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.
Further details on the work of the Independent Reviewer can be found here.
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.
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).
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:
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”.
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.
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).
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…
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.
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”.
Order paper 5 lists the day’s business.
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.
Press reports and comments
Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod urges investors to act on climate change
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England governing body approves divestment policy
David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting
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.
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
Madeleine Davies Church Times Welby pledges new probe into abuse
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.
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
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.]
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.
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
Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the debate on senior church leadership: Archbishop speaks at Synod on senior church leadership
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).
The aim is to secure Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent by the end of the year.
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 latest practice guidance, approved by the House of Bishops, May 2015
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
John Bingham The Telegraph Church’s £360,000 budget for retreats to talk about sex
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.
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.
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).
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.
The Bishop of London has issued this ad clerum: New bishops of Edmonton, Islington and new Archdeacon of Hampstead.
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
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
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
David Goodhew Numbers have always mattered
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.
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
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
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.’
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
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:
Independent Hull vicar compares homosexuality to paedophilia
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
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 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 1964D - Amending Canon No.35 [Friday]
GS 1969A - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]
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 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 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]
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
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.
Madeleine Davies of Church Times was at today’s press briefing: Environment is top of General Synod agenda in York.
Updated again Sunday
This case continues to yield amazing quotations.
Two more reports just in:
…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…
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
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
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.
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.”
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:
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.”
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:
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
Rev Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer RE must not be downgraded
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.
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
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….
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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’?
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
Updated yet again 2 June
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Saturday 11 July
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
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
Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership
[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
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]
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
Archbishops’ Council Annual Report
Sunday 12 July
2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
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
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
4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation
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:
Elected MP, Meriden, 1997
Opposition Whip 1998-99;
Board member Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) 1997-2001;
Opposition Spokesperson for:
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
Science and Technology 1997-98,
Environmental Audit 2013-,
Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2014,
Ecclesiastical Committee 2014-
Queen Mary College, London (BA European studies 1980)
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:
The Church Commissioners annual report can be viewed here.
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.”
Two of the new ones are especially noteworthy:
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.
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.
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 “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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.”
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.
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…
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
statement by WATCH (Women and the Church)
John Martin The Living Church Prebendary Thomas Steps Up
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
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.
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
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’?
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.
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.
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.)
The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board last night announced a £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.
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.
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
From the Worcester diocesan website
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
28 April, 2015.
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.
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.
We previously covered this event here.
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…
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.
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.
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…”
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
- 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:
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.
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.
This organisation has a new website. Some extracts will give readers the flavour:
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.
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.
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.
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
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….
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.
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.
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 Newcastle diocesan website has this: Alison White appointed Bishop of Hull.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Wednesday 11 February
Thursday 12 February
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
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”
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…”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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?
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
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)
Updated Tuesday evening
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.”
The Pastoral letter can be read here.
A guide to the pastoral letter and its contents can be found here.
The Church of England & Church Urban Fund research “Church in Action” can be found at:
Updated to add links to pdf versions of dock files.
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
Southwark diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings
Our previous roundup was: Following up on the Green Report.
Since then, there wasn’t any proper debate on it at the General Synod.
Andrew Lightbown has continued to offer comment:
Both of these articles deserve to be read in full, and taken seriously by the management of the Church of England. Here is an excerpt, but do read both of them in full.
…Let’s have a look at the ‘Christian leadership tradition’ drawing on the Rule of Benedict…
In chapter 3 of his rule Benedict acknowledges that some decisions can only be taken by the most senior member of the community. Accordingly he places two obligations on the abbot or abbess:
- when any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery, the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and,
- the community should be summoned for such consultation because it often happens that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members. Benedict endorses, and actively seeks out, the ‘wisdom of youth.’ Does the Church?
Benedict also tells his audience that it is only ‘when questions of lesser importance arise in the concerns of the monastery,that the abbot or abbess should consult with seniors alone.’
If we accept Benedict’s logic and apply it – reasoning by analogy – to the ‘discussions’ around the Green Report we can only presume that the House of Bishops regard the identification and development of the next generation of leaders as a matter of ‘lesser importance!’ Matters to be discussed by the bishops alone…
The Revd Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
Q15 The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (15 February 2014) states:
“(25) The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.”
Given the high value the Church places on “theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity”, is the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission able to assure Synod that its policy and practice is, and will continue to be, that clergy who “fashion their lives consistently with [the Church’s] teaching” will not be barred from preferment on the grounds that they have argued for “a change in [the Church‟s] teaching on marriage and human sexuality”?
The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A Yes. When candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues is, however, among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment.
Jo Spreadbury: I just wanted to clarify what current policy and practice is and what it might continue to be if I may, to ask, having directed the CNC not to vote for one of the candidates in the Exeter and the Edmundsbury appointment processes because of the effect on the Anglican Communion, will Your Grace continue to use what amounts to an unconstitutional veto in future appointments?
Archbishop of Canterbury: I really can’t comment on what goes on in CNCs. We are bound by a promise of confidentiality which is strictly held in most cases. It is also the case that the Crown Appointments Secretary and the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary keep a close eye on and follow up anything that looks like a breach of normal practice.
This is one of the questions answered at General Synod on Tuesday. As an experiment at this group of sessions the questions and original answers were printed in a booklet and not read out, and the person answering merely referred to the printed answer. Any supplementaries were then taken orally, and I have transcribed these from the audio.
Mrs Anne Martin (Guildford) to ask the Secretary General:
Q46 Could the Secretary General please supply General Synod members with a list of all the Task Groups in existence (including those presenting reports in this Synod, those not presenting reports and the Spending Plans Task Group), along with their current membership?
Mr William Fittall to reply
A The reports of five Task Groups have been circulated to the Synod in connection with the February Group of Sessions, namely, Resourcing the Future (GS 1978), Resourcing Ministerial Education (GS 1979), Simplification (GS 1980), Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders (attached to GS 1982) and Optimising the Role of the NCIs (GS Misc 1094). The membership of the groups is included in each report.
It is difficult to produce a comprehensive list of other task groups because there is no standard definition of the term and groups can be established to undertake focused work in a wide variety of circumstances by any number of national bodies. I have, however, placed on the notice board the membership of the Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism, the Task Group on responsible Savings and Credit, the Spending Plans Task Group, the Turning up the Volume Group, the Church Buildings Review Group, the Environment Working Group and the Deployment Task Group.
Anne Martin: Thank your for the reply and the action taken. Can I also ask, will the terms of reference for each task group be made available to General Synod members?
William Fittall: We can certainly seek to do so. I think that the point, just to draw out, is that even at national level the Church of England is quite a complex institution and some people may have a fantasy that there is a sort of central air traffic control that ensures that all these bodies are set up in an orderly fashion with terms of reference and a single process for appointing members. The reality is that a lot of commissions, councils, boards and so on do set up groups to undertake particular tasks. So I can certainly try and assemble those for you, but it doesn’t all sit neatly on a database.
Vasantha Gnanadoss: Given that black and asian people are very poorly represented in the membership of the task groups will you encourage the people responsible for making appointments to do better in future?
William Fittall: I think in an earlier question there was a reference to guidance that the Appointments Committee has produced on making appointments, and that does very much make the point that’s just been expressed in relation to diversity, and that guidance does apply to all appointments, not just those for which the Appointments Committee itself is responsible. So that is a long way of saying yes.
This last answer refers to an earlier question, which is given below the fold.
The Revd Canon Jane Charman (Salisbury) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
Q25 Given that around 80% of the membership of the Task Groups is male, including all the Chairs:
The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A I agree that an 80/20 gender balance in most contexts isn’t good enough. In the case of the task groups it did not help that, despite progress in recent years, women remain under-represented not only among archdeacons, other senior clergy and of course bishops but also among others who have important contributions to make to exercises of this kind-such as diocesan chairs of finance and diocesan secretaries. The responsibility for these appointments rested with the Archbishops, not the Appointments Committee. So, it is for us to do better in future and for many others to help us by getting more women into the roles from which these sorts of groups tend to be drawn.
Jane Charman: For clarification the guidelines I am referring to are in GS Misc 963 and covered by Standing Order 116. Since they so helpfully pilot us through all those issues such as diversity, balance, and mix of skills and experience which so often catch the best of us unawares will the Archbishop now direct that in future they should always be used by everyone in making appointments to groups which serve the national church?
Archbishop of Canterbury: I think I will need to take advice on that question; I’m not even sure that I am allowed to direct such a thing and I would need to know that. I do feel looking at the mix on the task groups that I agree with the stress of the question and I apologise for the failure.
Anne Foreman: Since we are beginning to explore and experience new ways of being Synod could some creative thinking go into finding women of wisdom and experience within the church, but not necessarily in the particular roles that are mentioned in the answer? They do exist.
Archbishop of Canterbury: We don’t have to look far, I entirely agree with you and the answer is yes.
The Church of England issued this statement today.
Statement on the work of Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint
13 February 2015
The Church of England have today issued the following statement:
“The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are grateful to Lord Green for the contribution and expertise that he has brought to the work of the group on leadership training and formation. The leadership report stands on its own merits: it is about preparation and consideration for appointment to posts of wide responsibility, pastoral care of those being considered and a means of ensuing proper inclusion across the whole range of the church. The report was completed and submitted before the current media focus on historic allegations against HSBC at the time Lord Green was either CEO or Chairman.
In the recent coverage concerning Lord Green none of the reports suggest there is evidence that he personally encouraged or orchestrated any scheme of tax evasion. The Church of England’s opposition to tax evasion or aggressive tax management strategies remains firm. The reported actions of HSBC Switzerland were wrong and there is obviously deep concern about the issues revealed.
Lord Green’s involvement in the production of the report on leadership development has been valuable and the Archbishops thank him for his contribution to this important ongoing work for the Church of England.”
The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15 had its second reading in the House of Lords on Thursday. The verbatim Hansard record of the debate is here.
The remaining House of Lords stages are scheduled for 26 February (Committee stage) and 12 March (Report stage).
There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.
Speech on draft safeguarding legislation by Geoffrey Tattersall
Speech on the report on mission and growth in the rural church by the Bishop of Knaresborough
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Suicides can receive Anglican funerals, says General Synod
No sin, no devil: Church of England debates its baptismal liturgy
There is now an “official website for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality taking place in the Church of England” here.
The information already on the site includes:
FAQs - How are participants selected?
What is the intended outcome of the Shared Conversations?
How is the safety of participants in the Shared Conversations being protected?
St Michael’s House Protocols - to govern the conversations
Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published have been published today.
Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published
12 February 2015
The Church of England has today published a set of resources called ‘Grace and Disagreement’ for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Sexuality.
The first booklet outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church. The second booklet comprises four essays, with varying views, which participants in the conversations are asked to read prior to taking part in the conversations.
The resources are available here.
The available resources are two booklets.
The first booklet, which can be downloaded here, outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church.
The second booklet, download here, comprises four essays, including two on scripture, which participants in the conversations are asked to read.
General Synod met privately in groups this morning.
The afternoon session was entirely devoted to a series of four debates on discipleship and issues arising from the Task Group reports; the official summary is here: General Synod Feb 15: Wednesday afternoon.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and representatives of other member churches press the button to launch the Churches Mutual Credit Union. (photograph by Peter Owen)
The Churches Mutual Credit Union was formally launched at Church House today.
