times was at today’s press briefing: Environment is top of General Synod agenda in York.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 June 2015 at 12:31pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Nottingham Tribunal: Judge calls it a "busted flush"

Updated again Sunday

This case continues to yield amazing quotations.

Two more reports just in:

Nottingham Post Bishop made ‘personal decision’ to deny license to Nottinghamshire priest in same-sex marriage

…When pressed on what damage Canon Pemberton’s appointment would have caused, Rev Inwood said: “There would be no harm to the trust in granting the license and no harm to the church.”

Employment Judge Peter Britton said the bishop’s decision highlighted an “innate conundrum” for the church and questioned how something that is not harmful to the church can be so fundamental to the doctrine as to cause the license to be denied.

He said: “This is a busted flush isn’t it?”

In response Rev Inwood said: “I think put like that I would agree with you Sir.”

Press Association via the Guardian Recruiting married gay priest would not have harmed church, bishop admits

…Inwood was asked by Sean Jones QC, acting for Pemberton, what harm he thought it would do the Church of England to have granted a licence to allow the 59-year-old to be appointed as chaplain. “We know that Canon Pemberton wanted to join. In your view he was perfectly capable, you had no reason to believe he wasn’t. He was the trust’s preferred candidate, and that when you refused the licence, at very least, the man responsible for making recommendations to the trust was anxious to get you to think again. We know the House of Bishops guidance did not require you not to grant. And you say you took the decision. What was it you feared would happen?
What harm would arise if you gave Canon Pemberton the licence?”

Inwood replied: “It is not a matter of danger but by my own oath of honour and obedience, under authority, to maintain the doctrine of the church.
It’s my own personal decision.”

Jones asked: “You weren’t anticipating any harm, whether to him, to you, or the trust? The bishop replied: “Certainly no harm to the trust or the church.”

The tribunal judge, Peter Britton, picking up on this answer, suggested it left him with a conundrum. He asked the bishop: “If it would be no harm to the church, and the doctrine is about protecting the beliefs of the church, then haven’t you got an innate conundrum? If it so fundamental to the doctrine, thus the breach would cause harm. But if you think it is of no harm to the church surely that means the reliance on this being fundamentally doctrinal, as to otherwise bring down harm on the church, is a busted flush isn’t it?

Inwood agreed but later added that he would have felt granting the licence would have been incompatible with guidance issued by the Church of England’s bishops in March 2014…

Update

Ian Paul has this further analysis: Is wrong doctrine harmful?

The Church Times carries this report in its online edition: Same-sex marriage ‘certainly irregular’, Inwood tells tribunal

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Faith leaders declaration on climate change

Faith leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a declaration on climate change late on Tuesday.

Archbishop of Canterbury join faith leaders in call for urgent action to tackle climate change
16 June 2015

Faith leaders in Britain have pledged to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the newly-launched Lambeth Declaration, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy…

The text of the declaration is copied below the fold.

The declaration was launched at a service in St Margaret’s, Westminster, yesterday. Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, preached this sermon.

There was also a mass climate change lobby outside parliament.

Emma Howard The Guardian Thousands join mass climate change lobby outside UK parliament
Adam Vaughan The Guardian Thousands gather in London to lobby their MPs over climate change – as it happened
Jo Siedlecka Independent Catholic News Thousands lobby Parliament for action on climate change

Comment includes:

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change
David Atkinson Fulcrum Climate change and the churches

Today Pope Francis has issued an encyclical letter: Laudato Si’ on care of our common home. The Church of England has welcomed the Pope’s encyclical.

Lambeth Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

As leaders of the faith communities we recognise the urgent need for action on climate change.

From the perspective of our different faiths we see the earth as a beautiful gift. We are all called to care for the earth and have a responsibility to live creatively and sustainably in a world of finite resources.

Climate change is already disproportionately affecting the poorest in the world. The demands of justice as well as of creation require the nations of the world urgently to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2oC, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun. We have a responsibility to act now, for ourselves, our neighbours and for future generations.

The scale of change needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy is considerable and the task urgent. We need to apply the best of our intellectual, economic and political resources. Spirituality is a powerful agent of change. Faith has a crucial role to play in resourcing both individual and collective change.

We call on our faith communities to:

Recognise the urgency of the tasks involved in making the transition to a low carbon economy.

Develop the spiritual and theological resources that will strengthen us individually and together in our care of the earth, each other and future generations.

Encourage and pray for those engaged in the intellectual, economic, political and spiritual effort needed to address this crisis.

Work with our communities and partners in the UK and internationally to mitigate the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world;

Build on the examples of local and international action to live and to work together sustainably,

Redouble our efforts to reduce emissions that result from our own institutional and individual activities.

As representatives of the vast numbers of people of faith across the globe we urge our Government to use their influence to achieve a legally-binding commitment at the international Climate Change talks in Paris, and with the continuing programme beyond. Through our various traditions we bring our prayers for the success of the negotiations.

We call with humility, with a determination enlivened by our faith and with awareness of the need for courage, justice and hope. We are faced with a huge challenge. But we are hopeful that the necessary changes can be made - for the sake of all who share this world today - and those who will share it tomorrow.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 11:24am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Paul Slater to be Bishop of Richmond

Press release from Number 10.

Suffragan See of Richmond: Paul Slater

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 18 June 2015

The Venerable Paul Slater is appointed as Her Majesty’s [sic] Suffragan See of Richmond for the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Paul Slater, Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, to the Suffragan See of Richmond also in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Paul Slater studied at Corpus Christi, Oxford and trained for the Ordained Ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He was ordained Deacon in 1984 and served his title in the diocese of Bradford. He became Priest-in-Charge of Cullingworth in 1988, before taking on the role of Chaplain to the Bishop of Bradford n 1993. Paul Slater returned to parish ministry to serve as Rector of Haworth in 1995, before being appointed as Bishop’s Officer for Ministry and Mission in the Diocese of Bradford in 2001. He took up the role of Archdeacon of Craven in 2005, where he served until taking up the role of Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales in 2014.

He is married to Beverley, a manager in the NHS leading service improvement, and they have two grown up sons. His interests include tennis, cricket, cooking and workplace mediation.

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has written about the appointment.

A new Bishop of Richmond

It has been announced this morning that the Venerable Paul Slater, currently Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, is to be the Bishop of Richmond in the Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales).

Paul has served his entire ministry in West Yorkshire, knows the territory better than anyone, and has walked (at some cost) the journey of transition from three historic dioceses into the one we now have.

Why Richmond? Well, we argued throughout the process for creating the new diocese that the diocesan bishop should not have responsibility for creating and running an episcopal area (of which we have five). We lost the argument. However, the experience of the last year has proved us right. The quickest and easiest way to add capacity was to revive the dormant See of Richmond and appoint a suffragan bishop to it. However, based in Leeds, the new bishop will essentially cover the Leeds Episcopal Area, setting me free (as diocesan bishop) to attend in more detail to the diocesan creation and transformation.

Paul will hit the ground running – a key criterion for this post. He will need no induction into the diocese, the journey we are on, the challenges we face, or the structures we are creating/transitioning.

For the record, I looked at four people: two women and two men. Paul was unanimously approved by the advisory group that interviewed him. I am delighted with his appointment and look forward to what lies ahead.

The diocesan website has Archdeacon Paul Slater to be new Bishop of Richmond. This notes that “Paul Slater will be consecrated as Bishop of Richmond at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 19 July at 4pm.”

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Reactions to Bishop Richard Inwood's criticism of same-sex marriage

Updated 9 pm

The Nottingham tribunal took a new, and nasty turn, today, when Bishop Richard Inwood reportedly expressed his opinion that same-sex marriages were “sinful” and “unwholesome”.

This immediately provoked a very strong reaction in social media, and both Changing Attitude and LGCM have published responses to it:

  • LGCM Tracey Byrne Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement comments on damaging comments from Bishop Richard Inwood in Canon Jeremy Pemberton tribunal

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) commented:

“As the Tribunal deciding the fate of Canon Jeremy Pemberton continues, we, as Christians and members of the LGBTI community, would like to express our undivided support to Jeremy. This support goes alongside our absolute disgust at the comments made today by Bishop Richard Inwood. No life-long, faithful, stable relationship – be it gay or straight – should be described in these terms. It’s not fair, not right and not Christian. Today’s comments from the Bishop, in which he described same-sex marriage as sinful and unwholesome, are harmful for the Church of England and its relationship with the LGBTI community. We believe an urgent response to these comments is needed from the Archbishops.”

Curiously, this happened just before the Church of England website published this Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal.

Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal
17 June 2015
“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and receive that support. The Church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversations about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Update

The Communications Unit at Church House Westminster has now issued this partial unofficial record of today’s hearing. Worth reading all the way through. And now copied in full below the fold.

There are two media reports:

Nottingham Post Former bishop prayed for priest after revoking his licence due to same sex marriage

Press Association via the Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘passed the buck over gay priest’s wedding’

And now also
Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urged clerics to stick to ‘line’ over rebel priest’s gay wedding

From the Church of England Communications Unit

Employment Tribunal

Following comments on social media concerning the evidence of Bishop Richard Inwood at the Nottingham employment tribunal, the following is a record of the relevant cross examination between Sean Jones, counsel for Jeremy Pemberton and Richard Inwood which took place on Wednesday 7 June.

Sean Jones: Does the Church recognise Canon Pemberton as being married

Bishop Inwood: Yes because it’s the law of the land.

Sean Jones: Just so I’m clear about the scope of the doctrine of the Church, does the Church consider that entering into a same sex marriage is a sinful act?

Bishop Inwood: I think at this point, because the Church has not changed its canons or legislation, it is certainly irregular and some may say it is sinful yes.

Sean Jones: And they would say Canon Pemberton should be asking God’s forgiveness for his marriage?

Bishop Inwood: I can’t say what they’d say, I don’t know

Sean Jones: If someone is living in sin, then they need God’s forgiveness. Doesn’t that seem clear?

Bishop Inwood: Yes

Sean Jones: How would the Church expect him to repent?

Bishop Inwood: I’m unclear what you’re asking about. Are you asking about individual views? Some people might think that it’s sinful and think he needs to repent.

Sean Jones: Do you think it’s sinful?

Bishop Inwood: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I’m not a judge of what is sinful in the sense that I would claim to understand the mind of God. We are currently engaged in discussion to see what the mind of God might be. It may be that there would be a change on the Church’s position in which case same sex marriage would not be a problem.

Sean Jones: So whether you think it’s sinful depends on the process.

Bishop Inwood: I am open to changing my mind if we got to that point.

Sean Jones: What’s your present mind?

Bishop Inwood: My mind is that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t think it is part of the beliefs of the Church to enter into a same sex marriage.

Sean Jones: So is entering into same sex marriage sinful?

Bishop Inwood: The word sinful is such a difficult one to deal with really. Part of me wants to say yes because I think it’s against the Church, but part of me says no because Canon Pemberton entered into it with the view to it being wholesome.

Sean Jones: So you think the intention was wholesome?

Bishop Inwood: Yes, but I think the timing was wrong

Sean Jones: Do you think they got it wrong and entered into an unwholesome marriage?

Bishop Inwood: Yes because I think Canon Pemberton ought to have had regard to the teaching of the Church and held off on his marriage at this particular point and had regard to the Church’s teachings.

Sean Jones: One last question on this. So we’re clear, in your view would getting divorced now solve the problem or make it worse?

Bishop Inwood: That would make it worse.

Sean Jones: So it’s better that he remains married than divorced.

Bishop Inwood: Yes.

Sean Jones: Thank you.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Same-sex Marriage and CofE Clergy

Updated yet again Wednesday afternoon

The BBC reports on the employment tribunal case that is being heard this week in Nottingham: Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton in Church discrimination tribunal.

A clergyman barred from working because he married his partner has denied going against the Church’s teachings, an employment tribunal heard.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.
He brought a discrimination case which started on Monday.
The Rt Revd Richard Inwood argued the marriage was against the Church of England’s teachings.
Although Mr Pemberton was employed by the NHS, he needed a licence from the diocese to work at King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield which was refused.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton was appointed Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but the Church declined a licence.
At the opening of the hearing at Nottingham Justice Centre earlier, his lawyer said “equality has reached the door of the church. Where that boundary lies is for you to decide”.
Lawyers representing the Church suggested that Mr Pemberton had gone against the Church’s teachings.
He replied: “No, because I have had a civil marriage. I believe that was the moral thing to do…”

Also at the BBC Caroline Wyatt has this which includes a 2 minute video report. She interviews Malcolm Brown and Andrew Symes as well as Peter Tatchell.