Church House issued this press release to mark the occasion.
Churches Mutual Credit Union formally launched
11 February 2015
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s drive to promote access to responsible credit and savings receives a major boost today with the launch of the Churches Mutual Credit Union Ltd. (CMCU).
The Most Rev Justin Welby joined the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev John Chalmers and the President of the Methodist Conference, The Rev Ken Howcroft, at Church House, central London, to celebrate their respective churches’ collaboration in forming the flagship credit union.
The CMCU, which also includes the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church in Wales, will offer a range of savings and loan products. Fairness will be at the heart of the CMCU’s values. Initially members will be able to invest in the ‘Founder Member’s Bond’ with ordinary savers accounts and loans becoming available in March. In due course CMCU will offer ISA savings accounts.
At least 60,000 individuals, notably ordained ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders, employees and trustees of churches (e.g. Parochial Church Council members) and church charities are eligible to join, along with churches and Anglican and Church of Scotland charities as corporate members.
Individuals can join CMCU from tomorrow (Thursday February 12).
Archbishop Justin said: “My congratulations go to all involved in establishing the Churches Mutual Credit Union as it is launched today.
“Credit unions have the potential to make a transformative contribution to our financial system and I am delighted that it will be possible for clergy, church employees and church trustees to belong to a credit union focused on supporting their particular financial needs.
“As the first supporter to sign CMCU’s application to the regulator in 2013 I am looking forward to being one of the first to sign up as a member when registration opens tomorrow.
“It is a notable strength of CMCU that it brings together churches from England, Scotland and Wales in this shared venture.
“I hope and expect that the experience of belonging to CMCU will encourage clergy and church workers to become increasingly effective advocates for credit unions in their communities.”
Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, CMCU President, and a former President of ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd) said: “After several years of development this is a great day for our churches and a great day for the British credit union sector.
“We recognise the strength of the credit union model and wish to offer that to our ministers and employees. Of immediate interest to many, especially ordained ministers, will be our plans to provide a competitive car loan scheme.
“The Church forms an obvious community with many shared interests and as such it has a natural fit with the idea of a credit union. The recycling of capital within the community, not least for mission, will be of benefit to all.”
The CMCU project began in 2008 and is supported by the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church and the Church in Wales.
The CMCU was given formal authorisation by the regulatory authorities in December, after a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers deposits up to £85,000.
Updated Wednesday and Thursday
Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod Feb 15: Tuesday afternoon
Today’s Questions and Answers (but not the supplementaries) are online.
Press Association (in The Guardian) Church of England questioned over ‘lavish’ spending on bishops’ homes
General synod cartoon by Dave Walker
Carey Lodge Christian Today Archbishop Justin Welby: Evangelism is vital to the Church
Jack Sommers Huffington Post Church Of England Warned It Could Disappear From Parts Of Britain Within A Decade
Church House press release
Archbishop Warda addresses Synod about the persecution of Christians in Iraq
10 February 2015
Christianity in Iraq is going through one of the worst and hardest stages of its long history, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil, Iraq, has told the General Synod.
In an address at Church House, Westminster, Archbishop Bashar Warda said Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee their villages during the past year are in “desperate” need of financial and material support.
The Archbishop’s speech is available here.
Archbishop Justin Welby gave the presidential address to the General Synod this afternoon.
Read the full text of the address here.
In his presidential address to Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about evangelism and witness, one of the three priority areas of his ministry.
The next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham is to be the Right Reverend Paul Williams, it was announced by Number 10 this morning.
Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham: Right Reverend Paul Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published:10 February 2015
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams, BA, Area Bishop of Kensington, in the Diocese of London, for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Roger Butler, BA, on his translation to the See of Durham on 20 January 2014.
Notes for editors
Paul Williams (aged 47) studied at Grey College, University of Durham and trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title curacy at St James Muswell Hill in the Diocese of London from 1992 to 1995 and then as Associate Vicar at Christ Church Clifton, Bristol from 1995 to 1999. From 1999 to 2009 he was Rector of St James Gerrards Cross with Fulmer in South Buckinghamshire and an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford from 2007 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Area Bishop of Kensington, with oversight for the mission of the church across a diverse and dynamic part of West London, covering 6 boroughs. Paul has made a wider contribution in the area of church growth, leadership training, schools development and the church’s ministry among children and younger people.
Paul is married to Sarah, and they have 3 sons, Edward (16), Thomas (14) and Joseph (12). They are also foster carers for their local borough and have a close engagement in wider issues relating to the care of looked-after children. Paul’s leisure interests encompass a number of sports, especially football and cricket. He grew up in the West County where his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was among the first women to be an ordained priest in 1994.
The Bishop of Sheffield has issued this clarification of the financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education.
General Synod begins tomorrow and we are just a day or so away from the initial debate on Resourcing Ministerial Education.
My attention has been drawn to a couple of posts and circulars about RME which attempt to argue that the proposals, if agreed, signal “an end to residential training”.
This is very wide of the mark indeed. I look forward to answering the points raised fully in the Synod debate but it may help Synod members and others to have a few points of clarification in advance.
The RME Report is very clear that we are looking to see a very significant increase in the numbers of ordinands in training and that we see the importance of all current forms of training pathways (including residential training) as part of the mixed economy.
The Report is also very clear that this uplift in the numbers in training cannot be achieved without a significant increase in the total resource allocated (we have worked with a figure of a 50% increase in funding or £10 million per annum to correspond with the potential 50% increase in ordinands).
The overall background to the Report is therefore about growth and confidence in the sector not about erosion. Nor is the RME report about doing more with less resource but about increasing resource commensurate with the number of ordinands.
The anxiety which leads to some predicting (prematurely) the demise of residential training rests on some of the detailed proposals, particularly Proposals 6 and 7.
The Report signals clearly that all of these proposals will be subject to further detailed work and consultation with dioceses and TEI’s in the coming months. General Synod is not being asked to approve these proposals but to approve the general vision and direction of the Report.
Proposal 6 assigns a standard grant to each ordinand and proposes giving the diocese a larger role in decisions about training pathways. At present, the decision about pathways is entirely separate from the consequences in terms of costs. Under the RME proposals the diocese’s decision will be made within a framework in which Bishop’s Guidelines, the options available in training institutions and the candidate’s own vocation and preferences will all have a part. A diocese will be able to invest money not spent on one candidate’s training on another’s training and therefore able to fund candidates on both residential and non-residential pathways (as at present) providing we set the standard grant at the right level. Dioceses will have training budgets which have to be invested in the training of candidates – in others words there will be mitigating factors which will prevent this simply becoming a cost-cutting exercise.
Proposal 7 proposes discontinuing the pooling of maintenance grants for candidates families in training. Please note that we are not proposing discontinuing maintenance grants for families – simply the pooling of these costs (which currently amount to £5 million per annum or 25% of the total pooled IME budget of £20 million). This is a very large investment overall and again, one of the purposes of the proposal is to connect a decision about investment in a candidate’s support with the consequences of that decision. Dioceses will continue to have the discretion to invest the amount they currently invest in candidate support in the support of married students and their families. However dioceses may want to explore with students other means of support for candidates where this is a priority.
There is much still to be determined about how the funding will flow. This will be the subject of further consultation in the coming weeks.
However, we first need to establish through the Synod debates this week whether the General Synod will support the overall vision and acknowledge that additional funding will be needed to make it possible. Only when these prior questions have been answered will it be possible to explore in detail how the arrangements in Proposals 1-12 would work and the effect on institutions.
My own hope would be that as a result of the RME proposals we would see the number of ordinands rise overall and the number of candidates in residential training remain at at least its present level in terms of numbers. I therefore believe that residential training has a secure and long term future as a key part of the mixed economy of training the Church of England offers
As the next General Synod meeting approaches, where several questions have been tabled about the Green Report, there have also been several articles published about it.
Andrew Lightbown has written The Green Report: ‘authors of the apocalypse?’ I think so.
..It is so shot full of assumptions as to beggar belief. It is the product of romantic and lazy thinking, especially with respect to the ‘cult of the leader,’ and the capacity of business school style training to offer appropriate forms of training outside the world of business. (It has many other faults as well – but lets leave these to one side).
I hope the report disappears into the long grass never to be seen again.I strongly believe that the style of management, and leadership, training it proposes will do real and long lasting damage to the Church and, therefore society for, a healthy society needs a healthy church.
My reasoning is that the proposals seek to mimic a mode of training that has caused significant damage in the corporate world…
Mike Higton has adopted a different approach in a series of five articles headed Re-Reading the Green Report, in which
Rather than setting out yet another critique, I want to try for retrieval and repair.
The five articles are:
Andrew Lightbown has a response: Four questions to ask of the Green Review at Synod.
I’ve enjoyed Mike Higton’s blogs on the Green Review. I appreciate his analysis of the text and, the reconciliatory tone he adopts. I agree with the majority of what he says and, I hope Synod take on board his critique.
I have read, and re-read, the report and still find it difficult to accept that its recommendations can do anything other than damage the common good. My starting point has always been that the recommendations are an extension of the authors subjective biases and assumptions.
Below are four sets of questions which I hope might be useful when debating the report at Synod next week…
Forward in Faith has launched a new website. As their own announcement says:
The new Resources section includes detailed advice to PCCs and Parish Priests about passing a Resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, together with leaflets and other resources to facilitate consideration of the issues. There is also a full commentary on the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
Here are links to some of the new materials:
And there is more. Worth a look.
from the Forward in Faith website:
The Ordination of the Bishop of Burnley
Forward in Faith expresses its gratitude to the Archbishop of York for making arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley’s ordination which gave full expression to the Guiding Principles enshrined in the House of Bishops’ Declaration.
The first Guiding Principle speaks of the respect and canonical obedience that lawful office-holders deserve. The Archbishop of York presided in York Minister and the Bishop of Burnley took the oath of due obedience to him. No one present could have been in any doubt as to the Archbishop’s metropolitical authority or the respect in which he is held.
The fourth and fifth Guiding Principles embody commitments to enabling those who, for theological reasons, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests to flourish, and to making sacramental and pastoral provision for us ‘in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing’.
The reference to a ‘degree of communion’ recognizes that full communion cannot exist where some bishops and priests are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of others. For over twenty years traditional catholic priests have been granted ordination by bishops with whom they enjoy full communion (because they can receive the ministry of all the priests whom those bishops ordain). The ordination of women as bishops gives rise to a need for similar provision for ordination to the episcopate. Such arrangements contribute to enabling our priests and bishops to flourish, allowing them to experience at the moment of ordination the full communion with the ordaining bishops that all other ordinands enjoy.
We are grateful that the service in York Minster was nevertheless characterized by a very high degree of communion and fellowship, expressed not least in the fact that all could receive communion together.
The arrangements determined by the Archbishop of York also contributed to ‘mutual flourishing’. We trust that no one imagines that the flourishing of traditional catholic ordinands could involve their being ordained by bishops whose sacramental ministry they cannot receive. If all the male bishops present had participated in the laying on of hands, the Bishop of Stockport (whose gracious presence we acknowledge with gratitude) would therefore have been alone in having to refrain from doing so. It would be difficult to see that as an expression of ‘mutual flourishing’.
Plainly, a future female Archbishop of York could not be the principal consecrator of a traditional catholic bishop. By delegating that ministry to the Bishop of Chichester, Archbishop Sentamu has ensured that there need be no difference between his role on this occasion and that of a future female archbishop. We hope that those who support the ordination of women as bishops will agree with us that any such distinction should be avoided.
+ TONY PONTEFRACT
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Philip North was consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in York Minster today.
Diocese of Blackburn Consecration of the Eleventh Bishop of Burnley at York Minster
The Archbishop of York wrote in the Yorkshire Post today about the arrangements for the consecration: Church can find a way to defeat fear and suspicion.
This article is also available on the Archbishop’s website: Bishops in the Church of God in England.
The Diocese of Blackburn has published an album of photographs.
Madeleine Davies Church Times This shows there’s a future for us, says new traditionalist Bishop
Updated Tuesday morning
As we noted earlier, there appeared to be a discrepancy between what the Telegraph had reported the Bishop of Swindon as saying on Friday and the subsequent article that appeared in the Comment is free article on Saturday, listing him as joint author with Brendan McCarthy. Here is the full text of the emails sent to the Telegraph.
Church of England statement on Thursday
The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England accepts in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is under taken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.
“Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time.
“The Church of England has responded to the latest Government consultation and awaits further consultation on this issue in due course.”
full text of Bishop of Swindon statement to Telegraph on Friday
As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible. That is not my understanding of our position and does not do justice to the response given on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council to the public consultation conducted by the HFEA. That response was largely affirming but properly raised concerns about safety, possible interactions between the mitochondria and nucleus which were not well understood, and not opening the door to modifications of the nuclear DNA.
Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the HFEA for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised.
What is perhaps not well understood – and this may lie behind the caution expressed in your report and headline - is that changing the law to permit mitochondrial replacement will not mean it becomes immediately available in a clinic as soon as the legislation is passed. If Parliament does authorise this technique an Expert Group will continue to monitor and seek evidence around safety and efficacy; only when there is sufficient reassurance around these matters will applications for licencing be admitted.
Church of England later statement following Wellcome Trust intervention:
The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England is aware of the complex ethical issues raised over the possibility of mitochondrial replacement therapy and the extensive scientific research that has been carried out in this field over the years.
“Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.
“We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.
“A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed. For example, the two proposed techniques involved in MRT are not ethically identical - little debate has been given to this. The Church has participated in the debate at every stage, making submissions to consultations run by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the HFEA and the Department of Health as well as participating in relevant seminars and workshops.
“Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy.”
And yet both of them apparently signed this article.
The BBC website has an interview with Brendan McCarthy which you can view here.
The Guardian has an editorial comment (unsurprisingly in favour of the legislative proposal) which includes the following:
The two churches are urging MPs to vote against treatments that will give some parents their only chance of a healthy baby. The Catholics charge a process to create a healthy, wanted embryo from two fertilised eggs – one unwanted, one unsafe – with destroying both. The Church of England, or at least the apparatchik who seems to be speaking for it, is demanding “absolute certainty” that the new procedures will work, a test that would bar any advance in medicine ever. Despite regulations, drafted after years of research and debate, that require separate scrutiny and approval for every individual seeking treatment, both churches shriek about a dash into the unknown.
Organised religion is doing such a bad job of explaining what it doesn’t like about “mitochondrial donation” that it’s tempting to conclude that there is no ethical issue at all, merely the same sort of superstition that once fuelled moral panics about heart transplants. But in calmer mood, the churches could have produced three potentially more serious objections – none of which, however, are persuasive in the end…
The following article is reproduced, with permission, from the January 2015 edition of New Directions.
Positive Mission. Reach out
Philip North identifies some opportunities for community ministry for smaller churches
Our past can inspire. But it can also imprison and restrict. One aspect of our past that we love to recall as Anglo-Catholics is the stories of the great social reformers who fought poverty, stood with the poor and modelled the Incarnational faith that is at the heart of what we believe. People like Fr Jellicoe who invented the housing association through rebuilding the vermin-infested slum that was Somers Town in the thirties. Or Fr Lowder and his heroic ministry caring for the poor and the sick in London’s East End. Or the All Saints Sisters who alone had the courage to feed and care for cholera victims on the streets of Plymouth.
We could go on and on telling these wonderful stories. They can and should inspire us in our own ministry today. But the problem is all too often they don’t. Rather than inspiring they leave us feeling inadequate. Where are the priests and religious today who are founding hospitals, rebuilding entire estates, forming schools and pioneering social care for the most vulnerable? It is so easy to feel weedy and second-rate compared to the heroes of the past.
But of course things are not quite so easy for us today. In a nation with a National Health Service, state education, social services and a highly developed voluntary sector, it is much harder for us to identify needs and work out where the Church fits in. Churches in areas of greatest deprivation tend to be the weakest, with limited resources and small, ageing congregations, and so it can be extremely hard for priests to know where to start or what to do. All too often this can lead to insularity and inactivity, with churches frightened to reach out in any meaningful way beyond their own doors.
More important than ever
And yet community ministry is more essential now than ever. The question that a post-modern generation asks of the Gospel is not ‘Is this true?’ but ‘How is this being lived out?’ Churches grow when they authenticate the Gospel that they proclaim through practical action. The Church of England is obsessed with the search for a superficial ‘relevance.’ Yet we find renewed trust and credibility not by changing our doctrines to suit the perceived needs of a secular culture, but when we stand alongside the poor. This is the lesson that Pope Francis is so powerfully teaching us.
By thinking intelligently and using resources wisely and well, even the smallest churches can do something to reach out the hand of love into the communities they serve. Here are some potential starting places.
It is impossible to meet the needs of a community if we are not clear what they are. Jesus begins most of his encounters through asking questions and listening, and that is a lesson that we need to learn. We are often too quick to leap to conclusions and tell people ‘what they need,’ but without proper listening our conclusions could be way off beam.
There are structured ways of listening. For example, many parishes conduct a community audit in which they carry out intellectual research on the parish, organize round tables of local professionals and arrange community meetings to allow people to have their say. It is a great approach if you have the resources to do it, but frankly most of us don’t.
A more sensible approach might be a Citizens UK style Listening Campaign. Quite simply, a small team of clergy and laypeople initiate as many conversations as possible in which people are asked three questions. What is good about living in this area? What is challenging? What changes would you like to see? When those who are doing the listening start to compare what they have heard, issues will begin to emerge. It was from a simple conversation like that some laypeople from St Michael’s Camden Town realized that there was a pressing need for free legal advice in our area for those who cannot afford solicitors’ fees. The result was a legal drop-in set up with a local law firm which now offers advice to upwards of twenty people a week. Good listening leads to appropriate action.
Making use of buildings
There was a time when the Church started to feel embarrassed about large buildings in deprived communities and it was all the rage clumsily to convert them so that they could be ‘multi-use spaces.’ Fortunately today we have recovered our confidence. The greatest contribution that a local church makes to its community is prayer and worship, and so making the Church building available is the start of effective community ministry.
The best approach is simply to leave the building open as much as possible for people to use, and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which encourages this practice, has plenty of advice on how to overcome the obvious security problems that this will cause. there may be other ways of using the building for arts events, schools, concerts and groups of older people. Church halls also provide space where community groups can meet. Once people realize that the local church is generous with its buildings and wants to see them opened up and used, it is amazing what the results can be.
Witnesses in daily life
A group of older members of a congregation I once cared for were complaining one day about the young families. ‘Everything in this Church is down to us. Why don’t those young ones ever do anything?’ I tried to point out that the younger ones were bringing up children and witnessing to their faith in the workplace, but it did not convince. We find it very hard to see the Kingdom at work in activities that are not very clearly labelled ‘Church.’
Yet Christians have families. They go to work. They live in neighbourhoods. They stand in Post Office queues. They are school governors and volunteers. A much overlooked aspect of community ministry is enabling laypeople to live out their faith and bear witness in these mundane, daily activities. We need to help people to see that their Christian duties do not stop when they walk out of the church door.
Partners and volunteers
Your church may not have the strength to set up dynamic new projects or fundraise for ambitious new pieces of work. But there will certainly be others in your parish who are seeking to do so and need some help. The Vatican II documents talk about working with men and women of goodwill, even if they are not Christians, in order to build the Kingdom.
We can surprisingly easily form friendships and constructive partnerships with those on the front line. We can volunteer our services to schools and community groups. The Church is ideally placed to convene meetings of local community workers and offer support. In these ways we are building our presence without taking on unmanageable responsibilities.
Doing what we can
The more we get stuck into our neighbourhoods, the more the gaps in existing provision will begin to emerge. It is vital not to feel intimidated by the perceived need to do something massively bold or ambitious. Doing one thing well is enough for a smaller church.
It may be housing rough sleepers one night a week in partnership with others in a winter night-shelter. It may be offering lunch one day a week in the school holidays for children who receive free meals at school. It may be setting up a group for parents and toddlers. It may be training a few people as debt counsellors with the local credit union. What you do depends on context. But the pride and sense of purpose that a small church can gain from a community project is out of all proportion to the effort invested. It makes people think afresh about what and who the Church is for.
The interesting thing about community ministry is that people want it. On the whole the voluntary sector, local authorities and schools want the Church involved and will be enormously encouraging. By overcoming our fear, listening and then acting wisely, we can very easily place our churches back at the centre of the communities we serve. And the benefits of that can be transformational.
Joint Statement by Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests on the consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley
Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests are disappointed at the Archbishop of York’s decision not to lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley, and the decision that only three bishops - none of whom ordains women - will lay on hands.
Whilst recognising that this is the Archbishop’s prerogative, the decision is particularly difficult to understand given that the Bishop of Burnley is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Blackburn and as such will share in responsibility for female clergy in the Diocese and for parishes which welcome the sacramental ministry of women. We are especially exercised that the Bishop of Burnley’s own Diocesan Bishop will apparently not be laying on hands.
Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise and commend the Church of England’s affirmation that those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests should be enabled to flourish within its life and structures. However, we are concerned that the Archbishop of York’s decision does not exemplify the commitment “to maintain the highest possible degree of communion possible” which is articulated in the Five Guiding Principles agreed by General Synod and to which Forward in Faith has explicitly assented. This commitment must be lived out in the light of the first two principles:
The House of Bishops has emphasised that the Five Guiding Principles “need to be read one with the other and held in tension, rather than being applied selectively.” Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise that the living out of the principles will be complicated. However, Ministry Division has required that from November 2014, all candidates for ordination should explicitly assent to the Five Guiding Principles. It seems reasonable that such explicit assent should also be demonstrated by all those to be consecrated bishop.
Affirming Catholicism and SCP would therefore welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Burnley and from the Bishop of Blackburn confirming their commitment to the first two of the Five Guiding Principles agreed by the Church of England, and specifically affirming the Bishop of Burnley’s responsibilities towards the female clergy of the Diocese of Blackburn and to the parishes under his care who welcome the ordination of women. We would similarly welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Chester confirming the Bishop of Stockport’s assent to the Five Guiding Principles. Indeed, we believe that a case could be made that all licensed clergy in the Church of England should be expected so to assent.