Earlier, she published this detailed analysis of the case: Will the Church ever accept same-sex marriage? which should be read in full. Here is an excerpt:

…The Church acknowledged that its teachings now diverged for the first time from the general understanding and definition of marriage by Parliament.
However, the Church of England says that it nonetheless values theological debate, and allows clergy to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while making clear that they should not marry someone of the same sex.
At the same time, it has no wish to be seen as homophobic, and has also issued guidance to say that the Church welcomes gay and lesbian clergy and laity and considers homophobia unacceptable.
But can it hold those two positions at the same time for much longer, especially as social mores around the Church continue to change rapidly, with younger generations in the UK far more likely than their elders to accept same-sex marriage as a given?
The Church may well see its position in this case as clear: that those who serve as clergy must live up to all the teachings of the Church, whether they agree with them or not.
However, campaigners for change in its current position on same-sex marriage will argue with equal vigour that the Church’s doctrine has adapted in the past to accommodate changing social mores, and - if it wanted to - the Church of England could do so again.

Other media reports so far:

Updates

Nottingham Post Tribunal hears first day of gay clergyman discrimination case

…Today, Thomas Linden, representing the respondent, cross-examined Pemberton on a several issues including his claim for harassment, the background prior to the wedding as well as the ‘media storm’ that followed his marriage.

At one point Pemberton broke down in tears in front of the tribunal as he recounted how he felt after his PTO was revoked.

He said: “PTOs are (only) really revoked if someone has done something serious, they’re criminally involved, is involved in an affair or has lost their capacity.”

Mr Linden, representing the church claimed that following the revocation, Pemberton could have continued to perform for the choir and carry on in parish life.

Pemberton replied: “Not as a priest.”

Pemberton also defended claims he was ‘surprised’ by the publicity he received on his wedding day and in the weeks that followed.

A spokesman for the C of E said: “The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and received that support.

“The Church of England has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

“The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy not have the option of treating the teachings of the Church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

“The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversation about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Both the Telegraph and the Guardian have reports on Tuesday morning:

And here are two reports of what happened on the second day of the hearing:

Update Wednesday afternoon

The following has now appeared on the Church of England website: Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal. This appears to be the same statement quoted in several media reports yesterday, and not related directly to the developments in the case at today’s hearing.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 1:47pm BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Religion and Belief in Schools

Updated

The Westminster Faith Debates today release A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools by Charles Clarke, the former education secretary, and Linda Woodhead, professor of sociology of religion at Lancaster University.

Press reports include:

Barney Thompson Financial Times Call to overhaul religious education in schools

Richard Garner Independent Schools told to end religious instruction and teach morality instead

Press Association in The Guardian Scrap compulsory worship in schools, says former education secretary
The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on religious education in schools: don’t trash it, transform it

Javier Espinoza Telegraph It’s time to end compulsory daily worship in schools, says Clarke

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Abolish religious assemblies in schools, says new report

Sean Coughlan BBC News Call to end compulsory worship in schools

Charles Clarke was interviewed on the BBC Radio4 Today programme this morning, starting at 02hr 54min.

The Church of England has issued this Statement on RE and collective worship, apparently in response to the paper, although since it fails to mention either the pamphlet or its authors it could be a complete coincidence.

Update

Rev Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer RE must not be downgraded

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 11:37am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Bishop of Horsham resigns from SSWSH

Updated again Friday

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has issued this announcement:

The Bishop of Horsham

Statement by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society

It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham’s resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society. I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others.

Part of The Society’s purpose is to continue within the Church of England a tradition of sacramental theology and ministry that accords with the mind and practice of the great churches of East and West. We see this as our contribution both to the breadth and diversity of the Church of England and to the quest for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.

As a member of the Council of Bishops, the Bishop of Chichester will continue to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration to the clergy and people of The Society in his diocese.

We send Bishop Mark our good wishes for his future ministry.

+TONY WAKEFIELD
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman

This has been reported in the local Sussex press with a more tendentious headline: Horsham Bishop will support women bishops in shock shift in theology

The Bishop of Horsham announced today (June 10) that he has stepped down from a traditionalists’ committee following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.

The Rt Rev Mark Sowerby has resigned from the Society’s Council of Bishops, which has long held the thinking that women should not be ordained as priests, deacons and bishops in the Church of England.

He said today that he now wishes to accept women into all these roles….

Update
The Chichester diocesan website now has Bishop of Horsham – Resignation as a member of the Society’s Council of Bishops

…The Bishop of Chichester said today: “Bishop Mark’s shift in theological outlook on the ordination of women priests and bishops is a costly one. All who know and respect him will understand the serious struggle with conscience that will have led to his decision. We respect his honesty and applaud his courage. For some of those he serves it will be a development that they cannot follow, and that will be painful; for others, this news will be greeted with relief and considerable rejoicing.

Bishop Mark will continue to minister in the diocese as suffragan bishop of Horsham. Traditionalists who have looked to him for sacramental ministry will still have available to them the pastoral care and oversight of the diocesan bishop.

Future arrangements for the oversight of ordination in this diocese had already been agreed, prior to Bishop Mark’s decision. All ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood will take place in the Cathedral; all three bishops will participate in the ordinations, in ways that respect the theological conscience of those present. This will follow the precedent set by the Archbishop of York in the arrangements for the episcopal ordination of Libby Lane as bishop of Stockport and Philip North as bishop of Burnley.

Bishop Martin concluded: “Within the household of faith, we are committed to the trust and respect for theological conscience that undergirds the Five Guiding Principles of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. We seek the greatest degree of communion possible in our apostolic life of faith, of hope and of love. We ask for God’s continued blessing on Bishop Mark in proclaiming and nurturing the call to know, love, follow Jesus.”

The Church Times carries a report, Another woman bishop appointed, as Horsham changes his view, which includes quotes from Bishop Mark’s letter to Bishop Tony.

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CofE Announces new Secretary General

The Archbishops’ Council has announced that William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England

CofE Announces new Secretary General
10 June 2015

The Archbishops’ Council are delighted to announce William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England. He will succeed William Fittall who is retiring at the end of November after thirteen years in this post.

William Nye was selected unanimously by a panel comprising both Archbishops, seven other members of the Council (including two officers of the General Synod) and the Chair of the Appointments Committee. The recommendation of the panel was unanimously endorsed by a meeting of the full Council in May 2015.

William Nye brings 25 years of experience from the Civil Service and Whitehall. His roles and departments have included National Security at the Cabinet Office, Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defence at HM Treasury and Arts at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

For the last four years he has worked as the Principal Private Secretary to Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall where he has led on matters of significant public sensitivity and organisational effectiveness.

Mr. Nye, 49, is a long serving and active member of the Church of England where he has served as a PCC member for nearly 20 years and a Churchwarden for around 10 years. He has also served as a Deanery Synod representative.

The selection process for the new Secretary General was both extensive and thorough. A wide selection of candidates from inside and outside the Church was sought and a field of around 30 candidates was attracted. The Council was supported in its search by a leading recruitment agency.

The Shortlist comprised 5 applicants drawn from public, private and third sectors. There were many strong applications, in the end the panel selected the candidate who was best able to fulfil the broad scope of the role and would be best able to serve in the priority areas.

In his interviews William Nye demonstrated great commitment to the vision of a Church which will support future generations. He brought great insight and demonstrated great sensitivity to the needs of the dioceses. He impressed the panel with his understanding of the challenges that the church faces and the depth of thinking as to how those challenges can be met and opportunities exploited. William pointed out that after 25 years of public service he wishes now to help the Church to thrive on behalf of the whole of our country.

William Nye is due to start work at Church House at the beginning of November in preparation for taking up his new responsibilities on 1 December. Under Standing Order 123 of the Synod’s Standing Orders, the person appointed by the Archbishops’ Council as its Secretary General is also, subject to the approval of the Synod, Secretary General of the Synod. In accordance with the Standing Order that approval will be deemed to be given unless, by midnight on Wednesday 24 June 40 or more members have given notice to the Clerk of the Synod in accordance with Standing Order 12 that they wish the appointment to be debated by the Synod.

William Nye - Biographical details

Mr Nye was born in 1966 and educated at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham. He has a BA in Economics from Cambridge University and an MA in Economics from Yale University, in the United States.

He joined the Civil Service after university, starting in the Treasury. His subsequent senior appointments include:

1998-2000: Head of Arts policy at the Department of Culture Media and Sport
2001-2002: Head of Defence, Diplomacy and Intelligence at the Treasury
2002-2005: Director of Performance and Finance at the Home Office
2005-2007: Director of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence at the Home Office
2007-2008: Director, Law, Security and International at the Home Office
2008-2011: Director in the National Security Secretariat at the Cabinet Office
2011-2015: Principal Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 10:38am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

I reported here on the Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure that was issued last week.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now reviewed the paper here: CofE: a quasi-consultation on quasi-law?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 9:41am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Suffragan Bishop of Crediton: Sarah Elisabeth Mullally

Updated

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Crediton: Sarah Elisabeth Mullally

From:Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 June 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Reverend Canon Sarah Elisabeth Mullally to the Suffragan See of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Sarah Elisabeth Mullally, DBE, MA, MSc, BSc, RGN, DSc honoris causa Canon Residentairy and Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral in the Diocese of Salisbury, to the Suffragan See of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel, MA, on his translation to the See of Plymouth on 19 April 2015.

Notes for editors
The Reverend Canon Dame Sarah Mullally (aged 53) studied first at South Bank University for her BSc followed by a MSc and then at Heythrop College, University of London where she got her MA. She was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Science from Bournemouth University, (2004), University of Wolverhampton (2004) and University of Hertfordshire (2005) and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2005 for her contribution to nursing and midwifery. She is a late ordinand who before ordination was Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health. She trained for the ministry at the South East Institute for Theologian Education and served her first curacy at Battersea Fields in Southwark Diocese from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2012 she was Team Rector at Sutton in Southwark Diocese. Since 2012 she has been Canon Residentiary and Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral.

Dame Sarah Mullally is married to Eamonn and they have 2 children. She has continued her interest in the health service, having been a non executive director at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and then at Salisbury NHS Foundation Hospital. She is a novice potter.

Update

The Exeter diocesan website has this news item New Bishop of Crediton to be Dame Sarah Mullally. This states that she will be consecrated at the same service as Rachel Treweek, ie on 22 July 2015.

The Salisbury diocesan website has Canon Chancellor Announced as Bishop.

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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

Press release from the Church of England

Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure
04 June 2015

House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests
Consultation Paper on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

The Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, appointed to consider grievances and concerns relating to the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests has issued a consultation paper on the working of the disputes resolution procedure. The paper sets out how Sir Philip intends to implement the new procedure.

The consultation paper is available here.

The closing date for comments is 4 September 2015

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

God - he or she?

Updated

How to refer to God - male, female, both or neither - has become a hot topic in the media in the last few days, as the long list below testifies. It appears to have started with this article (behind the paywall) by Nicholas Hellen, the Social Affairs Editor of the Sunday Times: Women clergy pray God gets a feminine touch. John Bingham and others then took it up.

Bingham and others refer to a public call by the Transformations Steering Group to the bishops to encourage more “expansive language and imagery about God”. The phrase comes from this document, issued in 2011 and presented to the bishops in 2012.

John Bingham Telegraph Calls to refer to God as a woman as female bishops take up posts

Ian Johnston Independent Female clergy propose referring to God as ‘She’ to counter idea only men are made in his image

Amelia Butterly BBC God is neither ‘she’ nor ‘he’ say Anglican priests

Nadia Khomami The Guardian Let God be a ‘she’, says Church of England women’s group

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today ‘Jesa Christa’: God is female too, say Church of England campaigners

Claire Elliot Daily Mail Our Mother who art in heaven: Group of Church women want to refer to God as a ‘She’ to combat sexism

Archdruid Eileen Should God be referred to as a Woman?

Kate Bottley The Guardian Is God a woman? To ask the question is to miss the point

Sally Hitchiner Telegraph Is God a man or a woman?

Jemima Thackray Telegraph Imagining God as a woman? That’s like farting against thunder

Telegraph leader Of course God is a woman

Carey Lodge Christian Today Is it wrong to refer to God in the female?

The Guardian Pass Notes Praise her, praise her: should we refer to God as a woman?

Damian Thompson Daily Mail No, God ISN’T male. But calling Him a ‘She’ is unholy twaddle

Updates

The media interest was prompted by remarks made at last week’s Westminster Faith Debate on Women Bishops - what difference does it make? including Hilary Cotton’s address at Westminster Faith Debate on gender justice and the church.

Andrew Lightbown Gender, Jesus and Identity; some ‘what ifs….’

Ian Paul Can we address God as ‘She’?

Daily Mail If God were a woman: As Church feminists say God is a ‘She’, some of our wittiest and wisest writers imagine the world with a higher female power at the helm

Archbishop Cranmer Against heresy: if Jesus called God ‘Father’, who are we to conflate him with Mary?

Jonathan Clatworthy God’s genitalia

Emma Percy answers questions from Premier Christianity: Why I believe God should be referred to as ‘she’.

Madeleine Davies Church Times WATCH reignites debate on gender language and God

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Friday, 29 May 2015

Vicar declines to baptise child of unmarried parents

Updated yet again 2 June

The Vicar of St. John’s Church, Dukinfield, in the Diocese of Chester, has declined to baptise a baby, unless the parents agreed to get married first.