1 February 2015
Updated twice Sunday morning
That was the headline on a news report in the Telegraph by Sarah Knapton Science Editor of that newspaper: Three parent baby law is ‘irresponsible’ says Church of England ahead of vote.
Introducing laws to allow three parent babies would be ‘irresponsible’ the Church of England has said ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons next week.
Next Tuesday, MPs will vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and legalise mitochondrial DNA transfer.
Until now the Anglican Church has withheld judgement on the issue, asking for more scientific evidence. But today it announced that it could not support the legislation…
A later report by her was headlined: Scientists accuse Church of ignorance over three parent babies.
Scientists have accused the church leaders of refusing to examine overwhelming evidence which shows that the creation of three parent babies is ethical and safe.
The Anglican and Catholic churches have both warned that it would irresponsible for MPs to pass new laws allowing the DNA of a ‘second mother’ to be used to repair genetic faults in an unborn child.
They have called for more scientific evidence to prove that the child will not inherit characteristics from the donor DNA.
But scientists have accused the church of ignoring reams of scientific evidence, and the outcome of a public consultation which showed widespread support for the new ground-breaking IVF treatment.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Mitochondrial donation raises important ethical questions on which the Church of England can be expected to take a view.
“But it is remarkable that the Church has pronounced that there has been insufficient scientific study without first asking the scientists who lead this research, the families who stand to benefit, or the Wellcome Trust, which funds it, to explain the science to the Archbishop’s Council.
“The Church appears to have ignored the unprecedented independent scrutiny of scientific, ethical and public opinion about mitochondrial donation conducted over the last seven years.”
The report goes on to say that:
However the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, said he was backing the legislation change.
“As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible,” he said.
“Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised. “
The official Church of England statement: Statement from Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy on Mitochondrial replacement therapy.
This links to the Mission and Public Affairs Council submission from May 2014 on mitochondrial replacement to the Department of Health consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques to prevent the transmission of a serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child.
And the strongly worded statement issued by the Wellcome Trust which was quoted in the second article in the Telegraph is available in full via this tweet.
Despite being quoted in the Telegraph earlier as shown above, the Bishop of Swindon is now apparently the joint author, with Brendan McCarthy, of an article on Comment is free entitled The Church of England and the three-parent controversy.
It does not take much to present the Church of England as divided, ignorant or out of touch. As the archbishop of Canterbury has observed, we do tend to conduct our arguments loudly and in front of the neighbours. But that does not mean we cannot agree and in the matter of the provocatively labelled “three parent embryos” there is greater consensus than recent headlines might suggest and a very different message from “the church says ‘no’.”
The Archbishops’ Council, through its division for mission and public affairs (MPA), has taken a keen interest in assisted reproductive technologies since their inception and sought to think through their implications for human identity and responsibility. In this task, the Church of England has sought to help wider society to reach wise judgments and hold tensions that can pull in different ethical directions. It has involved wrestling with dilemmas, quarrying our theological resources and discerning when a risk is not worth taking – and when it must be.
Mitochondrial replacement represents a novel way of enabling women at risk of passing on serious genetic disease to bear healthy children and prevent the passage of that abnormality to further generations. In 2012, the government asked the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority (HFEA) to seek the views of the public on two techniques for mitochondrial replacement. One of us was invited on to the oversight body for this consultation, a group that brought together a cross-section of stakeholders with hugely different attitudes and convictions…
There is also a further news report in the Observer today, by Robin McKie its Science Editor: Scientists strike back at Church of England over DNA transfer trials.
One of the most prominent supporters of a DNA technique designed to eradicate a range of inherited diseases has angrily condemned Church of England claims that MPs were being rushed into a vote to back the process. Consultation had been exemplary, he claimed.
Professor Douglas Turnbull, a Newcastle University scientist who works with women affected by mitochondrial disease, warned that this week’s parliamentary vote could be the UK’s last chance to pioneer the technique.
“I am glad this government has chosen to go ahead with a vote, but I am concerned about how that might play out,” he says. “A good number of MPs don’t appear to like the idea of mitochondrial transfer. If they vote it down then I think the technology could be lost for ever. We are due a new government and when it comes in, it will have other priorities. We may never get this chance again.”
And that would be a tragedy, he believes. There is no cure for mitochondrial disease, which is passed on to children from mothers who possess mutations in the DNA of the mitochondria in their bodies’ cells. The disease varies in its severity as it passes from generation to generation but can often be fatal.
But on Saturday, the church hit back at the criticism. The bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, and Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the church’s medical ethics adviser, said it retained concerns about the possible interactions between DNA in mitochondria and the main DNA in a patient’s cell nucleus. “We want to ensure that as a nation we get such a significant treatment and its regulation right…”
And the Observer has editorial comment:
…We should therefore be clear: the issue facing MPs is the alleviation of the plight of several thousand women in Britain whose mitochondrial DNA puts them at severe risk of giving birth to offspring who will sicken and die. Mitochondrial replacement is a highly specific technique that has been developed to counter that illness and no other. There is no link between its development and the creation of a future in which reckless scientists toy with the genetic profiles of men and women and it is grossly unfair to use conjecture in order to taint a medical technique that will be carefully controlled and licensed and which offers so much to afflicted families.
It is a point that was raised in a letter to the Times last week by a group of the country’s most distinguished scientists and ethicists, including Baroness Warnock and Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston. They made it clear that the question facing parliamentarians on Tuesday is not whether they would want to use the technique themselves but whether there are good grounds to prevent affected families from doing so.
The answer to this point is unequivocal. There is no reasonable ethical justification in stopping families who are affected by the blight of this disease being given access to mitochondrial replacement. MPs therefore have a clear moral duty when they vote on Tuesday. They should approve the measure.
WATCH published this statement yesterday.
Statement on the consecration arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley on 2nd February 2015
Posted on January 29, 2015
We rejoice that as a result of the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane the Church of England is living in a new era. We therefore recognise that these are early days in finding expression of the five guiding principles in practices that reflect the highest possible degree of communion. Decisions made now will inevitably come under scrutiny. As actions are tested within the community of the Church, we will all be reflecting upon them, and on the shape of mature practices that will in due course emerge to express wide communion and enable mutual flourishing. It will not be easy to do this well, but WATCH is committed to making a constructive contribution to this process from the perspective of its own core principles. For the moment that involves asking sharp questions about this particular consecration, and asking that reflection be done on those questions in a way which engages the wider church as well as those immediately involved.
We recognize that the Archbishop has had very difficult decisions to make about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley, and we know that he will have thought and prayed deeply about those decisions. This is the first significant test in practice of the Five Principles contained in the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and is therefore highly significant.
Given all of this, we would value an explanation of how the Archbishop reached his decision to be present but not to consecrate. We acknowledge that this is based in a wish to offer Christian generosity towards the dissenting minority. However, we are concerned about the theological and ecclesiological implications of this decision and its impact on the unity of the Church of England. Consecrations are public moments, of great significance, and the actions that take place within those rites, as with all Anglican rites, declare our belief as a Church, as much as any written documents. The visual symbol of a divided House of Bishops is a very powerful one, given how hard we have all worked to stay together in one church.
The Five Principles are the basis from which good practice needs to be worked out. In many cases it will not be straightforward to know how best to enable mutual flourishing within the highest degree of communion possible. Our hope is that when decisions are made which purport to aid the flourishing of all they will be carefully tested in terms of the perceptions they will create and their consequences, including the pain and offence they may cause. In our view, male bishops and archbishops will need to exercise particular diligence in this respect, as their common practice is so rooted in a previous male-only era. This will require significant efforts to hear the disparate views of all those most affected, and to help them listen to each other and work out a solution that all can assent to. It would be good to know that such collective wrestling underpins this decision.
What might the Archbishop’s decision to refrain from consecrating a bishop indicate? At the least, it appears to be a tacit endorsement of the rationale that his active laying on of hands would not be welcome by the candidate or a particular constituency that he represents. Given that, we believe it would be very helpful for the House of Bishops to invite the Faith and Order Commission to examine and explore this rationale and the theology underpinning it. That might help those who are perplexed to comprehend it, and therefore be more able to honour the faithfulness of its adherents.
Our greatest sadness is that the word ‘taint’ is in the atmosphere again. However much dissenters refute this as a basis for their beliefs, it is very hard to overcome the perception that because the Archbishop has consecrated a female bishop, he is now unacceptable as a consecrator of a dissenting bishop. This concept causes such deep damage to all of us but it cannot be avoided in these circumstances. We all know the message this conveys to members of the Church and wider society about how women are perceived.
All these issues have particular resonance in this case, as the Bishop of Burnley is a bishop for the whole church, not a PEV. We are concerned that he should be affirmed and upheld through his consecration as a bishop for the people of Blackburn Diocese, not as a bishop whose ministry will be directed solely towards the dissenting minority. He will share the cure of souls across Blackburn Diocese with female and male priests, and will minister across all parishes.
We are very aware of the individuals involved in this case who may find themselves in a spotlight that is unwelcome and unexpected. We pray particularly for them, and for grace and strength to live and speak faithfully in such demanding circumstances.
The website of York Minster carries this notice.
The Service of Consecration for the Reverend Philip North
Tuesday 27 January
The Reverend Philip North, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley on Monday 2nd February 2015.
The Reverend Philip North, currently Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in the Diocese of London, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in the Diocese of Blackburn on Monday 2nd February 2015. The service will be conducted by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, assisted by the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester and the Bishops of Beverley and Pontefract.
Everyone is welcome to attend Philip’s consecration service. The service will begin at 11am with doors open from 9.30am. If you are a Reader or a member of the clergy wishing to attend and would like to robe and process, we do need to know in advance so we can plan seating for you and maximise seating for others. Please contact Hilary Reynolds email: email@example.com for more information.
Although the notice does not explicitly say so, it seems reasonable to deduce that the Bishops of Chichester, Beverley and Pontefract are the three bishops who will lay hands on Philip North, and that the Bishop of Chichester will preside at the Eucharist.
Updated Monday evening and Tuesday morning
Rt Revd Libby Lane consecrated at York Minster
26 January 2015
The Rt Revd Libby Lane has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster today attended by more than 100 bishops from the Church of England and women bishops from across the Anglican Communion.
In a statement shortly after being consecrated, Bishop Libby said she had been encouraged by the thousands of messages of support she has received since the news of her appointment was announced. She said:
“Archbishop Sentamu has observed, “the way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties.” Today is an occasion of prayer and of party - and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both. I cannot properly express how encouraged I have been in the weeks since the announcement of my nomination, by the thousands of messages I have received with words of congratulation, support and wisdom. I’ve heard from people of all ages, women and men - people I have known for years, and people I have never met; people from down the road, and people from across the world.
“Many those who have been in touch have little or no contact with the Church of England; not all have been people of faith, but every one of them has felt this moment marks something important. That all this personal - and media - attention has centred on me has been a little overwhelming: I cannot possibly live up to everyone’s expectation. And so today, at my consecration, I hold on to words of promise from the Bible, a reassurance that all this does not depend on me … ‘the God who calls you is faithful: He will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
“My consecration service is not really about me. With echoes of practice which has been in place for hundreds of years in the church, it is a reminder that what I am about to embark on is shared by the bishops around me, by those who have gone before me and those who will come after. It places the ministry of a bishop in the context of the ministry of all God’s people. And most importantly it retells the good news of Jesus, the faithful one, who calls each of us to follow him.