The story is reported in two national newspapers:

And in one local newspaper:

Manchester Evening News Vicar refuses to baptise child because his parents are not married

The Church of England website page Christening FAQs says

…Can anyone have a Christening service?

Yes, so long as they have not been Baptized already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for Christenings - whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. You do not have to have been a regular churchgoer - as parents, you do not even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is something you are considering for your baby.

However, according to the Mail report, the diocese defended the vicar, thus:

A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester said: ‘Revd Tim Hayes would very much like to encourage the couple to take the Christian initiation of baptism very seriously.
‘At no point has he refused to baptise the child. The Church of England believes that the best place for a child grow is within marriage.
‘The vicar would be happy to help the couple be married and then to baptise their child at no financial cost to them – so that the best outcome can be achieved.
‘We hope the family will receive this offer warmly, but if they would rather not be married, then St John’s church, Dukinfield, will still be happy to offer them a service of thanksgiving.’

The text of Canon B 22 is as follows (thanks Mark B)

B 22 Of the baptism of infants

1. Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child is brought to the church to be baptized.

2. If the minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant, the parents or guardians may apply to the bishop of the diocese, who shall, after consultation with the minister, give such directions as he thinks fit.

3. The minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.

4. No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed.

Update

Christian Today has an article by Mark Woods who is a Baptist, entitled Infant baptism: Is it ever ok for the Church to turn parents away?
Mark incorrectly identifies the relevant diocese, which is, as noted above, Chester.

Update 2 June

Philip Jones has written a detailed legal analysis: Baptism and Godly Living.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 May 2015 at 2:21pm BST | Comments (57) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 May 2015

July 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Timetable

Friday 10 July

[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Opening worship
Formal business
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York

Business Committee Report

4.25 pm Approval of appointments

Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration

Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 11 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm

Legislative Business
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations

Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm

Farewell

Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership

Legislative Business
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]

Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
EITHER
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
OR
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Sunday 12 July

2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Liturgical Business
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval

Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)

Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate

Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Financial Business
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016

Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships

Monday 13 July

9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)

Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment

11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies

Farewells

BREAK

4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 21 May 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Government efficiency, transparency and accountability

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

Note for editors

Caroline Spelman has been the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. She is a former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a confirmed member of the Church of England.

The Second Commissioner is a Member of Parliament and answers to Parliament for the business of the Commissioners. Mrs Spelman succeeds Sir Tony Baldry, who did not stand for re-election in the recent general election.

There is a much longer press release from the Church Commissioners, which is copied below the fold.

The Church Commissioners welcome the announcement of Caroline Spelman as Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church Commissioners for England have today welcomed the Crown appointment of the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner, replacing the Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry.

The role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner is to provide a link between Government, Parliament and the established Church. The Second Church Estates Commissioner answers oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters in the House of Commons, is a member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee and steers Church of England legislation through the House of Commons. She is also an ex-officio member of the General Synod and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Board of Governors.

Welcoming Caroline Spelman’s appointment, Andrew Brown, Secretary Chairman to the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Caroline as the Second Church Estates Commissioner and look forward to working with her. Caroline has a strong commitment to the church and its mission to local communities. This is vital to the Church Commissioners as we carry out the work and mission of the Church of England.”

Commenting on her appointment Caroline Spelman, said: “I am honoured to be asked to undertake this role as the Church is important for the future of our country and I want to help it navigate the challenges of the modern world with the support of our parliamentarians.”

Caroline Spelman has held a number of leading parliamentary posts, including from 2010-12 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She has also been Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Shadow Minister for Women, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Shadow Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government. She has also been a member of a number of Parliamentary committees, including the Environmental Audit Select Committee and Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill. She has represented the Parliamentary constituency of Meriden since 1997, a West Midlands seat containing a wide socio-economic mix, which is in both the Birmingham and Coventry dioceses.

Caroline is a former agriculture specialist, holds a BA in European studies from Queen Mary College London, is Vice Chair of Tearfund and Patron of Welcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity.

A committed and lifelong Anglican, she worships at Knowle Parish Church in her Meriden constituency, has been a longstanding member of the Christians in Parliament all party group and joined the Ecclesiastical Committee in 2014. In March 2014 she initiated a House of Commons debate on the contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England.

Caroline likes choral singing and is chair of the Parliamentary Choir.

Background on Caroline Spelman:

Parliamentary Career
Elected MP, Meriden, 1997
Opposition Whip 1998-99;
Board member Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) 1997-2001;
Opposition Spokesperson for:
Health 1999-2001,
Women’s Issues 1999-2001;
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-03;
Shadow Minister for Women 2001-04;
Shadow Secretary of State for:
the Environment 2003-04,
Local and Devolved Government Affairs 2004-05,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government 2005-07, 2009-10;
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2010-12

Past Select committees
Member:
Science and Technology 1997-98,
Environmental Audit 2013-,
Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2014,
Ecclesiastical Committee 2014-

Further education
Queen Mary College, London (BA European studies 1980)

Ends

Notes to Editors:
The Church Commissioners for England
The Church Commissioners manage an investment fund of £6.7 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio, including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community. The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving the retired clergy

The Church Commissioners annual report can be viewed here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 May 2015 at 11:48am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act

The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.

The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is before 11 July, Rachel will fill the vacancy created by the Bishop of Leicester’s retirement and become the first female Lord Spiritual.

Bishop Tim’s retirement has another consequence as he has been the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual for the last six years. It was announced yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, to be the new convenor. The announcement includes this job description: “The Convenor ensures that the work of the Lords Spiritual is coordinated and supported and that the interests of the Bishops’ Bench are represented fully in and outside Parliament. The Convenor is the primary point of contact and liaison on behalf of the Bishops’ Bench for the party leaderships in the Lords, Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, officials and business managers.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 at 11:18am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 17 May 2015

More reactions to the Shared Conversations

Conversations have now taken place in three of the regions. Links to all the reactions so far can be found here and that article will be updated further as new ones appear.

Two of the new ones are especially noteworthy:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 7:38pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 May 2015

Church Commissioners' results 2014 - and the task groups

Updated

The Church Commissioners have released their Annual Report for 2014 today. There is also a press release, highlighting a “total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014”, and this is copied below the fold.

The report includes an overview from Andreas Whittam Smith, the First Church Estates Commissioner, which includes the following paragraphs on the Archbishops’ Task Groups.

LOOKING AHEAD

By coincidence, one of the factors that contributed to the Church Commissioners’ difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been the subject of lively discussion in recent months. I refer to the principle of inter-generational equity, which means that the Commissioners, advised by their actuaries, should only distribute such sums to their beneficiaries as will enable the value of the endowment to be maintained in real terms through time. This policy has been followed rigidly for more than 20 years.

Now Task Groups, set up by the Archbishops, have made ambitious proposals to equip the Church for the future. The Church Commissioners strongly welcome these initiatives. However, financing such plans would likely require the Commissioners to provide additional funds over and above their normal distributions.

The arguments in favour and against such a course were fully explored in a paper presented to General Synod in February 2015. A distinction was drawn between ‘bad’ over-distribution and ‘good’ over-distribution. The good version, which is now envisaged, is undertaken for a clear purpose, in response to plans that are evidence based, is fully costed and is entered into with the agreement and understanding of all parties and there are safeguards in place. It should be seen as an investment in the church to encourage growth. In addition a successful outcome would have, as a by-product, an increase in the Church’s financial strength.

Accordingly at General Synod in February, I moved a motion that invited members to ‘support the Commissioners’ in releasing additional funds to support changes to ‘equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission’. Large majorities approved the motion…

The paper referred to is GS 1981 Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity, and the motion carried by Synod was:

‘That this Synod,

welcoming GS 1981; and

noting that the funds of the Church Commissioners are a permanent endowment, held in perpetuity to support the Church of England as it seeks to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation,

support the Commissioners, in consultation with the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, giving consideration to the basis on which they might, for a limited period, release additional funds in order to support changes that will equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission and ministry over the coming generations.’

Barney Thompson has written about the report for The Financial Times: Church of England blessed by property boom.

Update

James Moore Independent Church to splash out on clergy as booming investments pass £6.7bn

Tim Wyatt Church Times Commissioners use shareholder clout to combat excessive pay deals

Church Commissioners announce total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014
15 May 2015

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their 2014 financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2014 was 14.4 per cent. The Commissioners exceeded their long-term target rate of RPI + 5 percentage points. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.8% per annum. After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £6.7billion at the end of 2014.

In 2014 the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was almost £215 million accounting for 16% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Independent research carried out at the end of 2014 suggested the Commissioners were one of the largest charitable givers in the UK and the eighth largest globally.* Commissioner funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

The Commissioners expended £123 million in supporting pensions for retired clergy.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “Through continued strong ethical and sustainable financial performance we help provide for the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church of England. We continue to identify and help fund the Church’s work and mission in communities throughout England.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support strategic mission activities like:

Supporting “Sensing Salvation” in Ely which works with two non-church schools running innovative arts projects

Providing funding in Bristol where Rachel Hepburn’s mission work is funded by a grant to act as a community line worker in a new housing development

Funding for the Burnside Youth and Community centre in Langley. A grant supports the work of the Children’s centre activities, running holiday play schemes and providing a safe, stimulating and positive environment judged to be Outstanding by OFSTED

Financial support of fresh expressions of Church such as the Holy Ground service at Exeter Cathedral

Growth and diversification:

Notable performance was delivered in property, private credit and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and totalled just under £2bn at the end of 2014 with an average return of 27%, predominantly from capital growth, including realised gains on sales.

The private credit portfolio which started in 2012 saw two new commitments in 2014 totalling £51million. In total these strategies generated a combined return of 10.2% in 2014.

The Church Commissioners, with the recent purchase of forests in Scotland and Wales, also became the largest private owner of forestry in the UK. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 22.3% in 2014.

Responsible investment:

The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2014 the Commissioners appointed Edward Mason as Head of Responsible Investment, underscoring their commitment to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

The Church Commissioners have just won the Best implementation of Responsible Investment category at the Portfolio Institutional Awards 2015 where they were praised for strategic engagement with companies, their record on sustainability and the integration of ESG into investment decision-making.

Notes to Editors:

The annual report can be accessed in full here.

The Church Commissioners have also published a 2014 Annual Review, sharing stories of support across the country for the Church of England’s mission and ministry. Case studies include funding for mission in new housing and other development areas, parish ministry and mission, and supporting major growth and change projects in Dioceses.
The annual review is available here.

The responsible investment review can be viewed at here.

Two films accompanying the release of the annual report - including an interview with Andrew Brown - can be viewed here and here.

In 2014 the Church Commissioners funded 28 projects from the £2.9m funding for developing Church growth in deprived areas. Sensing Salvation is one such example of an innovative arts project. In this blog the Revd Paul West talks about this innovative art project in the Ely diocese.

Further examples of funding provided by the Commissioners can be found in the Resourcing Mission Bulletins.

*City AM World Charity Index named the Church Commissioners as the eighth largest charitable donor globally and the second largest in the UK after the Wellcome Trust.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 15 May 2015 at 11:00am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 May 2015

CNC fails to fill Oxford vacancy

The Crown Nominations Commission held its second meeting to consider the vacancy in the see of Oxford on Monday and Tuesday of this week (11 and 12 May) but failed to make a decision. The Archbishop of Canterbury has today issued this statement:

From the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Oxford

Vacancy in the See of Oxford

An update from the Archbishop of Canterbury - Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission

You will be aware that the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) met on the 11th and 12th May to consider the nomination of the next Bishop of Oxford and to meet with possible candidates.

I am writing to advise that the Commission has been unable to discern the candidate whom God is calling at this stage to be the next Bishop of Oxford. Under the election rules under which we operate, in a secret ballot no candidate received the required number of votes for nomination.

Although the CNC has a number of meetings scheduled for later this year they are reserved for the consideration of other Dioceses. It is unfortunately impossible to add further demands on the time of the voluntary members of the CNC, who have their own jobs as well. The Oxford CNC will therefore reconvene on the 4th February 2016 with the second meeting on the 7th/8th March 2016. Bishop Colin will continue to provide oversight to the diocese as he has done over the past few months during the interregnum and I am very grateful to him for this.

Many of you will have had the CNC in your prayers and I thank you for them. I will continue to keep the diocese in my prayers over the next months. This will not be the news that you wanted to hear but please take this as a sign of the CNC’s commitment to finding the right person to be your next bishop.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Resourcing Ministerial Education: another chapter

Updated

Readers may recall this report: Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.

Today, Julian Hubbard, who is the Director of Ministry Division at the Archbishops’ Council, has published an article about the planned new programme of research in support of the programme for Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Read the article here: Developing strategic capacity for dioceses in ministerial education.

Read the more detailed paper submitted to the Ministry Council here: Developing Diocesan Strategic Capacity: Research Insight.

The covering note from Julian Hubbard concludes this way:

…The proposals are for long term research and are not about quick results. The RME work has made evident what many of us knew, that the church is changing rapidly and training needs are following suit. To capture this as well as doing justice to what we have inherited in terms of theological understanding of ministry takes time. We want to pursue the research collaboratively with dioceses and TEIs. An important part of the initial research was to ask for what research TEIs had already done and we want to continue that relationship in the next stages. This will be in conjunction with the theological conversation on expressing a theology of ministry which has begun between a group of bishops, theologians and theological educators which will come to fruition at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September 2015.

No doubt the commentary on the proposed research will raise again the question whether the current research findings are an adequate basis for proceeding with the proposals. I would suggest that those who ask that question actually look at what the proposals are: they do not favour any particular pathway on abstract or ideological grounds. They are appreciative of what each of the forms of training can offer and confident that they can all make a contribution. They allow the exercise of intelligent judgement about the needs of the individual candidate and the hopes and needs of the church in relation to them. The intelligence about such decisions will grow as the body of data and information develops through the research.

Staff at the Ministry Division look forward to supporting dioceses and TEIs in this process both through conducting the research and offering consultancy and advice about pathways and candidates. There is sufficient basis for moving forward to the next stage. The alternative of waiting ten or even five years so that we have a “final” view is not a reality: when would such a final view ever be achieved? And in the meantime, candidates are still subjected to a regime of regulations which are less and less applicable and might be wasting the valuable resource of their time, as well as money. And the urgency which is widely agreed as a necessary response to the situation of the Church of England is lost, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?

Update

The Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Ministry Council officers say quality research is lacking which includes this:

…The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, is among those who have expressed concern about the RME report (Letter, 27 March; News, 17 April). On Wednesday, he said that the admission of “several key limitations” was “very welcome indeed”. He said that the authors were “reluctant to acknowledge just how disabling the criticisms are for the overall strength of RME”.

He also questioned whether the new research proposed would solve the problems identified in the report: “The three core concepts they want to clarify are the nature of ministry, education, and the nature of contemporary society - vast and complex issues, indeed, which will not be decisively ‘clarified’ by the research they propose. . .

“What is necessary, first and foremost, is a vision of what theological education for the whole Church - for the whole people of God - ought to look like. The abiding impression that this document leaves, for all its good intentions, to my mind, is that we are not confident on theological vision as a Church, but much too trusting in the security and decisiveness of empirical research.”

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Bishop Michael Perham

Updated again 17 May

Lambeth Palace has released the following statement concerning Bishop Michael Perham, the retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Statement on retired Bishop of Gloucester

Monday 11th May 2015
Statement in relation to the Rt Revd Michael Perham, retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Following a police investigation concerning Bishop Michael Perham last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. With the full co-operation of the Bishop an independent risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and as a result Bishop Michael will be able to take up Ministry in retirement, and the postponed farewells for him in Gloucester can now take place.

We will be making no further comment on this matter.

The Diocese of Gloucester has this announcement: Bishop Michael

Statement from Rt Revd Michael Perham on the conclusion of the church process

11 May 2015

“I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive.
“The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions.
“I am, of course, immensely heartened that I can now return to ministry in my retirement. I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process.
“Now I can look forward to a celebration in Gloucester to bring my ministry there as its bishop for 10 years to a proper conclusion and, afterwards, to a new phase of being a priest and bishop in active retirement.”

Statement from the Diocese of Gloucester in response to news from Lambeth Palace

11 May 2015

“The Diocese of Gloucester welcomes today’s statement from Lambeth Palace concerning the Rt Revd Michael Perham. Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. We are gladdened by today’s news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement. We look forward to marking Bishop Michael’s committed and dedicated ministry to this diocese, with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 13 June.”

Update 17 May

There is a BBC report including an interview with Bishop Michael:
Ex-Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham calls for law change.

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Friday, 8 May 2015

Reform and Renewal defended and then criticised

Last week, the Church Times carried an article by William Fittall, under the headline Plans to proclaim the faith afresh with the strapline There is no cause to be fatalistic about church decline.

This was also published on the official church website, where it had the headline Reform and renewal - a guide to the debate.

Church Times readers attempting to follow the discussions about the emerging “Reform and Renewal” programme in the Church of England may, by now, be somewhat baffled. There have been suggestions that the proposals are theologically lightweight, based on questionable research, too managerial and even that one of the undergirding concepts – discipleship – is not to be found in the New Testament!

As the Archbishops said in their paper to the Synod, the challenge of reform and renewal is spiritual. We shall ultimately be building on sand unless what we do is underpinned by prayer and an unshakable confidence in God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or conceive.

The starting point for the programme is a recognition that the Church of England’s capacity to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation will be decisively eroded unless the trend towards older and smaller worshipping communities is reversed. Some seem reluctant to face up to the consequences of this, while others doubt that anything will make much difference. Such fatalism was absent when the proposals were discussed by the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod…

This week Paul Handley reports in the Church Times on a symposium held last Friday in Oxford, Oxford group challenges talent quest.

THE idea that future leaders of the Church of England should be talent-spotted and groomed came in for sustained criticism at a symposium in Oxford last Friday.

The title of the symposium was “Apostolic Leadership for an Apostolic Church”. It had been convened by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, in response to the “literally hundreds” of letters and emails he had received after his critique of the Green report…

One of the participants, Andrew Lightbown, published this article: Questions over episcopal leadership post Green and RME.

It has been interesting watching how ‘head office’ is reacting to critics of the raft of reports recently issued on behalf of the Church of England.

For many it feels as though conversion about, and participation in, decision making processes are simply not welcome.

Critics are all too quickly rebuffed: William Fittall, writing in the Church Times last week (1st May) was keen to dismiss Alister McGrath’s analysis of Resourcing Ministerial Education and, the Green Report. Mark Hart’s analysis of From Anecdote to Evidence was, in the previous edition, given short shift by those ‘in the know.’

Now it could be that all the recent reports are spot on in their analysis and, that those who wish to critique or participate in wider discussion are overly worried.

But, this in itself should not be a reason to close down conversation, for the real issue has now become the style of leadership to which the church is becoming accustomed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 May 2015 at 10:09pm BST | Comments (4)
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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Bishop of Maidstone - news and reactions

Updated

reactions

Forward in Faith

Anglican Mission in England

Reform

press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Leader of campaign against women bishops is made a bishop in bid to avert CofE split

Tim Wyatt Church Times C of E honours its pledge to appoint a ‘headship’ Evangelical as bishop

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today ‘Male headship’ campaigner appointed as CofE bishop

Update

statement by WATCH (Women and the Church)

John Martin The Living Church Prebendary Thomas Steps Up

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Rod Thomas to be Bishop of Maidstone

Press release from the Number 10 website.

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone: Roderick Charles Howell Thomas

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 5 May 2015
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of Roderick Charles Howell Thomas to the Suffragan See of Maidstone in the Diocese of Canterbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Charles Howell Thomas, BSc (Econ), Vicar of Elburton, to the Suffragan See of Maidstone, in the Diocese of Canterbury. He will succeed the Right Reverend Graham Cray who became leader of the Archbishops’ Fresh Expressions Team in 2009. The See has been vacant since then. In December 2014, the Dioceses Commission agreed to a proposal from the Archbishops to fill the See in order to provide a bishop who takes the conservative evangelical view on male headship.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995.

From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Prebendary Roderick Thomas is married to Lesley and they have 3 children. Prebendary Roderick Thomas has chaired Reform, a network for conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, since 2007. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

There is also a press release from Lambeth Palace, copied below the fold.

Press release from Lambeth Palace

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone announced
Tuesday 5th May 2015

The Revd Prebendary Roderick Thomas will be the next Bishop of Maidstone.

Downing Street has today announced that the next Bishop of Maidstone will be the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, currently Vicar of Elburton in the Diocese of Exeter.

The appointment of Rod Thomas follows a meeting of the Dioceses Commission in December at which unanimous agreement was given to a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the see, which has been vacant since 2009, with a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flowed from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013- GS Misc 1079). In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see, the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

The See of Maidstone is in the Diocese of Canterbury and Rod Thomas will be available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral. However, given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

The date of Rod Thomas’s consecration is yet to be confirmed. He succeeds the Rt Revd Graham Cray, who was Bishop of Maidstone from 2001 to 2009 and Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions from 2009 to 2014.

Welcoming the news, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am personally delighted that Rod Thomas has agreed to take up the post of Bishop of Maidstone. Rod has served the church tirelessly, both as a parish priest and as a member of the General Synod, and engaged constructively and graciously with those of differing theological views. It is my hope and prayer that Rod’s distinctive ministry as Bishop of Maidstone will enable those with a conservative evangelical view of headship to flourish and to be assured that the Church of England has a respected place for them.”

The Reverend Prebendary Rod Thomas said: “It is both a privilege and a challenge to be asked to become a Bishop in the Church of England. The prospect of serving as the Bishop of Maidstone is similarly both exciting and daunting, and so I ask for prayer that God will give me the necessary strength and wisdom. My hope for the Bishop of Maidstone’s new role is that it will help to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ; encourage church members in their faith and witness; and generate widespread confidence in our commitment, as a church, to mutual flourishing.”

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said: “In arriving at the arrangements which have now led to three women being nominated as bishops, it was clear that the voice of those taking a conservative position on male headship also needed to be honoured. This was in the context of the five guiding principles which seek to make space within the Church of England for those of differing theological convictions to continue to flourish. It was this concern which led to the identification of the See of Maidstone for a bishop who holds to that conservative position.

“Having chaired the Steering Committee which produced the legislation and accompanying arrangements, I am very pleased that Rod Thomas has been nominated for this appointment. Rod was himself a member of that Committee; he played a very full and constructive part in our discussions, and spoke generously about the outcome in the crucial General Synod debate in July 2014. I look forward to working with Rod again, this time within the fellowship of the College of Bishops.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Wherever possible, and so that our divisions may not get in the way of the world seeing and receiving Christ, the church needs to learn a new spirit of generosity where different views on some issues are able to live alongside each other in as much communion as possible. I therefore welcome the appointment of Rod Thomas as the new Bishop of Maidstone and look forward to working with him in the Chelmsford diocese where I hope he will serve as an Assistant Bishop. His presence and ministry will give confidence to many in the church and show that it is possible to disagree well.”

About the Revered Prebendary Roderick Thomas

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Rod Thomas is married to Lesley and they have three children. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

Notes to Editors

  • Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.
  • Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.
  • This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004 [GS 1557]. View the report here.
  • The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full here.
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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Participants reflect on the Shared Conversations

Updated 8, 14, 17 and 20 May

Two people so far have written about their experiences at the first regional session of the Shared Conversations. This involved dioceses in the South West. The second session takes place this coming week for Yorkshire dioceses.

Rose Grigg has written here: Reflections on the first Shared Conversations.

Erika Baker has written: The Shared Conversations which I have published on TA.

If further articles by participants appear, I will of course add links to them.

Further reflections

Jeremy Pemberton has written about the East Midlands Conversation: Shared Conversations – Talking in Circles

Richard Coles has two contributions, one is a sound clip of his Radio 2 Pause for Thought, the other is a written one, both can be found here on the Changing Attitude blog for Shared Conversations.

Graham Rutter Reflection on Shared Conversations

Tim Moore Tim Moore’s reflections: Yorkshire (7th – 9th May 2015)

Ruth Wilde Ruth Wilde’s reflections (East Midlands 11th-13th May 2015)

Update
The Church Times carries a news report today, Shared Conversations: praise for three days in hotel talking of sexuality and there is also Leader Comment: Sharing and Caring.

Mention is made in the above of a commentary from Anglican Mainstream. The full text of the latter can be found here.

Earlier, Ruth Gledhill had written this report for Christian Today: Church of England begins ‘shared conversations’ on human sexuality - can it reach ‘good disagreement’?

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

General Synod miscellaneous

The Report of Proceedings of the February 2015 meeting of General Synod is now available online. This comprises a verbatim transcript of the complete proceedings. It also includes the questions (and their answers) that were for written answer and those which were not reached in the time available.

General Synod will be dissolved after the July 2015 group of sessions, and elections for a new Synod held between mid-July and mid-October. The Church of England website has a series of pages about these elections.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 May 2015 at 8:49pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester

I reported here on this week’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester that Mr Sharpe was not an “employee” of the Bishop of Worcester or a “worker” for the purposes of employment law. I also linked to some early reactions.

Law & Religion UK has now published this analysis by Russell Sandberg of the Cardiff Law School: Not a Sharpe Turn: a note on Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 2 May 2015 at 3:17pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Friday, 1 May 2015

“Bishop for church-plants”

We reported in March on the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the suffragan see of Islington to provide a “bishop for church-plants”. The Dioceses Commission has now given its approval to the proposal.

The official press release is here, and is copied below.