“Thank you to all who are praying for me and partying with me today. Please continue to hold me in your prayers as, after the example of St Timothy and St Titus who are celebrated by the Church on this day, I share in work of proclaiming the gospel, in word and action, and bearing witness to the name of Jesus.”
Early press reports (some of which give undue prominence to the lone protester)
Andrew Brown The Guardian First female Church of England bishop consecrated in York
John Bingham The Telegraph Vicar tries to stop Rev Libby Lane being consecrated as Church of England’s first female bishop
Roisin O’Connor The Independent Libby Lane formally appointed first woman bishop by Church Of England
Claer Barrett Financial Times Church of England ordains first woman bishop
Dave Walker I have modified my ‘Bishops’ cartoon
Gavin Drake Church Times C of E’s first woman bishop consecrated
York Mix 12 marvellous moments from the service to ordain #BishopLibby [pictures]
Andrew Brown The Guardian Libby Lane: not quite a Viking raid, but York sees history in the Minster
Jessica Elgot Huffington Post First Woman Bishop Ordained By Church Of England As Libby Lane Made Bishop Of Stockport [pictures]
Sally Hitchener The Independent Libby Lane’s appointment as the first female bishop might have been understated, but its importance echoes around the world
Carey Lodge Christian Today First woman bishop Libby Lane: ‘Pray for me as I share in the work of proclaiming the gospel’
BBC News In pictures: Church of England’s first woman bishop consecration [pictures]
Chester diocesan website Libby Lane is now Bishop of Stockport
And one piece of trivia. This is the bible presented to the new bishop: Nicholas King’s complete translation of his Study Bible. [h/t Helen-Ann Hartley]
Updated Monday morning
The Revd Libby Lane will be consecrated as Bishop of Stockport in York Minster tomorrow (Monday) morning.
The Church of England has this published this interview. “Recorded on the day her appointment was announced, it has behind the scenes footage and a previously unseen interview with Libby as she reflects on her faith journey, and looks ahead to her new challenge.”
Jamie Doward and Aduke King The Observer First female bishop: I want to be a role model for girls
Matthew Davis Manchester Evening News New Bishop of Stockport to be consecrated at York Minster on Monday
[Despite what this article says, I can find no scheduled live broadcast of the consecration.]
Bosco Peters Anglo-Donatism
Oliver Coss The Suffragan See of Burnley
Earlier articles here.
Archbishop of York
Thursday 22nd January 2015
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has today issued the following statement:
With great joy and thanksgiving the Church of England will, in the next two weeks, see the consecration of two fine priests, The Revd Libby Lane, and The Revd Philip North as bishops, respectively, of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, and of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. Nothing should be allowed to constrain our joy, our prayers and our thanksgiving, on either occasion….
Follow this link for the full text of the statement, including a version of the note sent earlier to Northern bishops, and a republication of GS Misc 1079.
Updated third time Thursday morning
Yesterday, Christian Today published the following article by Ruth Gledhill: Consecration of traditionalist bishop set to highlight Church of England divisions
As the consecration of the first female bishop approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest…
And Ruth noted that:
Twenty-four hours later, there has still been no comment from any of these sources. Nor from Forward in Faith or The Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.
There have been two blog articles though:
Archdruid Eileen has published At the Multiple Episcopal Consecration
Jonathan Clatworthy has published A woman’s touch and spiritual danger
I will add links to any further official or other statements about this that I discover.
WATCH has now issued a statement:
Press Release Wednesday 21st Jan 2015
WATCH Statement on Consecrations
Next Monday the Church of England and the nation will rejoice at the consecration of Rev Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England. That will be a great day, and nothing should detract from that moment of affirmation for all women in all walks of life.
We have known about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley for some time, but have not commented publicly out of courtesy to the individuals involved. Our focus has been on the earlier consecration as the fulfillment of a long and deeply held desire by so many, and as a source of good news from the Church.
We are dismayed that it seems that the Archbishop of York will not lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley. We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the eucharist.
We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops at the moment of consecration. The Bishop of Burnley is a suffragan bishop, and not a PEV: he is a minister for the whole Church of England in the Diocese of Blackburn and the people of that diocese are looking forward to working with him across the traditions.
We will issue a statement on the wider ramifications of this in due course.
A reader of Thinking Anglicans who had written to the Archbishop of York has received a reply from his office, which is copied in full below the fold.
Two more blog articles:
Benny Hazlehurst Apostolic Regression
Kelvin Holdsworth One step forward, two giant leaps back – the English Episcopate
Janet Henderson Woman’s Touch Not Welcome
According to the CofE Daily Media Digest, The Times [paywall] reports inter alia that:
…the church has yet to confirm whether Dr Sentamu and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, will join the service but adds that Dr Sentamu’s most senior aide said last night that Mr North had not insisted on the arrangement himself.
Thank you for writing about the Consecration of the new Bishop of Burnley. Arrangements have been made carefully according to the plans put before General Synod in July last year.
Paper GS Misc 1079, Women in the Episcopate, A Note from the Archbishops in paragraphs 7-8 it said:
7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services would be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.
8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.
9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration (GS Misc 1076) and to build the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.’
As you will know the five guiding principles referred to above are:
(Extract from GS 1924 – Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate)
I must stress, as in 7 above, that by Royal Mandate the decision as to who lays on hands at the Consecration of a bishop in the Province is for the Archbishop alone to determine. It is the Archbishop who must, in discussion with the candidate, decide how best to proceed in each case. All those bishops present and gathered round the candidate, laying on hands or not, will be participating in the consecration, through their presence and their prayers. It is my prayer that what has been arranged will be a genuine expression both of the five principles, and of the gracious generosity upon which they depend.
When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop on the basis of terms stated in para. 5 (above), to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.
Thank you for your concern, and for your prayers for all involved in preparing both for the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Burnley. May God the Holy Trinity renew his Church in the power of the Holy Spirit, uniting us in Jesus Christ and filling us with the Father’s love.
With every blessing.
The Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission has published a contribution to reflection on leadership in the life of the church. Arising out of a request from the General Synod in 2009, it addresses three major questions:
Based on work undertaken by the Commission over a five-year period, the report complements the series of documents recently published to support the Archbishops’ programme for reform and renewal of the Church of England.
In his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can “inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them.”
Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: “What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church’s understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ.”
The report is available at:
One of the papers sent to General Synod members last week was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report for 2014 (GS Misc 1095). It is for information only, so will not be debated next month.
Two sections of the report might be of particular interest to readers.
The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales
7. 2014 saw the historic creation of the new Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). The appointed day for the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of the new diocese was Easter Day (20 April). The new diocese was formally inaugurated in a special service in York Minster on the Feast of Pentecost (8 June) at which Bishop Nick Baines’ Election as the Bishop of Leeds was confirmed. The Archbishop of York presided and preached and a special congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out.
8. Most of the work of implementing the provisions of the Commission’s Reorganisation Scheme fell on those in the diocese, and the Commission wishes to pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. This work is, however, on-going and much inevitably remains to be done. The Commission itself had specific responsibilities concerning the designation of interim diocesan structures (such as the DBF of the new diocese) and determining compensation for some office holders who would lose their posts under the terms of the Scheme, and appointed sub-committees to handle these tasks.
9. The Commission was very conscious that its Scheme was the first of its kind and, with this in mind, it commissioned one of its number, Professor Hilary Russell, to conduct an evaluation of the process. She conducted about 50 interviews with a range of interested parties in the course of the summer and her Report was published in December – see here.
10. While it needed to be recognised that the Scheme itself was a considerable achievement - being at the maximal end of anything envisaged under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 – the Report made a number of key recommendations for the future, including the following:
- The need for clearer articulation of the case for change; and better communication particularly to diocesan staff directly affected by the Scheme;
- The appointment of an adequately resourced facilitator early in the process, supported by a programme management board with representation from the Archbishop’s office, the dioceses, Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council;
- Better HR and pastoral support for individual post holders directly affected by the Scheme.
Professor Russell’s report is well worth reading in full. It should not be allowed to gather dust in Church House.
22. The Dioceses Commission is responsible for keeping both the provincial and the diocesan structure of the Church of England under review. Following the inauguration of the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales this year, the imbalance of the Provinces is now even more apparent with 12 dioceses in the Province of York and 30 in the Province of Canterbury.
23. The Commission has been encouraged by both Archbishops to review the boundary between the two provinces so as to create a more balanced archiepiscopal workload. The Commission intends to canvas the views of the House of Bishops at a future meeting.
Gavin Drake has these comments and suggestions on where the boundaries should be: Church of England considers moving the north-south divide.
This bill completed all its Commons stages yesterday. First Reading was on 18 December 2014. Yesterday the Commons dealt with an allocation of time motion, the second reading, the committee stage (in a committee of the whole house) and the third reading. As no amendments were made to the bill there was no report stage.
The bill now goes to the Lords.
There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.
Questions at General Synod are generally allocated about an hour and a half at the end of the first day’s business. Questions must be submitted in advance, and on arrival at Synod members are given a booklet of all the questions. Each questioner also receives the answer to his/her question. Most questions are for oral answer. In the chamber these questions are not read out, but the person answering reads a pre-prepared answer, and members then have the opportunity to ask one or two supplementaries. As a general rule there is not enough time to answer all the questions.
A few copies of all the prepared answers are available to members after the questions session, and they are all published in due course in the official report of proceedings.
For next month’s meeting, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format, described in this extract from their report (GS 1974).
21. Based on feedback received from members, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format for Questions at this Group of Sessions. During the trial period Synod members will receive copies of all the answers to questions, in a booklet which will be emailed to them two working days prior to the start of the group of sessions. Paper copies of the booklet will be available at the Information Desk for collection on arrival by those Synod members who do not have access to email.
22. The oral delivery of pre-prepared official answers will be dispensed with. Instead of this, the person answering the question will begin simply by referring to the written answer published in the booklet. The intention is to focus the main business of Questions on the asking and answering of supplementary questions. Priority will be given to the original questioner in the usual way. It is hoped that this new format will allow greater spontaneity and enable Questions to flow more smoothly.
23. The Business Committee would welcome feedback on the trial format for Questions so that they can consider whether to continue with it in the future and promote Standing Order changes to facilitate it. All comments should be sent to the Chair, via the Clerk whose address is available at the end of this Report.
In general only two supplementaries per question are allowed. Since the usual amount of time has been allowed for questions next month it is likely that this new procedure will allow more questions to be dealt with during the question session. Perhaps for some questions the chair will feel able to use his/her discretion and allow more supplementaries.
A list of who may be asked questions is below the fold.
Questions may be asked of:
(i) the Chairman of each of the three Houses of the Synod;
(ii) the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council;
(iii) the Secretary General;
(iv) the Clerk to the Synod;
(v) the Chairman of any body answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council as determined in accordance with the provisions of SO 119(a);
(vi) subject to (viii) below, the Chairman of any Church of England body on which the Synod is represented;
(vii) in matters concerning the Church Commissioners, one of the three Church Estates Commissioners;
(viii) in matters concerning the Royal School of Church Music, the representative of the Synod on its Governing Council;
(ix) the Chairman of any Commission of the Synod established under SO 121.