Go ahead for church planting bishop for See of Islington
01 May 2015

The Dioceses Commission has given its approval to revive the See* of Islington paving the way for a new bishop to lead on church planting within the Diocese of London.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Commission expressing his strong support for the new See. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, formally submitted a proposal to the Commission laying out the support of both the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop’s Council.

Most bishops exercise their ministry within a defined geographical area. The proposal to revive the See of Islington is innovative as the bishop would hold a particular brief for church-planting initiatives primarily in the Diocese of London but to provide advice for other dioceses across England as invited to do so by the local bishop.

The Commission first looked at the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the See of Islington at its meeting in September last year before it was being discussed by the London Diocesan Synod.

The Bishop of London has emphasised that the new bishop would be accountable to him and be part of the London Diocese’s senior team, playing his/her part in carrying out episcopal functions, such as confirmations, in the diocese and in particularly in supporting clergy in pioneer ministry.

Professor Michael Clarke, Chair of the Dioceses Commission, said: “The Commission looked very carefully at the Bishop of London’s proposal, and, in the light of clarification of the intended role of the new bishop, gave it a green light. As with our recent scheme radically reshaping dioceses in West Yorkshire, we are keen to play our part in adapting the Church’s structures to meet current mission needs.”

Following the Commission’s consent, the way is now open to appoint someone with a view to the new bishop being consecrated later in the year.

See also Diocese of London.

Notes for editors

The Dioceses Commission has particular responsibility for episcopal oversight across the Church of England and suffragan sees, such as this one, cannot normally be filled without its agreement. The creation of wholly new sees would nevertheless also require the consent of the General Synod. In this case the See of Islington had been created in the late 19th Century but had been left unfilled since 1923.

Church-planting was given a stimulus by the seminal 2004 Church Report Mission Shaped Church. This report recognised that ‘the existing parochial system alone is no longer able fully to deliver its underlying mission purpose…’ and that ‘a variety of integrated missionary approaches is required’ with ‘a mixed economy of parish churches and network churches.’ It described church plants as ‘creating new communities of Christian faith as part of the mission of God to express God’s kingdom in every geographic and cultural context.’ It is estimated that there are c.1,000 such Fresh Expressions across the Church of England attended by c.30,000 people. (See here.)

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 May 2015 at 10:07pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Church of England and the low carbon economy

The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board last night announced a £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.

National Investing Bodies and transition to a low carbon economy

30 April 2015

The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board have today announced the £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.

From today neither body, nor the CBF Church of England funds, will make any direct investments in any company where more than 10% of its revenues are derived from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands.

This announcement coincides with the adoption of a new climate change policy recommended by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) that sets out how the three national investing bodies (NIBs) will support the transition to a low carbon economy…

The full policy is here.

Richard Burridge, the deputy chair of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, writes about the new policy: CofE national investing bodies and transition to low carbon economy.

Press reports

Pilita Clark Financial Times Church of England blacklists coal and tar sands investments

Adam Vaughan The Guardian Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels

BBC News Church of England to sell fossil fuel investments

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 1 May 2015 at 10:30am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Former Worcestershire vicar "not an employee"

Updated

From the Worcester diocesan website

Court of Appeal upholds clergy freedom

30 Apr 2015 By Sam Setchell

The Court of Appeal has upheld the freedom of clergy to be office holders rather than employees with its judgement in the case regarding former Worcestershire vicar, Mark Sharpe.

The court has agreed with the initial judgement of the Employment Tribunal, which ruled that Mr Sharpe was not an employee of the Bishop, the Diocese or anyone else.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has taken this view of the matter. There has been considerable consultation with the clergy on this issue as well as discussions at General Synod, and clergy have consistently said that they don’t wish to change their status as office holders. To become employees, clergy would lose the freedoms which are at the heart of the Church’s ministry and this is not something that they want to give up.

It is regrettable that UNITE fails to understand the context in which parish clergy exercise their ministry whilst the Church seeks to uphold the freedoms enjoyed by its clergy.”

Bishop John continued: “Mr. Sharpe’s claims of the various incidents which despoiled his ministry in Teme Valley South are disheartening to read. However I am encouraged to note that the clergy who have ministered in these churches both before and since Mr Sharpe’s appointment have all spoken very warmly of the people there and their experience doesn’t reflect any of the negativity that Mr Sharpe claims to have faced.”

BBC News has this brief report: Worcester vicar loses unfair dismissal appeal.

Updates

The full judgment of the Court of Appeal is here.

Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK Church of England freehold incumbents not “employees”: Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester

Steven Morris The Guardian Vicar who claimed he was victim of four-year hate campaign loses court battle

Gavin Drake Church Times Clergy are office-holders, not employees, appeal court rules

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 30 April 2015 at 11:53am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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West Yorkshire and the Dales to get another bishop

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales announced yesterday that it is to get another suffragan bishop in addition to the four it already has.

New Suffragan Bishop for the Diocese

In a move designed to add necessary capacity to the diocese’s leadership, the See of Richmond (which has been dormant since 1921) is to be revived to enable the appointment of a Suffragan Bishop for the diocese. The Bishop will mainly cover the Bishop of Leeds’ work in the Leeds Episcopal Area, working with clergy and parishes, and will occasionally deputise for Bishop Nick, who will remain Area Bishop of Leeds.

Bishop Nick says, “The need for this post is both urgent and pragmatic. After nine months it’s become apparent that it is not possible for one person to do the three jobs that my current role entails, ie., Diocesan Bishop of a very large diocese, Area Bishop of Leeds as well as the strategic leadership of the setting up of a brand new diocese (to say nothing of the national and international responsibilities carried by a diocesan bishop). This will free me up to attend to the macro work of the diocese (and help speed up the process of transition) as well as giving the Leeds Area the full attention it needs.

“We argued from the beginning that, at least for the first few years of this new diocese, the Diocesan Bishop would not have the capacity to also be the Area Bishop of Leeds. I’m glad that the validity of that argument has now been recognised.

“Because of the urgency, we need someone who can begin quickly, who knows the structures and complexity of the diocese and is someone whom I can trust, so the process for this appointment will be expedited, with a view to the person appointed starting in the summer or autumn.”

The reviving of the See of Richmond has received the full support of the Bishop’s Council and has been agreed by the Archbishop of York, the Dioceses Commission and the Church Commissioners. The post will be paid for by the Church Commissioners; the only cost to the diocese will be housing.

The appointment will be made under Common Tenure (ie. it won’t be time limited), but when the post is eventually vacated, the Diocesan Bishop would need to petition the Dioceses Commission to refill it, if appropriate.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Refugees are humans

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, has written an article: Bishop of Manchester: I want leaders who look on migrants with compassion.

Refugees do not come to sponge off our benefits system, but because they have been driven from their homes by conflict and persecution

Briefly, last week, migration got a face, a human face. It’s not usually handled like that across much of the UK media, but the tragic plight of desperate families drowning in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe forced us out of our comfortable discourse about an amorphous “them”.

Migrants, we saw, are real human beings, not the “cockroaches” that one columnist had described them as only a few days earlier. Hundreds have died already this year in the effort to cross from north Africa.

Save the Children, one of Britain’s most reputable charities, estimates 2,500 children could lose their lives along the Mediterranean refugee route in 2015.

The asylum seekers washing up, sometimes all too literally, on Europe’s shores, are not driven to put their lives, and their families’ lives, on the line because they’ve heard that the UK has a generous benefits system. They take appalling risks.

They trust themselves and whatever little money they can scrape together to people smugglers and to overcrowded boats, because life at home has become desperate. They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities….

There is also a news article about this, Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 at 11:17pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update

Readers may recall that just before General Synod met in February the Bishop of Sheffield issued a note which was titled Financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education

Today, he has issued another note, this one is titled Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.

The full text is copied below the fold.

The article to which he refers by Alister McGrath can be found linked from here.

And there was this other article reporting More criticism for Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update

There have been a number of developments in the ongoing RME process since General Synod. Questions have been in recent weeks in correspondence, in the Church Press and online. It seems a good moment to offer an update and some answers to the questions.

What’s happening now?

We’re in the midst of a process of engagement and consultation about the Reform and Renewal programme as a whole (there is a box on the front of the Church of England webpage dedicated to reform and renewal updates). There are a number of elements to this.

1. Members of the Archbishops’ Council and staff members are making visits to dioceses to explore the proposals as a whole and to seek feedback at Diocesan Synods, Bishops Councils and a range of other meetings. There has been a high takeup. The feedback from the meetings is positive.

2. Lead staff members are also making a second round of visits to Bishops and their staff to test out the outworking and possible modification of the proposals.

3. A questionnaire has been sent to all dioceses and theological education institutions on the details of the RME proposals and we have had a high rate of return.

4. There are large number of other meetings and conversations around this agenda, including with theological educators.

This process of gathering feedback and engagement will take a number of months.

What’s the feedback been like so far?

As you’d expect, there’s been a wide range of responses. The vision in the RME proposals has been warmly welcomed, as in the General Synod debates. There are a range of positive and negative responses to the specific proposals – some quite bracing to read and others much more positive.

It’s already clear (and was clear at Synod) that the original proposals will need a good deal of development and that (as we expected) far more detail will be required before decisions can be taken.

What is the process from here ?

The RME Task Group completed its work in January and so the process from here is being overseen by the Ministry Council, the Archbishops Council and the House of Bishops, who all have an important stake in the eventual outcomes.

We are hoping that a more developed set of proposals will be published in the early autumn – but it may take longer than this.

Is there a sufficient theological rationale for the changes?

The RME Report has been criticized for having an insufficient theological rationale. We will certainly try and make this rationale more explicit in the next group of proposals.

However, it was never the purpose of the RME report to develop this rationale from first principles. Paragraph 10 articulates the need for an iterative dialogue between the present needs of the Church and Scripture and tradition. The same paragraph sets the report within the formularies of the Church of England about ordination (including the ordinal).

Paragraph 14 clearly proposes retaining the diversity of the present pattern of training and the Common Awards. Paragraph 31 expresses full confidence in present patterns of IME and affirms the ongoing need for a mixed economy of residential, non-residential and context based training.

The report is about the future resourcing of ministerial education. It is fundamentally about how best to get best value from and where necessary increase the resources available, ensure that theological education is lifelong, more flexible, extends to lay people as well as the ordained, and that the best possible such education is offered to the largest number of people.

Is the report negative about academic theology and research?

Not at all. This point has been raised by Alister McGrath in his Church Times article of 17th April where he detects a “hostility to theological scholarship”. I’ve reread the report several times for anything which might indicate this and I can’t find it. Nor can I find any evidence for the view that theological engagement with ministry is seen as peripheral, a luxury or divisive. The RME Task Group would have identified wholeheartedly with Alister’s paragraphs on theological vision for ministry. We simply assumed that this would be shared ground.

Nor do the existing recommendations mean that there will be less engagement with theology degrees in the universities. Proposal 3, paragraph 36, argues for the continuation of research degree funding and the higher cost pathways in theology departments, though with more flexibility for dioceses than previously.

Is this all a cost-cutting exercise?

Emphatically not. See paragraph 15: “The full range of proposals put forward require further resources. We have identified a first estimate of what an increase in present investment might achieve (in other words another £10 m per annum).

This would be the biggest single uplift in investment in theological education the Church of England has made for a generation.

However in order to increase this investment we have to be absolutely sure that we are being good stewards of our present investment and that any new funds will have the outcomes the Church needs.

Will this mean a decline in residential training ?

This question was raised before the General Synod and I answered it in an earlier blog post.

Much will depend on the level at which the standard grant is set, on the provision for family maintenance which is made and on the framework for decisions about candidates provided by the proposed Bishop’s Guidelines. But with the intended 50% increase in the number of ordinands none of the three modes of training- residential, course and context based- needs to be anxious.

The evidence from all across the Church of England is that bishops, parishes, and clergy all place a high value on residential training as part of the mixed economy of training we need for the future.

Is more clergy the answer?

A number of people have raised the question of whether simply ordaining more clergy is an answer to the range of challenges we face and will lead to the growth we are seeking.

The hardest single point to communicate in the whole RME proposals is that a large increase in people offering for ministry will not lead to an increase in the total number of clergy.

We are facing a significant fall in the number of stipendiary clergy even on the most hopeful scenario of a 50% increase in vocations.

If we do nothing we face a very steep fall indeed in the clergy who will be available to dioceses in ten years time. Clergy are already very stretched across many dioceses. Dioceses, clergy and parishes are already very imaginative in rethinking deployment and patterns of working and that needs to continue. But the kind of reduction we are facing would mean a radical change to the Church of England’s ability to sustain Christian communities in every part of the country.

This is a situation we cannot ignore for the sake of future generations. The effects will be felt most in dioceses with fewer resources, in areas of unfashionable deprivation, in poorer communities. The evidence of the feedback and debate is that some sections of the Church of England have not yet faced these uncomfortable realities.

RME is not arguing for more clergy than we have now. It is putting the case (and urging prayer and action) for more vocations to all kinds of ministry so that the mission of the Church as a whole can grow and flourish into the future.

That means addressing the funding questions as well.

Can the additional costs of training be met from “central funds” ?

Some of the contributions to the debate assume that the Church of England has a large pot of money somewhere called “central funds”.

There is at present no “core funding from central funds”. The funding for ordination training is all provided by the dioceses, mainly from the sacrificial giving of church members.

That funding is pooled. The pooling arrangement has some benefits: richer dioceses contribute more than poorer dioceses and the dioceses which produce a large number of ordinands do not bear the cost of their initial training.

However, the present arrangements also have some serious disadvantages. They are complicated and inflexible. Decisions about an ordinand’s training are separated entirely from the consequences in terms of costs. The consistent feedback from Bishops and Dioceses is that theological training institutions need to be more responsive to the changing ministerial needs of the Church as a whole.

The General Synod Vote 1 which funds ministerial education has increased by 40% between 2004 and 2014 and at a rate which is significantly above the level of inflation, even at the higher measure of RPI. The number of ordinands in training has remained broadly constant. Dioceses tell us that they are struggling to bear additional costs over and above inflation given the pressures on their own budgets.

This cost pressure comes at a time when the Church of England as a whole discerns a need to see the numbers of vocations to ordained ministry rise. For that reason we are seeking ways of connecting decisions about training more intelligently with the costs and content of that training. We are also looking at drawing down additional resources for a limited period from the Church Commissioners as part of the wider Reform and Renewal agenda discussed by the General Synod in February.

Have would any additional funding be invested?

No decisions have been made about the quantity of additional funding required or the details of how it would be invested.

The Reform and Renewal programme has a number of elements which might be included in a request to the Church Commissioners from the Archbishops Council for additional funding to be released. All of that is the subject of the present consultation.

And finally….

I do not believe that RME advocates a “corporate, management driven institutional approach’ to ministerial training as some have argued. It is a report about resourcing. The clue is in the title.

In that context, the report advocates prayer, increased investment, continuity with the present patterns of training, good stewardship and greater flexibility as the Church looks to the future.

The Reform and Renewal process as a whole is a courageous attempt to help the Church examine its future direction, face uncomfortable truths in a spirit of hope and to better equip that Church in its understanding of and participation in God’s mission. I believe these are vital proposals at a key moment in our history. They are necessary but not sufficient for the reform and renewal of the Church. Doubtless they can be improved (and they will be) as the process continues. As ever, I look forward to the continued debate.

+Steven Sheffield
28 April, 2015.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

The defence of From Anecdote to Evidence is unconvincing

We reported earlier on the critique of From Anecdote to Evidence.

This week’s Church Times contains a letter to the editor from the Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council, and the Senior Strategy Officer for the Church Commissioners which purports to respond to that criticism. Do read the letter before the reply below. Professor Voas’ presentation mentioned in the letter can be linked to here.

Mark Hart has now responded to that letter with this: From Misrepresentation to Misrepresentation. Please read the whole of his article, which rebuts the letter’s claims point by point. He concludes with this:

…More positively, the letter does not try to contradict 7 of my 8 concluding points, nor my overall conclusion that ‘according to the research, the increase in growth to be expected from the use of these factors will be nowhere near sufficient to halt the relentless generational decline, even if the resources could be found to move every lever as far as possible’.

However, they end by trying to defend the claim to have an evidence base for the Reform & Renewal programme by saying that the Church Growth Research Programme is just one part of the evidence. Yet it has repeatedly been cited as the basis, it is claimed as ‘hard information’ compared with the anecdotal, and it is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and detailed research available.

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Joe Cassidy's funeral

We reported Joe Cassidy’s untimely death here. His funeral took place last week. St Chad’s College website has this brief report.

Dr Cassidy RIP

The funeral of our much loved Principal, Joe Cassidy, took place on Friday 17th April in Durham Cathedral. It was a wonderful tribute to the man and this college, which he has done so much to shape. The order of service, Bishop David Stancliffe’s sermon and the beautiful eulogy by his daughter, Emmeline, may be seen HERE.

I’ve copied those links below.
The Order of Service
+David Stancliffe’s Sermon
Emmeline Skinner Cassidy’s Tribute

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Monday, 20 April 2015

More coverage of the GAFCON primates meeting in London

We previously covered this event here.

Media coverage:

Church Times Madeline Davies GAFCON plans to touch more Anglican lives

Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Conservative Anglicans poised for ‘leap forward’, deny schism

Telegraph John Bingham Bishops back Church of England breakaway congregations

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Breakaway Anglicans’ ‘narrow way’

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines has written a critical blog article here: The real Church of England. Please read the whole article, but here is an extract:

…For a long time I have wondered if the Church of England ought not to be a little more robust in countering the misrepresentation and manipulation (of reality) that emanates from Gafcon. I am not alone. But, I have bowed to the wisdom of those who (rightly) assert that we shouldn’t counter bad behaviour with bad behaviour, and that we should trust that one day the truth will out. I am no longer so sure about the efficacy of such an eirenic response. I think we owe it to Anglicans in England and around the Communion to fight the corner and challenge the misrepresentation that is fed to other parts of the Anglican Communion. (I was once asked in Central Africa why one has to be gay to be ordained in the Church of England. I was asked in another country why the Church of England no longer reads the Bible and denies Jesus Christ. I could go on. When asked where this stuff has come from, the answer is that this is what a bishop has told them.)

The Gafcon primates say:

We are uniting faithful Anglicans, growing in momentum, structured for the future, and committed to the Anglican Communion.

Which means what – especially when they claim ‘gospel values’ and speak and behave in ways that do not reflect values of honesty, integrity and humility? And on what basis is the bulk of the Church of England reported (within Gafcon circles) as being unfaithful? And who writes the stuff they put out? Who is directing whom – who is pulling whose strings? And what would be the response if I wrote off as “unfaithful” entire provinces of the Anglican Communion where there was evidence of corruption, love of power, financial unfaithfulness or other sins? Does the ninth Commandment still apply today, or only where convenient? Is sex the only ethical matter that matters, or does breaking the ninth Commandment get a look in?

The Gafcon primates get their information (and money) from somewhere. The ‘take’ on the Church of England reflects simply the perceptions of a few. I bet the wider picture is not represented. They insinuate that some clergy and churches (decidedly congregations and not parishes – and thereby lies another issue) feel marginalised or fearful – treated like ‘pariahs’ according to Gafcon – so cannot be identified. Really? How pathetic.

I was once at a meeting of evangelical bishops in England when three English Gafcon men came to meet us. They had stated that this was the case and that bishops were giving their clergy a hard time. We asked for evidence so we could consider it before we met. Bishop Tom Wright and I were just two who were outraged at the misinformation, misrepresentation and selective re-writing of history presented to us. When we began to challenge this, we were told that we shouldn’t get bogged down in the detail and could we move on. And they got away with it. I am not making this up…

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Alister McGrath criticises Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Church Times has published an article by Alister McGrath which is headlined It’s the theology, stupid. The strapline is clearer about the content of the article: What do we want from our clergy.

His view is clear:

…TO BE asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action.

Ministry has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, standing at the intersection of God and the world. Both those dimensions need to be sustained. RME’s exclusively pragmatic approach to ministerial training risks the loss of its core motivation and inspiration for Christian ministry.

This hostility towards theological scholarship seems to reflect a lack of understanding of what theology is, and why it matters. The training that we offer our ministers must do far more than simply acquaint them with the institutional ethos of the Church of England. It must energise them through engagement with the realities of the Christian gospel…

Do read the whole article.

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Friday, 17 April 2015

Church Times reports criticism of church growth document

Updated Tuesday afternoon

This week’s Church Times carries a detailed report of the analysis by Mark Hart which was reported on here earlier this week. See Cleric says report on church growth belies the research which also includes a very helpful summary of his criticisms (scroll down to read the bold print part).

There is also a Church Times leader on the subject: Lost in translation but this is available only to subscribers.

Update

The Church Times has now published a further article related to this. See

Madeleine Davies Church growth: Bishop Broadbent rounds on the critics of Reform and Renewal. The entire article should be read, but here’s a snippet:

…Several strands of criticism were addressed, including that put forward by the Revd Dr Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton, last week (News, 17 April). Dr Hart’s paper, From Delusion to Reality looks critically at From Anecdote to Evidence, the 2014 report that examines evidence for which factors cause churches to grow ( News, 17 January 2014). The Reform and Renewal programme was based on this report. His paper questions self-reported growth figures and a confusion between cause and effect in the list of characteristics associated with growth.

Whether the research basis was reliable was “obviously an important question to ask”, Bishop Broadbent said. “But actually those characteristics are things that come back time and again in both English and German and American research on church growth, and which can be reiterated.”

Mr Hart had admitted that the Church was in decline, Bishop Broadbent said, but “he doesn’t therefore say what you do about the decline, merely that he thinks the analysis might be wrong.”

Dr Paul, who has a degree in mathematics, said that Mr Hart had suggested that “statistically, there is not clear evidence that changing all the levers that we can change is going to reverse the decline in the way we need to do it.

“Well we haven’t got any other levers, so let’s pull the ones we have…”

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Monday, 13 April 2015

How religious is the United Kingdom?

The WIN/Gallup International market research association has published the results of a recent survey taken in 65 countries. This shows that the UK is one of the least religious countries as measured by what people say about themselves.

The full press release is available here. It starts out:

Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

  • 63% of people polled say they are religious
  • China is the least religious country with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any
    other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and
    Spain (20%).
  • Thailand is the most religious country globally (94%), followed by Armenia (93%),
    Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), and Morocco (93%)…

The wording of the question was this:

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious Person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.”

Press coverage of this has been varied:

Guardian UK one of world’s least religious countries, survey finds

Telegraph Britain one of the ‘world’s least religious countries’, says poll and Mapped: These are the world’s most religious countries

Christian Today Two thirds of people worldwide are religious (but less than one third of Brits)

Daily Mail Brits among the least religious in the world: UK comes 59th in poll of 65 countries after only 30% of population say they have a faith

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From Anecdote to Evidence: An Evaluation

Updated

From Anecdote to Evidence is available here.

Mark Hart, Rector of Plemstall & Guilden Sutton, Diocese of Chester, has written an 18 page essay which evaluates this report. He has titled it From Delusion to Reality and you can read it in a PDF file located here.

His analysis makes use of a previously unpublished update dated September 2014 to a report by David Voas and Laura Watt, which was originally published in February 2014.

The updated version is now available here.

As the title of his analysis hints, his evaluation concludes that the evidence does not support the arguments now being made for the investment of substantial money by the Church Commissioners in order to stimulate church growth. His concluding paragraphs read:

The Church has recently embarked on a wide-ranging programme of ‘Reform and Renewal’, led with considerable energy and resolve, and this has quite understandably been a great source of encouragement to many. However, the Church Growth Research is cited as the evidence base for the success of these plans, and From Anecdote to Evidence represents the level of understanding of the research among the senior leadership.

It has been estimated that it will be necessary to borrow at least £100m from the future, using Church Commissioners’ funds, in order to implement the Task Group proposals. This paper therefore calls into question the basis for considering this an investment likely to pay back a return, in terms of either finance or church growth. It also calls into question the From Evidence to Action initiative which is designed to encourage parishes to implement the research findings as presented in From Anecdote to Evidence.

Despite appearances, this is not meant to be a negative analysis, even though it asks the Church’s leaders to accept that their research has provided no answer to the question of how to achieve sufficient numerical growth to offset the continuing decline.

The analysis here implies there is a need for much more radical thinking and planning, not less. The questions go wider than ‘How can we increase attendance figures?’ to include ‘What are the reasons for decline?’ and ‘What is an appropriate ecclesiology for a national Church in today’s social context?’ That requires attention to be given to all aspects of the Church’s role in society. And it requires the questions to be asked with a positive, outward look towards the people of the parishes rather than an inward, anxious focus on institutional strength.

The Church has officially moved from delusion to reality on attendance figures. It now needs to face the reality of what its own growth research is saying, and of why it was felt necessary to portray it in a way which would only create another delusion.

Read it all for yourself.

Update
I omitted previously to link to the blog article introducing this written by Mark Hart. He said:

…My paper shows that ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ systematically misrepresents or misinterprets the underlying report by David Voas & Laura Watt, thereby exaggerating the usefulness of the findings for numerical growth.

This has implications for the ‘Reform & Renewal’ programme (involving many Task Groups) which plans to borrow an estimated £100m from the future, on the evidence of this research, to invest in church growth…

Mark has now written a further note, From Even More Delusion to Reality, which says:

The C of E press release issued when ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ was published was even more false than the report itself:

“Researchers have concluded that while there is no single recipe, there are common ingredients strongly associated with growth in churches of any size, place or context:
These include: Leadership; A clear mission and purpose; Willingness to self-reflect and learn continually; Willingness to change and adapt according to context; Lay as well as clergy involvement and leadership; Being intentional about prioritising growth; Actively engaging children and teenagers; Actively engaging with those who might not usually go to church; Good welcoming and follow up for visitors; Commitment to nurturing new and existing Christians; Vision” (my bold)

Every one of these factors, it is claimed, according to a professional research conclusion, is strongly associated with growth, in any church in the land.
This is so untrue, as my paper shows (and see previous post).
This is not an academic argument. It is about the people and clergy of the parishes. They are affected by decisions made on the basis of these ‘findings’. They deserve better.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 April 2015 at 8:33pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Anglican Mission in England

This organisation has a new website. Some extracts will give readers the flavour:

What is AMiE?