I wrote an article last week for The Tablet’s website, about the Reform and Renewal programme, which was published under the title Can the Church of England save itself?
The unpublished FAOC report mentioned in that article can still be found here.
The “Green report” was reissued at the end of last week as an attachment to GS 1982 which is a covering note by the Bishop of Ely. See Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders.
Senior Ordained Leadership - a new approach to development of those with
potential for posts with wider responsibility and to the leadership development of
bishops and deans
1. The report “Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for
Bishops and Deans” was commissioned by the Archbishops in January 2014. Though
theologically rooted, it was presented, as requested, as a business case to the Spending Plans Task Group who agreed to commit funding for the project through to the end of 2016. This decision was reported to the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners in September 2014. The proposals were also discussed with the College of Bishops, the Deans Conference and a meeting of Directors of Ministry in autumn 2014. For ease of reference it is set out at attachment 1.
2. This paper is prepared to support the presentation at General Synod on the 10th February 2015 and the subsequent hearing the following day. The Development and Appointments Group (a sub-committee of the House of Bishops) wishes to take the opportunity the Synod discussions will give to i) set the proposals in their wider context ii) connect the theological underpinning of this work with the organisational language of the proposals iii) create space to explore the various issues and concerns that have arisen and iv) provide an update on the detailed design…
The remainder of GS 1982 is well worth a read.
Other articles that appeared before this:
Janet Henderson Leadership Means Partnership
It’s been an interesting time to reflect on leadership. While I’m currently in the middle of an MA in Hospice Leadership, the Church of England has produced The Green Report (nothing to do with ecology!) about senior leadership in the church. Given the coherence and creativity of approach toward leadership training I experience among my hospice peers why, I ask myself, has the Green Report met with such an outcry and so much criticism?
Andrew Lightbown What is leadership? A short post Green reflection.
Following today’s publication of the agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod these articles have appeared.
John Bingham The Telegraph Vicars face end to job ‘for life’ culture as Church of England fights extinction
Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod to tackle raft of reports in small groups
Church Times Group wants to cut C of E’s red legislative tape
Gavin Drake Church Times Church of England proposes halving of Synod days
[This refers to GS Misc 1094 Optimising the Roles of the NCIs which was issued to Synod members today and states “It requires no decisions by Synod at this stage but is being circulated for information.”]
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Radical shake up of CofE urged to stop ‘terrifying’ decline
General Synod Group of Sessions February 2015
The General Synod of the Church of England will meet at Church House, Westminster, SW1 from 1pm on Tuesday 10 February 2015 until 5 pm on Thursday 12 February 2015.
The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The main focus of the Synod’s work will be engagement with the wide-ranging programme of reform and renewal of the Church emerging from the various Task Group Reports and the materials on Discipleship. These discussions will take up most of Wednesday 11 February and will involve group work and meetings in larger groups as well as plenary sessions on a series of motions relating to the Tak Groups.
Tuesday 10th February will feature an address by Archbishop Bashar M Warda, CSSR, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil (Eastern rite Catholic) in northern Iraq (Kurdistan). Archbishop Warda will speak further on the issues raised at the panel debate in November on violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address later that afternoon. This will be followed by a Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives to the House of Bishops, including the Rt Revd Libby Lane, the new Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.
The Synod’s engagement with the programme for Reform and Renewal and the Task Group reports will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday 10th February with a presentation by the Chairs of the Task Groups on the reports that will be discussed on Wednesday.
On the morning of Wednesday 11 February, Synod members will start with worship in small groups before moving into group work on the Discipleship report to prepare for the discussion of the Task Group reports. Later the same morning, Synod members will move into larger groups which will be meeting in parallel to discuss the programme emerging from the Task Groups. These will take the form of four ‘ACT’ groups (Accountability, Consultation and Transparency) which will cover Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Resourcing the Future and Inter-Generational Equity and Simplification.
The Synod will move to a sequence of debates on the Discipleship paper and each of the Task Group reports on the afternoon of Wednesday 11 February. The sequence will begin with a debate on a motion on Discipleship moved by the Bishop of Sheffield. The Synod will then move into a debate on a motion on ‘Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education’ introduced by Canon John Spence. The Bishop of Willesden will introduce a debate on the proposals in the Simplification Group’s report. Finally, the First Church Estates commissioner will introduce a motion on Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity. This will conclude the sequence of debates on the Task Groups.
The final day of Synod, Thursday 12 February, will return to more usual business. In the morning there will be a debate on the Revision Stage of the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure. Synod will also be debating a Private Members’ Motion from the Revd Dr Michael Parsons on Canon B38 which calls for the introduction of legislation to amend the Canon to allow those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. Synod will be debating the Revision Committee stage of the draft Alternative Baptism Texts which are being introduced by the Liturgical Commission as an optional alternative to current baptism services in use in the Church at present.
Finally, Synod will be debating a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the subject of ‘Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices’.
There are two items of contingency business at this Group of Sessions. The first is a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield on ‘The Nature and Structure of the Church of England – National Debate’. The second item is a debate on a report fro the World Council of Churches entitled ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’. This will be introduced by the Chair of the Council of Christian Unity.
Synod will conclude at 5pm on Thursday 12th February.
Updated 23 January to add second circulation papers
Papers in the first and second circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-12 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.
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. [now done]
GS 1902D - Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]
GS 1973 - Agenda
GS 1974 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1975 - General Synod Elections 2015: seat allocations [Tuesday]
GS 1976 - A programme for reform and renewal. A note from the Archbishops [Tuesday]
GS 1977 - Discipleship [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1978 - Resourcing the Future Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1979 - Resourcing Ministerial Education Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1980 - Simplification Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1981 - Church Commissioners’ and Inter-Generational Equity [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1982 - Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders [Tuesday]
GS 1983 - Petition to change the names of the Suffragan Sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract [Thursday]
GS 1984 - 50th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Thursday]
GS 1985 - Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices: report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council [Thursday]
GS 1986 - The Church: Towards a Common Vision: Report from the World Council of Churches [contingency business]
GS Misc 1092 - Released for Mission: Growing the Rural Church
GS Misc 1093 - Update on Electronic Voting
GS Misc 1094 - Optimising the role of the NCIs
GS Misc 1095 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1096 - Clergy Stipend Report
GS Misc 1097 - Archbishop’s Council - Review of Consitutions
GS Misc 1098 - The Church of England’s National Work on Education
GS Misc 1099 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council Activities
GS Misc 1100 - Report on Immersion Experience in India [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1101 - The Church of England’s National Ecumenical Relations
GS Misc 1102 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
Notice Paper 1 [contains proposed amendments to standing orders]
On Rock or Sand?: Firm Foundations for Britain’s Future, edited by the Archbishop of York, is published today (according to Church House Bookshop and Amazon) or next week (according to the Archbishop).
The Archbishop’s announcement states:
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu’s book ‘On Rock or Sand?’ is to be published next week with contributions from experts in economic, political, social and religious disciplines, including Lord Adonis, Sir Philip Mawer, Oliver O Donovan, Andrew Sentance and Archbishop Justin Welby…
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “The book addresses crucial questions about the moral principles that undergird the way Britain is governed. It is about building firm foundations for Britain’s future and setting out the essential values we need to build a just, sustainable and compassionate society in which we can all participate and flourish. We need to rediscover the true meaning of the word economy – it means a household, a community whose members share responsibility for each other. The giant that must be slayed is income inequality - where some few have far too much and the many have too little.”
and includes a video introduction to the book by the Archbishop.
Press reports and comments
Ian Johnston The Independent Anglican archbishops accuse Coalition of abandoning poor amid culture of selfishness
Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph David Cameron pledges to do more to help poor after Church of England criticism
Isabel Hardman The Spectator Archbishop John Sentamu on why politicians are like men arguing at a urinal
Mark Tran The Guardian UK economy is a ‘tale of two cities’ say archbishops
Andrew Brown The Guardian Archbishops try to inject Christianity into welfare state with inequality attack
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Archbishop of York: “English Christians ain’t persecuted”
Pat Ashworth Church Times C of E’s pre-Election publication warns of lose-lose situations for many towns and cities
Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph David Cameron facing row with Church as he ‘profoundly disagrees’ with Archbishops’ attack
The Telegraph editorial Selective wrath
Helen Warrell, Jim Pickard and Clear Barrett Financial Times English archbishops attack government over rising inequality
Updated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
The Church of England Press Office today announced a series of papers, to be published each day this week, about the various Task Group reports. The first starts:
The first batch of papers for the February 2015 meeting of the General Synod will be available to download from the Church of England website on Friday 16th January.
Due to the range and volume of material being issued in relation to the various Task Group reports there will be a daily release of key documents this week ahead of the general distribution of papers.
The first paper below is from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York giving an overview of the programme for reform and renewal represented by the work of the task groups and the materials on Discipleship.
This first paper is “In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal.
Paper 4 (Thursday) is Resourcing Ministerial Education in the Church of England.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.
Paper 6 (Friday) is Church Commissioners and the work of the Task Groups.
There is a blog and a video interview with Andreas Whittam Smith.
There is an online forum to discuss the above two papers.
I will add later papers to this page as they are published. All papers have now been published.
In addition I will publish my usual list of synod papers when they are published on Friday.
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline ‘urgently’ reversed – Welby and Sentamu
Madeleine Davies Church Times Archbishops unveil ‘urgent’ reform programme for CofE
Gavin Drake Church Times Discipleship is important part of C of E reform programme
Church Times Task group aims to slim down church legislation
Gavin Drake Church Times_ Report proposes big drive to attract new priests
Updated three times on Tuesday and again on Friday
… This year I’m awarding a special prize to an organisation that ought to have risen above jargon, but has been dragged down into it. Winner of the inaugural Fallen Angel award goes to the Church of England, which in a paper on training bishops talked of “a radical step change in our development of leaders who can shape and articulate a compelling vision and who are skilled and robust enough to create spaces of safe uncertainty in which the Kingdom grows”. Our Lord, looking down on a sentence in which His Kingdom was obliterated by a dozen dreary management clichés, must have found his genius for forgiveness sorely tested…
Another article about the Green report, this time by Anderson Jeremiah, has appeared at The Conversation: With regret, the Church of England is turning into The Apprentice.
If you never heard of this website before, it’s explained a bit here.
And now, Andrew Lightbown returns to the attack, with this: The Green Report: Fallen Angels and Slippery Slopes.
David Keen has written In Praise of the Green Report.
Savi Hensman has written a research paper, entitled Better understanding of international church conflicts over sexuality. It is published by Ekklesia.
Savi has also written a blog post on the topic, see How do we negotiate the global church sexuality conflict?
In various denominations, debates on sexual ethics and treatment of minorities have sparked heated international controversy. This is sometimes seen as a conflict between a ‘liberal’ west and ‘conservative’ south. But the reality is more complicated.
Both acceptance of, and hostility towards, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can be found across continents and cultures. And, while those most opposed to celebrating, or even allowing, same-sex partnerships sometimes claim to be protecting their people from the influence of the west, their actions serve to reinforce global power imbalances and western domination…
The outline timetable for the February 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below.
GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2015 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Tuesday 10 February
1.00 pm – 7.15 pm
1.00 pm Worship
Short address by Ecumenical Guest
Report by the Business Committee
Report by the Business Committee on the Allocation of Seats in the 2015 General Elections
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives of House of Bishops
4.15 pm Questions
5.40 pm Presentation on the Task Groups and Discipleship Report
7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship
Wednesday 11 February
(9.15 am – 11.15 am Worship followed by Group Work on Discipleship)
(11.20 am – 1.00 pm Discussion in Four Larger Groups on Task Groups)
2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
2.30 pm Discipleship:
Debate on a Motion from the Ministry Council
Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education
Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council
Debate on a Motion
Debate on Inter-generational Equity
Debate on a Motion from the Church Commissioners
7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship
Thursday 12 February
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
9.15 am Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall
10.30 Legislative Business
Standing Orders Debate
Private Member’s Motion - Canon B38
2.30 pm – 5.00 pm
2.30 pm Liturgical Business
Alternative Baptism Texts – Revision Stage
Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices
Take Note Debate from the Mission and Public Affairs Council
4.45 p.m Farewells
Diocesan Synod Motion - Nature And Structure Of The Church Of England: National Debate
Debate on a motion on a Report from the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’
Updated again Sunday evening
Today’s Church Times has a large number of letters commenting on the Green report, and you can read them all on this page: Responses to the Green report on senior appointments in the C of E.
Some further blog articles:
Lay Anglicana Training For Leadership In The Church Of England
In addition to the letters, there is a news article: C of E leaders respond to ‘turbulence’ over Green report.
Stephen Cherry has written The Green Report and the Hymnbook Test.
Updated again Saturday
The following ministerial statement has been issued by a government minister, Mr Sam Gyimah:
Publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Today the Government is introducing the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes.
The Bill follows the legislation permitting women to be ordained bishops. That was completed by the General Synod of the Church of England on 17 November. With the way clear for the first women to be appointed, it is right that those women should be amongst the Bishops who occupy seats in the House of Lords (known as Lords Spiritual). This Bill is intended to allow that to happen sooner than it would under the existing rules.
Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.
The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years, so that if a female bishop is available when a Lords Spiritual seat becomes vacant, they will automatically be appointed to the House of Lords. If no female bishop is available, the vacancy would be filled by the next most senior male bishop, as currently happens…
Update The following press release has been issued from Church House, Westminster:
Church of England welcomes publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
The Church of England has welcomed a Bill published today by the Government aimed at speeding up the introduction of the first women diocesan bishops into the House of Lords.
Bishop Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and convenor of the bishops in the House of Lords, welcoming the Bill, said the presence of women diocesan bishops would “enrich and strengthen” the voice of the bishops in the House of Lords.
He said: “We know that women bishops will enrich and strengthen the leadership of the Church of England and we are very confident that they will also enrich and strengthen our voice in the House of Lords.
“We have reason to suppose that this is supported from all sides of both Houses and we are grateful to the business managers for making time to get this minor amendment to the law in place as soon as possible.”
The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: “There was very widespread support across Parliament for the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England and I think there will be a widespread welcome to legislation that will enable women who are diocesan bishops to become Lords Spiritual at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Under current rules, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester are entitled to sit in the House of Lords from the start of their appointments.
The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill makes provision for vacancies among the remaining 21 places, which are normally filled according to length of service, to be filled as they arise by eligible female diocesan bishops. The provision would remain in place for 10 years, equivalent to two fixed term Parliaments.
The proposed legislation would not prevent male bishops from entering the House of Lords during this period as vacancies would be filled, as is currently the case, by the longest serving male diocesan bishop if there is no eligible female diocesan bishop in line at that time.
After the end of the 10-year period, the provision made by the Bill would come to an end and the current arrangements under the Bishoprics Act 1878 for determining which bishops are to fill vacancies in the House of Lords would be restored.
There is a detailed discussion of this legislation at Law & Religion UK Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill – analysis.
More news reports in addition to those I linked to yesterday
Isabel Hardman The Spectator Meet Libby Lane – the first interview with the first woman bishop
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Rev Libby Lane will be first woman bishop for Church of England
Emily Dugan The Independent Manchester vicar Rev Libby Lane will be Church of England’s first woman bishop
Edward Malnick The Telegraph First woman bishop: profile of parish priest Libby Lane
Caroline Crampton New Statesman Meet Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first woman bishop
Megan Gibson Time Meet the Church of England’s First Ever Female Bishop
A welcome from the Archbishop of Canterbury
And a few comments from campaigning organisations
Madeleine Davies Church Times C of E names its first woman bishop
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England’s first female bishop named as Libby Lane
Haroon Siddique The Guardian Libby Lane: profile of the Church of England’s first female bishop
John Bingham The Telegraph First woman bishop: parish priest Libby Lane is surprise choice
and First woman bishop Libby Lane: a century of campaigning
and First woman bishop is perfect Christmas gift from a battered Church
Heather Saul The Independent First female bishop announced as Rev Libby Lane by Church of England
Paul Harrison Manchester Evening News History is made as Church of England appoints first woman bishop to Stockport
From the Church of England website
The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport
17 December 2014
Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley.
As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minister on Monday 26 January 2015.
Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter’s Hale and St. Elizabeth’s Ashley.
She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West
Speaking at Stockport town hall where she was announced as the new Bihsop of Stockport Libby Lane said: “I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.
“The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead.”
Responding to news of the announcement the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, said: “It is with great joy that on January 26, 2015 - the feast of Timothy and Titus, companions of Paul - I will be in York Minster, presiding over the consecration of the Revd Libby Lane as Bishop Suffragan of Stockport. Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands. I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.
“When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to ‘pour some balm on (my) wounded heart’. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. ‘Be comforted’, he said, ‘it will come.’
“When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: ‘Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!’
“Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “”I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.
“She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving”.
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “Libby has had a varied and distinguished ministry, and is currently a first-rate parish priest. She has already demonstrated her ability to contribute nationally through her representative role in the House of Bishops, on behalf of the north-west England dioceses.
“As the first woman bishop in the Church of England she will face many challenges as well as enjoying many opportunities to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that she has the gifts and determination to be an outstanding bishop.
“I am delighted at her designation as Bishop of Stockport after a lengthy process of discernment across the Church of England and beyond.”
The nomination of Libby as the new Bishop of Stockport was approved by the Queen and announced today (Wednesday 17 December 2014). Libby succeeds the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Libby Lane has been the Vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since April 2007, and from January 2010 has also been Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese. After school in Manchester and University at Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.
Prior to moving to Hale, Libby was Team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team, and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the church. She continues to be a Bishop’s Selection Advisor.
Libby has served in the Diocese of York, as Chaplain in hospital and further education, and as Family Life Officer for the Committee for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Chester.
She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.
Her husband, George, is also a priest; they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. George is Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. They have two grown up children in higher education.
Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.
An audio interview with The Revd Libby Lane on today’s announcement is available as part of a Church of England podcast here.
A photostream from today’s announcement including photos of The Revd Libby lane are available here.
Announcement on the Chester diocesan website England’s first woman bishop to be Libby Lane
Announcement from Number 10 Suffragan See of Stockport: Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane nomination approved
The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:
Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.
Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).
So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?
The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.
Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:
- believe and teach the catholic faith
- are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
- have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
- will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
- will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).
When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.
Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.
Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.
Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.
So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?
There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.
Priests of The Society
One of the most important purposes of The Society is to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which our people can have confidence - in other words, to offer ‘sacramental assurance’. Registering priests as Priests of The Society is the mechanism for doing this.
Priests are not being registered as ‘members of The Society’ (The Society is not a membership organization), but as priests whose ministry can be commended because they are male priests ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession. Registration is about sacramental assurance - not membership.
The ministry of priests who are not entitled to minister in the Church of England (because they hold no office and have no licence or permission to officiate) cannot be commended to or received by our parishes, so they cannot be registered as Priests of The Society. If a Priest of The Society ceases to be entitled to minister in the Church of England, the Declaration that he has signed obliges him to inform the relevant member of the Council of Bishops of The Society immediately.
In order to become a Priest of The Society, a priest makes a Declaration and sends it to the relevant member of the Council of Bishops. In response, the bishop sends him a Welcome Letter. In the letter, the bishop tells the priest to retain the letter and show it to anyone who wants confirmation of his status as a Priest of The Society. (This might be an incumbent or priest in charge who needs priestly assistance, a churchwarden during a vacancy, or someone involved in making a parochial appointment.)
The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. The Society is not a priestly society, and it does not fulfil the functions of societies like the Society of the Holy Cross or the Company of Mission Priests. Registration as a Priest of The Society is not about membership, fellowship, holiness or mission. It is simply a way of identifying priests who can minister in parishes that are affiliated to The Society without the need for research about the nature of the priest’s Orders.
Updated again Sunday evening
The Church of England has now published the “Green report” on its own website, here.
together with A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”. He is described at the end of that note as:
Chair of the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops with oversight of the development for senior clerical posts as well as the appointments processes to them.
Several recruitment advertisements have appeared:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued The Green Report: A Response.
The Dean of Liverpool has written Lord Green’s Report: A reflection [f]rom a member of the Group.
Andrew Lightbown has responded to the above in this article: An open letter to advocates of the Green Report.
Al Barrett has written On ‘talent pools’ and floods…
And Oliver Coss has something to say about this in his post on another topic, see The Suffragan See of Stockport.
Archdruid Eileen offers us The Church of England / Business Translator.
The Financial Times has a news report: Church of England management courses overlook God, say critics registration required
Mark Clavier has written It shall not be among you.
Several commentators have written about these proposals for business school style training programmes for selected clergy. Here are some links, and I will add more as I discover them (or as readers report them to me).
Andrew Lightbown An open letter to Lord Green et al
Michael Sadgrove The Next Generation of Church Leaders: thoughts on the Green Report
“Archbishop Cranmer” Church of England to spend £2m on “new approach” to leadership
“Archdruid Eileen” Infecting the Church with Mangerialism
The Church Times today carries several articles about the recommendations made in a report which is titled Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach.
Paul Handley has written a news report: Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E Report of the Lord Green Steering Group.
Martyn Percy has written a highly critical review of the report: Are these the leaders that we really want? Here are two extracts:
…In terms of process, there is a problem about the composition of the group who produced the report. Not one ordained woman was on the review group - and at a time when the Church is about to welcome women bishops. This is breathtaking. Nor was there a recognised theologian, or an academic specialising in continuing professional or vocational education. And, despite the fact that the report raises secular “MBA-style” programmes to a level of apotheosis, no recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party.
In the actual text of the Green report, there are a couple of serious issues to wrestle with. First, it has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom. Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to executive management, with a little theological garnish. A total absence of ecclesiology flows from this. The report has little depth or immersion in educational literature.
A more notable absence is any self-awareness in the report: unaware of critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature, it is steeped in its own uncritical use of executive management-speak…
…Ultimately, the report is coy about the problem it is actually trying to solve: ecclesiastical preferment. No definition of leadership is ever advanced in the text. The report shows no evidence of having solicited the views of the led. Or of former church leaders. The executive managers already know what they are looking for in preferment - folk like themselves.
There is no critique offered of the expectations placed on church leaders. The text focuses on training people for management tasks that the review group take as givens. No different models of leadership are discussed, such as servanthood, collaborative ministry, or pastoral care.