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.

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. AMiE, alongside Reform and Church Society, co-sponsor the annual ReNew conference. The AMiE Executive Committee shares the ReNew vision of pioneering, establishing and securing a nation of healthy local Anglican churches.

Who does AMiE seek to serve?

There are four basic categories of those that AMiE seeks to serve:
1. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England whose mission is constrained by their bishop or diocese.
2. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England but who are in impaired communion with their bishop or diocese.
3. Anglicans outside the structures of the Church of England.
4. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England who are currently experiencing few constraints but who wish to express solidarity with those under 1-3 above.

Executive Committee

AMiE is governed by and Executive Committee consisting of:
Revd Justin Mote (Chairman and Director/Trustee)
Revd Canon Andy Lines (General Secretary and Director/Trustee)
Rt Revd John Ellison (Chair of Panel of Bishops)
Revd Paul Perkin (Chair of FCA UK & Ireland)
Revd Richard Coekin
Revd Canon Tim Davies
Mr Dan Leafe
Mr. Brian O’Donoghue (Secretary and Director/Trustee)
Revd Rod Thomas
Revd Canon Dr Chris Sugden
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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 March 2015 at 11:02pm BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Joe Cassidy

It is with much sadness that we have learned that the Revd Canon Joe Cassidy died yesterday, 28 March, after a short illness. He was 60.

Joe was a frequent commenter on this Thinking Anglicans blog, and also a valued contributor to our ‘just thinking’ series, writing challenging and pastoral pieces from a sound scholarly position. In the wider world he was the Principal of St Chad’s College, Durham, a place where many of our clergy have trained and where he will be much missed. Before joining the Church of England he had been ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church, and was a member of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, in his native Canada.

The Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, was his neighbour in the city, and has written this personal reminiscence.

To his wife Gillian and to his children and family we send our condolences.

May he rest in peace!

Simon, Simon and Peter

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 7:14pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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More criticism for Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Church Times reports: Changes in training prompt resignation and protest letter.

…The Revd Dr Sarah Coakley, professor of divinity at the University of Cambridge, sent a resignation letter to the group four days before the report - Resourcing Ministerial Education - was published (News, 16 January). In it, she lists several reservations about the report, warning that it is “anodyne and misleading”. She describes the devolution to the dioceses as “the most disturbing part . . . I must be blunt: I simply do not believe there is sufficient qualitative theological understanding in most of the dioceses to protect the sort of aspirations that this report promotes.”

Resourcing Ministerial Education, presented to the General Synod in February (News, 20 February), proposes that “decisions about training pathways for individuals should be made in the diocese, in consultation with the candidate.” A “standard level of grant for tuition” will be given to each recommended candidate from a central fund, to which all dioceses contribute. This grant “may be used in a range of ways as the diocese sees fit, providing the training is from an approved provider”…

The letter to the editor, signed by 17 academics and quoted in the news report, can be found in full here.

…We the undersigned wish to express our great concern that, should core funding from central funds disappear and be replaced altogether with diocesan funding, a casualty will be the strong links built up over many years with university theology and religious studies departments, and that the public, intellectual engagement of the Church of England with pressing contemporary issues will suffer accordingly.

None of us disputes the importance of alternative modes of educational delivery to the full-time residential one. Mixed-mode and context-based training schemes, alongside part-time study, have already contributed enormously to the development of new ways into ordained as well as lay ministry, and there is no doubt that they have much more to offer the Church in the future. The Church of England needs a diversity of forms of theological education if it truly desires a diversity of ordination candidates.

We are alert, too, to the differential costs of all these various ways of pursuing study. Nor are we blind to the potential that exists - though arguably it is severely underdeveloped - for constructive relationships between university departments and the newer forms of training.

But there is a particular advantage to the pursuit of theological study in a full-time setting that can serve well the deepest engagement possible with the challenges of contemporary theology, and especially the development of an active research culture. All of our universities have contributed significantly to that in the past, and would hope to do so in the future. A key element is the involvement of universities in the education of clergy and laity, both through the contribution that academic staff make to teaching and to debate in the wider Church, and through the participation of students in graduate as well as undergraduate courses….

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act receives Royal Assent

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 received the Royal Assent today.

The Church of England issued a press release welcoming the Royal Assent which includes this:

Under the terms of the Act, the Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, who is announced today as the next Bishop of Gloucester will become the first female diocesan bishop to join the Bishops’ Benches in the House of Lords.

Archdeacon Rachel will take the place vacated by the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who retires on July 11. She will be introduced into the House of Lords after the summer recess.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 26 March 2015 at 9:20pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Bishop of Gloucester

Updated

10 Downing Street has announced that the next Bishop of Gloucester is to be the Venerable Rachel Treweek, currently Archdeacon of Hackney.

Diocese of Gloucester: Venerable Rachel Treweek

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Rachel Treweek, BA, BTh, Archdeacon of Hackney, for election as Bishop of Gloucester in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Francis Perham, MA, whose resignation took effect on the 21 November 2014.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Rachel Treweek (nee Montgomery) aged 52, studied at Reading University and trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She served her first curacy at Saint George and All Saints, Tufnell Park in the Diocese of London from 1994 to 1997 and was Associate Vicar from 1997 to 1999.

From 1999 to 2006 she was Vicar at Saint James the Less, Bethnal Green and Continuing Ministerial Education Officer for the Stepney Episcopal Area. From 2006 to 2011 she was Archdeacon of Northolt in the Diocese of London. Since 2011 she has been Archdeacon of Hackney. In 2013 she was elected as Participant Observer in the House of Bishops for the South East Region.

Rachel is married to Guy, Priest-in-Charge of two parishes in the City of London.

Her interests include conflict transformation, walking and canoeing.

Gloucester diocese has a page welcoming the new bishop-designate including the following quote

Following the announcement, Rachel said:

“It is an immense joy and privilege to be appointed as the Bishop of Gloucester. I am surprised and, I have to admit, even a little daunted by the prospect, but my overwhelming feeling is one of excitement to be coming to join with others in sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the people of this diocese.

“I am looking forward to encouraging Christians to speak out with confidence about their faith and the good news that the Gospel brings. It will be my privilege to work with churches as we connect with people, wherever they are and whatever their concerns.

“My calling to the role of bishop has been shaped by human encounter. I believe profoundly that relationship is at the heart of who God is. I have been with people through the joys and pains of their lives and it is these experiences that I will reflect upon as I take up this new role.”

The diocese of London also covers the appointment of one of its archdeacons. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is quoted:

As Richard of Gloucester is reinterred, Rachel of Gloucester is revealed. Rachel has served her entire ministry in the Diocese of London, excelling wherever she has been. She has twice acted as Archdeacon, in Northolt and then Hackney — two highly demanding and contrasting areas where she has shone in equal measure.

… While we are very sorry to see her go, Gloucester has appointed someone with real quality and distinction. We look forward to continuing to support her in the years to come.

There is also coverage in the press including

several of which note that she is expected to become the first woman bishop to sit in the House of Lords.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 26 March 2015 at 10:01am GMT | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Alison White to be Bishop of Hull

The Archbishop of York has tweeted “Wonderful news that HM The Queen has appointed the Revd Canon Alison White as the Bishop Suffragan of the See of Hull”.

And here is the announcement from Number 10 (complete with misprint - Hull is in the diocese of York).

Suffragan Bishop of Hull: Reverend Canon Alison Mary White
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 25 March 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of Reverend Canon Alison Mary White, for election as Bishop of Hull in the Diocese of Newcastle.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Alison Mary White, MA, Priest-in-Charge of St James’ Church, Riding Mill in the diocese of Newcastle and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction in the Diocese of Newcastle, in succession to the Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith, MA, on his translation to the See of Hereford on the 22 November 2014.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Alison White aged 58, studied first at St Aidan’s College, Durham and then at Leeds University. She trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. She served her curacy as an NSM at Chester-le-Street in the Diocese of Durham from 1986 to 1989.

From 1989 to 1993 she was Diocesan Advisor in Local Mission and also Honorary Parish Deacon at Birtley. From 1993 to 1998 she was Director of Mission and Pastoral Studies at Cranmer Hall, Durham. From 1998 to 2000 she was Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Durham. From 2000 to 2004 she was a Springboard Missioner. From 2005 to 2010 she was an Adult Education Officer in Peterborough Diocese where from 2009 to 2010 she was also Honorary Canon at Peterborough Cathedral.

Since 2010 she has been Honorary Canon Theologian at Sheffield Cathedral. In 2011 she was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of St James’, Riding Mill in Newcastle Diocese and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction.

Alison White is married to Frank, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Newcastle. They have family in England and South Africa. Alison has an interest in literature and the arts, enjoys the theatre and is an avid reader. She likes to travel and be in the company of good friends. She enjoys the outdoors, walks and gardening. She is a school governor.

The York diocesan website has this news item: New Bishop of Hull [also available on the Archbishop of York’s website].

The Newcastle diocesan website has this: Alison White appointed Bishop of Hull.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Suffragan sees of Ripon and Wakefield

The names of the suffragan sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract in the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales were officially changed to Ripon and Wakefield respectively by Order in Council on 19 March 2015. The two area bishops, James Bell and Tony Robinson, can now officially be called the Bishop of Ripon and the Bishop of Wakefield respectively.

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Muslim prayer in church building generates controversy

The original report was in the Telegraph: Muslim prayers in Church of England parish.

The Church Times later reported: Canon Goddard apologises for Muslim prayers in his church.

So also did Christianity Today No more Muslim prayer services in churches, says bishop.

The official statements:

Diocese of Southwark 1: A statement concerning recent events at St John’s Waterloo

St John’s Waterloo: Statement from Canon Giles Goddard

Diocese of Southwark 2: A statement from the Bishop of Southwark concerning St John’s, Waterloo

Kelvin Holdsworth has written about this: Welcoming Muslims into church.

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Friday, 13 March 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords yesterday when it received its third reading. As there were no Lords amendments to the bill it does not need to return to the Commons. It now awaits the Royal Assent and will come into force “on the day Parliament first meets following the first parliamentary general election after this Act is passed”.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK writes about this and precisely when Parliament “first meets”.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Proposal to revive the See of Islington

The Church Times reports: Chartres sets out plan for ‘Bishop for church-plants’

A NEW “bishop for church-plants” has been proposed by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres. The aim is to support the burgeoning movement as it spreads across the country.

The plan, which involves reviving the see of Islington, vacant since 1923, will be given final consideration by the Dioceses Commission later this month.

In a report presented to the London diocesan Bishop’s Council last Wednesday, Bishop Chartres argues that there is an “urgent” need for church-planters to be given “knowledgeable support and mentoring in the early years”. The Bishop of Islington’s ministry would be “inherently episcopal but not territorial; thoroughly collegial but with an independent sphere of responsibility”…

The full text of the report can be found here.

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Consultation on scripture and sexuality

The Church Times reports on a consultation organised by the Church of England Evangelical Council: ‘Good disagreement’ breaks out at CEEC meeting by Madeleine Davies.

..The “consultation on scripture and sexuality” was held at St James the Less, Pimlico, and organised by the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard, associate director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, and a member of the Council. There were 22 people present, invited as holders of “a variety of different views”. Before attending, they had been issued with a report commissioned by the Council from Dr Martin Davie, tutor in doctrine at Wycliffe Hall: Studies on the Bible and Same-Sex relationships since 2003. The report urges the Church to pursue “a path of radical and uncompromising discipleship” by upholding the Church of England’s “existing teaching on sexual ethics”…

Ian Paul has written about this: Good disagreement?

So has Colin Coward Church of England Evangelical Council Consultation on Scripture and Sexuality

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Bishops of Tonbridge and Dorking to retire

Updated Sunday evening

Brian Castle, the suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge in the diocese of Rochester, recently announced that he will retire in the autumn.

I missed the announcement, which I am told was made a couple of weeks ago. This might be because, although it is online at the bishop’s personal website, it has yet to appear on the diocesan website or, so far as I know, anywhere else.

Update

A comment on another entry advises that Ian Brackley, the suffragan Bishop of Dorking in the diocese of Guildford, also announced his retirement last month; he will leave on 30 September 2015. Again this has not yet appeared on the diocesan website, although I have found a brief mention at the end of this item in a local paper.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

General Synod Electronic Voting Results - February 2015

The detailed results of the four electronic votes at last month’s meeting of General Synod are now available for download. The files include the text of the motion being voted on.

Tuesday 10 February

Item 504 - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure

At present a diocese must be named after the see city. This draft measure would have allowed a diocese to be named after a geographical area or the see city, and in the former case the diocesan bishop’s title could also be the area. This vote on clause 1 of the measure was in effect a vote on the whole measure, and a no vote was a vote against the measure.

Item 501 - Draft Amending Canon No. 35

Wednesday 11 February

Item 13 - Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-generational Equity

Thursday 12 February

Item 15 - Canon B 38

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Suffragan Bishop of Hertford

Michael Beasley has been appointed as the new Bishop of Hertford in the Diocese of St Albans.

Diocesan press release: Priest and scientist appointed Bishop of Hertford.

10 Downing Street press release: Suffragan See of Hertford: Canon Noel Michael Roy Beasley

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Monday, 2 March 2015

Bishop of Lichfield to retire

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, announced today that he will retire in September 2015.

Announcement on the Lichfield diocesan website: “40 years seem a good stint”

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Good Disagreement: David Ison writes for Accepting Evangelicals

Accepting Evangelicals has today launched a new section of its website, titled Good Disagreement.

This includes an article of the same title, by the Dean of St Paul’s, David Ison.

A pdf version of his article is also available. Here is a short extract, but you need to read the whole piece:

…And in the light of Reform’s response, there are also questions to be asked about the whole enterprise of ‘Shared Conversations’. Reflection ‘in the light of scripture’ brings in two of the classical Anglican markers of theological authority, the Bible and Reason, to which should be added an awareness of and exploration of Tradition – which requires a serious engagement with history which is not necessarily present in the heat of the debate. Further, the idea that there can be ‘safe space’ and a ‘safe environment’ for people to be vulnerable about their sexuality could only be true where those with power relinquish it. How reasonable is it to expect gay ordained and lay people, in a Church which discriminates against and condemns the expression of their sexuality, in a wider British culture which only very recently has begun to be more open about sexuality and where homophobic bullying and even murder are still current, let alone a world-wide culture in which homosexuality is in many places punished by imprisonment or death, should make themselves vulnerable to those who may want to exclude them? Will heterosexuals begin the discussion by sharing their struggles and experiences with their own sexuality, including those of their sins and shortcomings which might open them to the charge of hypocrisy, the loss of their reputation and authority, and possible disciplinary action? After all, far more damage is done in and to the Church by misbehaving heterosexuals than by gay people.

Personally, I think that the idea of ‘Shared Conversations’ is a positive initial step, but one which is unlikely on its own to have the kind of buy-in which is necessary to make a sufficient difference to how the Church engages with the issues around sexuality. A process which requires its participants to truly hear, and even be vulnerable to, one another, requires rather more investment of time and will than appears likely to be given at present through what is proposed for these conversations: they are a beginning rather than an end – which is one of the reasons why Reform are reluctant to participate, as they imply more beyond them. But, as the group discussions in General Synod about the ordination of women as bishops helped participants to really begin to meet those with whom they disagree, so these conversations have the power to do the same: whether that leads to change, and what that change would be, will be a further question…

But that’s not all. Ruth Gledhill has interviewed David Ison for Christian Today and her article is titled Dean of St Paul’s David Ison calls on CofE to consider gay marriage. There is a video recording of the interview linked at the bottom of that page, and there is a transcript of the text also provided. Her report for Christian Today begins thus:

The Dean of St Paul’s has called for the Church of England to consider what accepting same-sex marriage would mean for the future.

The Church of England is seen by many as “toxic” and “oppressive” because of its stance on women and gays, he said. Some gay Christians had even committed suicide because of the pressure of being told they had to be celibate.

Dr David Ison says today: “We need to consider what the acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church would mean in reality, and how it would be understood in relation to the theology of Christian marriage and the chequered history of that institution, as well as contemporary social practice around sexuality.”

Dr Ison, who was brought up in the conservative evangelical tradition but changed his mind about homosexuality after meeting gay Christians at university and witnessing first-hand the damage done by the traditional teaching, added: “We are in a situation where because of its views about women and about gay people, the church has been seen as toxic or oppressive.

“That breaks my heart, that that should be the case, when the church is there to bear witness to freedom, life and hope in the world. Let’s see what we can do to change that…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 February 2015 at 9:10pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Monday, 23 February 2015

The Church of England and the living wage

The Sun newspaper (in an article behind its paywall) reported this morning that some cathedrals and churches are hiring staff on salaries below the living wage. This is despite last week’s pastoral letter from the House of Bishops calling on employers to pay at least this amount.

Tim Wyatt reports the story for the Church Times: Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row.
So too does BBC News: Church of England pays some workers below living wage.

There is a press release from the Church of England, and comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 23 February 2015 at 3:57pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Friday, 20 February 2015

General Synod reports

Nicholas Hills, the Administrative Secretary in the Central Secretariat at Church House Westminster, has sent a summary of last week’s General Synod business to diocesan secretaries and archdeacons. The Diocese of Liverpool has published a slightly abbreviated version on its website. The original letter is also available.

Although as usual the detailed reports in the Church Times are only available to subscribers, this article by Madeleine Davies is free to all: Not on the agenda for Synod, Green remains hot topic.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 February 2015 at 10:57am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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House of Bishops' pastoral letter - more reports and comments

Our first roundup is here.

Tim Wyatt Church Times Bishops’ call for vision provokes anger

Gaby Hinsliff The Guardian Want to make yourself look less nasty? Avoid picking fights with the church

Michael Sadgrove Ash Wednesday, the Bishops and the Election

Ian Paul Which party should I vote for?

This week’s podcast from the Church of England starts with interviews with the Bishops of Norwich and Leicester.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 February 2015 at 10:42am GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Secretary General William Fittall To Step Down

Church of England press release

Secretary General To Step Down
20 February 2015

William Fittall, the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod of the Church of England, has today issued a statement to members of the General Synod announcing his intention to leave his post on November 30th this year.

Mr. Fittall, 61, took up the role of Secretary General in 2002 having previously worked in a number of senior posts in Whitehall. Announcing his intended departure, Mr. Fittall said:

“After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.

I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role.”

Responding to the announcement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“William has made a substantial and prodigious contribution to the work and life of the Church of England. For over a decade he has been unstinting in his efforts to ably lead the staff of the Council and professionally support the work of the Synod. He has been indefatigable in his service and I will personally miss him greatly.”

Statement from William Fittall

“This is to inform you that I have given the Archbishops formal notice of my intention to conclude my period of service as Secretary General on 30 November, immediately after the induction and inauguration of the new Synod.

By then it will be more than forty years since I started work in Whitehall and more than thirteen since my arrival at Church House. After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.

I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role. The Archbishops have, therefore, asked that the process for securing a successor should be put in hand immediately.

When the time comes, there will be more to say about the experience and privilege of having occupied this unique role. In the meantime there is still much work to be done, not least in relation to the reform and renewal programme, the Church’s engagement with government after the forthcoming election and the preparations for a new synodical quinquennium.”

William Fittall
Secretary General

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A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing

General Synod members have been sent A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing, written by William Fittall, the Secretary General. The briefing outlines the programme, details what Synod decided last week, and looks ahead to what happens next.

The briefing does not appear to be available on the Church of England website, but David Thomson, the Bishop of Huntingdon, has published it on his website.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 20 February 2015 at 12:01am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

House of Bishops' pastoral letter - reports and comments

Updated Tuesday evening and Wednesday

Tim Wyatt Church Times House of Bishops calls for a new politics ahead of election

Esther Addley The Guardian Church of England calls for ‘fresh moral vision’ in British politics

BBC News Church of England urges ‘fresh moral vision’ from politicians
Church of England: Public should ‘ask the big questions’

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England calls for a ‘new direction’ in British Politics

John Bingham The Telegraph Bishops vow to take on ‘sex appeal’ of Russell Brand’s ‘don’t vote’ message
John Bingham and Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph Thatcherism is finished – declares Church of England

Nigel Morris The Independent Russell Brand’s ‘sex appeal’ will deter voters, the Church of England says

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Bishops’ Pastoral Statement: 2015 General Election

Nick Baines Bishops and politics

Malcolm Brown (Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England) blogs: Who is my Neighbour?

Update

Aisha Gani The Guardian Church of England bishops’ pastoral letter: key points

The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the church and the election: talking sense

Kiran Stacey and Barney Thompson Financial Times Church of England rebukes political parties for lack of vision

Anoosh Chakelian New Statesman How the Church wants you to vote

James Kirkup and Tim Stanley The Telegraph Does the Church have a place in politics?

Symon Hill Ekklesia The bishops’ election letter is mild, not radical

Further update

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Tories and the Church: the 30-year war continues

Archbishop Cranmer “Tory Fury” over Church of England letter is a confected Tory tantrum

Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph Church of England campaigning for EU integration

Giles Fraser The Guardian The bishops have a point: our politics is stale and unambitious

Michael White The Guardian C of E’s naive intervention in politics prompts fierce storm in a teacup

Steven Swinford The Telegraph Iain Duncan Smith mocks Church of England’s ‘dwindling relevence’

Nick Spencer Theos Burning bishops’ fingers

Jonathan Chaplin KLICE ‘Who is my neighbour?’ – the Church of England finds a new political voice (also republished on Fulcrum)

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 at 6:51pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election

Updated Tuesday evening

Press release

House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election
17 February 2015

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have today expressed the hope for political parties to discern “a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be” ahead of the General Election in May of this year.

In a pastoral letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England, the Bishops urge Christians to consider the question how can we “build the kind of society which many people say they want but which is not yet being expressed in the vision of any of the parties?”

The letter also encourages church members to engage in the political process ahead of the General Election and to put aside self-interest and vote for ‘the common good’: “The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.”

The letter also states that: “In Britain, we have become so used to believing that self-interest drives every decision, that it takes a leap of imagination to argue that there should be stronger institutions for those we disagree with as well as for those ‘on our side.’ Breaking free of self-interest and welcoming our opponents as well as our supporters into a messy, noisy, yet rich and creative community of communities is, perhaps, the only way we will enrich our almost-moribund political culture.”

The letter defends the right of the Church to enter into the political arena: “It is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about how the world’s affairs ought to be arranged. The claim that religion and political life must be kept separate is, in any case, frequently disingenuous - most politicians and pundits are happy enough for the churches to speak on political issues so long as the church agrees with their particular line.”

The pastoral letter draws on the experience of the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community to warn of the disengagement between politicians and the people. They note that “with few exceptions, politicians are not driven merely by cynicism or self-interest” but nevertheless, “the different parties have failed to offer attractive visions of the kind of society and culture they wish to see…. There is no idealism in this prospectus”.

The letter encourages political parties across the spectrum to seek bold new visions of hope and idealism rather than “sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best.”

The bishops also argue Britain is in need of a stronger politics of community to boost solidarity between people and reverse a drift towards social isolation: “The extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete - and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.”

The letter specifically avoids advocacy for one any political party but instead encourages those in the Church to seek from political candidates a commitment to building a society of common bonds over individual consumerism. The bishops say Britain is hungry for a new approach to political life which reaffirms our ties at a national, regional, community and neighbourhood level. There is a need for a strong corrective to halt the move towards increasing social isolation, they say, through strengthening the idea that that Britain is still a “community of communities.” This, they say, is a theme which has roots in the historic traditions of different parties: “We are seeking, not a string of policy offers, but a way of conceiving and ordering our political and economic life which can be pursued in a conservative idiom, a socialist idiom, a liberal idiom - and by others not aligned to party.”

The pastoral letter argues that the Church of England finds its voice through being a presence in every community with churches remaining one of the primary agents of social action and social care in parishes across the country. The letter argues that Intermediate institutions such as housing associations, credit unions and churches are needed for their role in building stronger communities. A thriving society needs many intermediate institutions, they say, including those who disagree with each other.

The letter also recognises the inherent danger in the current situation where people are disengaging from politics, arguing that restoring faith in both politicians and the political process requires a new politics that engages at both a deeper more local level within a wider, broader vision for the country as a whole.

In the letter, the bishops warn against despair and urge people to vote in the General Election: “Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes. It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us.”

ENDS

The Pastoral letter can be read here.

A guide to the pastoral letter and its contents can be found here.

The statements from the Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Leicester can be found by clicking on the link on their names.

The Church of England & Church Urban Fund research “Church in Action” can be found at:
http://www.cuf.org.uk/blog/churches-respond-loneliness-crisis.

Updated to add links to pdf versions of dock files.

guide to the pastoral letter
statement from Bishop of Norwich
statement from Bishop of Leicester

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Bishop of Sherborne

Graham Kings, the suffragan Bishop of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury, will be moving to be Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion in the summer.

Mission Theology website: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Salisbury diocesan website: New Job for Bishop Graham

Fulcrum website: Partnership for Publishing New Voices: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Southwark diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 16 February 2015 at 7:52pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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