Although executive managers are patently not the leaders of the Church, they none the less aspire to be in charge. If this report is put into practice, they will be. A few administrative offices either side of the Thames, based in Church House, Westminster, or at the Wash House at Lambeth Palace - secretariats that once served the Church - will become sovereign.
THIS work on leadership in the Church really needs to begin in a different place with different people, starting with deep spiritual, intellectual, and theological interlocutors. They would produce something less presumptuous, with a clearer methodology and a cogent argument rather than a set of assertions…
And there is a Church Times leader column: A pooling of talents.
…there are other models of management and leadership: ones that require a humility that is unlikely to be engendered by an invitation to join an elite leadership pool. Had Lord Green’s steering group looked at the Church’s systems rather than its individuals, they might have concluded that a pool of talent exists already in the Church, and that it is not necessary to train individual leaders to hold every skill. When diocesan bishops, say, function as part of a diocesan team, they will draw on any expertise that they lack: finance, human resources, and so on. In such a system, the concept of leadership runs counter to the alpha-male model depicted in the Green report. Here the bishop is an enabler, challenger, or encourager. It is probably notable that, while the word “leader” occurs 171 times in the report, the word “pastor” or “pastoral” does not appear once.
There is clear value in a checklist for ministerial training. It is wise stewardship to ensure that the right skills are nurtured, and that people are encouraged to apply for the right posts. The present ad hoc system, which relies too heavily on being noticed or finding favour, is inadequate. It is wise, too, to borrow best practice from secular institutions; but it needs to be applicable to an institution that, uniquely, follows a founder whose evidence-based record of leadership involved abandonment and death.
The report itself is already in quite wide circulation, although it is not yet on the CofE website, and there seems to be no page there dealing with the Development and Appointments Group, which appears to be a subcommittee of the House of Bishops.
Thinking Anglicans was shown it several weeks ago. Readers may judge the full report for themselves here.
Curiously, another document has also just appeared, which though closely related in subject matter is of a quite different character. It is from the CofE Faith and Order Commission, and entitled Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection. Sadly very little of its thinking seems to have permeated the Green report. It is available here.
The fifth and final debate of the current Oxford series took place last Thursday. Audio recordings of the entire event are now available on this page.
Those who have been attending regularly seemed to agree that this debate was the best of the series. Do listen to it all if you can.
Links to the opening statements:
Link to the ensuing discussion.
Lorraine Cavanagh has written about the event here: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?
Update Video highlights are also now available here.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty released its report Feeding Britain today. The Group was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP.
There was much media anticipation of the report overnight.
Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler The Guardian Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
and Nick Clegg calls for rethink on benefits sanctions to help tackle food poverty
Andy McSmith The Independent Food banks: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urges politicians to face up to Britain’s hunger
Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Families go hungry as supermarkets send millions of tonnes of food for landfill
ITV News ‘Stop food waste and speed up benefits payments to end UK hunger,’ say MPs and church in foodbank report
Hannah Richardson BBC News ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge
And more since publication
Graham Riches The Guardian Food banks don’t solve food poverty. The UK must not institutionalise them
Rose Troup Buchanan The Independent Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to ‘issues with the welfare system’
Frank Field and John Glen New Statesman Food banks: why can’t people afford to eat in the world’s sixth richest country?
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Britain’s hunger crisis: Bishop of Truro says benefits system doesn’t work
Keith Hebden Ekklesia Feeding Britain: A start, but much more emphasis on justice needed
Yesterday I published details of the forthcoming Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship. There are already many comments on that article.
Tim Wyatt has written this for the Church Times Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop.
Kelvin Holdsworth has posed 10 questions arising from the misogyny of a “headship” bishop.
WATCH have issued this response:
WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop
WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).
Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.
In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.
Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’
Church Society have sent us this:
Church Society statement on the announcement regarding the appointment of a headship evangelical bishop of Maidstone
Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone.
The measure – recently ratified by Synod – allowing women to be appointed to the episcopate, was passed partly on the basis of five guiding principles. These principles enshrine within the legislation a commitment to the flourishing within the Church of those who hold to what we believe is the biblical view of men and women having complementary roles in church leadership, a view held by many throughout the Anglican Communion and by many other churches also.
The imminent appointment of a bishop with this conviction is an important step in realising that commitment and rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We are particularly encouraged by the recognition that the evangelical complementarian perspective should be represented in the College of Bishops after several years without a spokesman.
We wish to stress that this is but a first step: for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done. For example, if soon a complementarian suffragan were to be appointed in the province of York also, that would be a further positive expression of the Church’s intent that complementarians can flourish within the structures and life of the Church. There are many excellent and able conservative evangelical ministers who are willing and able to serve in Diocesan and suffragan roles for the health of the whole church. We pray that they will not be discriminated against in any future appointments process if some may be tempted to say “we will soon have one complementarian evangelical and should not have any others.” The large number of lay people in the Church with complementarian convictions evidences the appropriateness of having several more bishops to pastor, lead, and represent them in the House of Bishops.
Despite this and other remaining concerns, we wish sincerely to thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues for keeping his promise, and for seeking to serve us in accordance with our conscience in this matter. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with him how the arrangements regarding the Bishop of Maidstone could work, and how he can further help complementarian evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England.
Rev Dr Lee Gatiss
Director of Church Society
Revd Paul Darlington
Chairman of Church Society Council
The arrangements to allow the appointment of a Church of England bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship have just been announced in this press release:
Suffragan See of Maidstone
At its meeting on 4 December the Dioceses Commission unanimously agreed with a proposal received from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the vacant see of Maidstone. The see, which had been vacant since 2009, had been identified by the Archbishop as one that should be filled by a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.
This flows 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.
It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake 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 that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.
While available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral, the Commission understood that — given his potentially wide geographical remit — the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.
The necessary steps to make the appointment will now begin.
Notes for 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].
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 at GS Misc 1076.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth: Nicholas McKinnel
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 December 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel to the Suffragan See of Plymouth.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter, to the Suffragan See of Plymouth, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to the Right Reverend John Frank Ford, MA, on his resignation on 18 November 2013.
Notes for editors
The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel (aged 60), was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy at Fulham Saint Mary North End in London Diocese from 1980 to 1983.
From 1983 to 1987 he was Chaplain at Liverpool University. From 1987 to 1988 he was Priest-in-Charge at Hatherleigh in Exeter Diocese. From 1988 to 1994 he was Rector at Hatherleigh, Meeth, Exbourne and Jacobstowe. From 1994 to 1995 he was Priest-in-Charge at Plymouth Saint Andrew with Saint Paul and Saint George. From 1995 to 2012 he was Team Rector of Plymouth Saint Andrew and St Paul, Stonehouse in the Diocese of Exeter, and from 2002 to 2012 he was Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. Since 2012 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Crediton.
Prebendary Nicholas McKinnel is married and has 4 children. His interests include sport, the arts and the countryside.
From the Exeter diocesan website: New Bishop of Plymouth to be Rt Revd Nick McKinnell
Debate 3 was reported here.
The debate took place on 20 November and the full audio recordings are now available here.
Several who were there have blogged about it:
The arrangements under which Church of England parishes can now, on grounds of theological conviction, seek the priestly or episcopal ministry of men are contained in the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which was made by the House of Bishops in May 2014. There is also a grievance procedure if PCCs are not satisfied with the arrangements offered. This procedure could only be officially put in place after the new Canon allowing women to become bishops was promulged at General Synod on Monday 17 November, and the House of Bishops did this that evening.
The Declaration, together with a guidance note, and the Grievance Procedure are available online.
Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076)
Guidance Note (GS Misc 1077)
Grievance Procedure: Regulations made by the House of Bishops under Canon C 29 (GS Misc 1087)
It should be noted that drafts of the Declaration and Grievance Procedure (GS 1932) were presented to, and “welcomed” by General Synod in February 2014, so none of this was new this month.
it was also announced before the November meeting of Synod that Sir Philip Mawer would be the first Independent Reviewer for the grievance procedure (GS Misc 1090).
This is all available on the Church of England website, along with a summary of how to bring a grievance: Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.
Cathedrals offer place of peace and prayer in busy lives, reveal new stats
24 November 2014
The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.
Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance - life’s run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable.”
Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.
The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, commented: “We do have the opportunity of allowing people to come in from the edges. If I take a eucharist at 12.30 in the middle of the week in the nave of York Minster there’ll be a lot of people who just slide in from the side. It’s not so much about anonymity, there’s the feeling there’s a journey you can travel which doesn’t require huge steps - it just requires one little step.”
Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, said: “Patterns of church attendance are different now. Cathedrals are uniquely placed to be providing greater opportunities for worship and that includes during the week.”
The Stats also show that attendance at Christmas cathedral services had increased rising from 117,200 in 2012 to 124,300 in 2013 with many cathedrals putting on new services.
The following questions were put to the Archbishop of Canterbury during Questions at General Synod on Monday evening by Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans).
Has the Commission considered why one name consistently appears in the media as having been under consideration by it and whether, when such reports appear, the Commission might in the interests of fairness release the names of all those who were in fact on the shortlist for the appointment concerned?
The Archbishop, speaking as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission, replied:
Those who take part in Crown Nominations Commissions or who are involved in the process for selecting suffragan bishops are bound by requirements of confidentiality, something that we repeat at each CNC at the beginning of the process. There are strong arguments both for transparency and for confidentiality. It is a question which is discussed from time to time, and the Archbishop of York and I keep it under review, as he has already said.
It is, however, precisely because selection processes are meant to be confidential - in the interests of all concerned - that it is so damaging when reports appear in the press purporting to give inside information and naming an individual. The harm is done whether these are true, false or wholly speculative. It is unkind, hurtful and unjust to the person concerned and simply should not happen.
Given the damaging reports that you refer to, what steps will be taken to revise the CNC process, both to call to account members who breach the declaration of confidentiality they make, and to prevent undue influence in the process, even say by the Archbishop of Canterbury, even say in the interests of the Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop replied:
We will continue to keep the way that we operate under close review, and to ensure that it is carried out in line with the Equality Act, wherever that applies.
During the debate on the Business Committee report, Mr Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) made a speech in which, while requesting further action from the archbishops in relation to the selection of women for episcopal appointments, he mentioned specifically:
…their formidable powers of process control, leadership, and forceful persuasion to ensure (I am putting it very politely) that the CNC moves boldly with all speed and determination to the appointment of as many as possible of the best of the Church of England’s excellent senior women as diocesan bishops, preferably with seats in the House of Lords…
He later continued:
…And there is a closely related matter, on which I hope Archbishop Justin will also respond. For it is not only women who were excluded in a discriminatory and prejudiced way from the House of Bishops. So too were, and still are, those gay men who do not hide their sexuality in the closet. Those who are honest and frank enough to live openly in a civil partnership while behaving in the chaste way required by church law are it seems, from all the evidence de facto excluded from the House of Bishops, even when they are eminently qualified to be a bishop.
To make bishops of women required today’s change in the law of the church. But it is not law, it is simply prejudice which keeps out of the House of Bishops these men who are gay, chaste and honest. Such prejudice and discrimination is wrong, even when it is dressed up as a necessary tribute to certain homophobic elements of the Anglican Communion. Such prejudice and discrimination will increasingly be seen to be wrong by much of the nation which the Church of England seeks to serve, especially the younger people, who have shown for example by their sympathy for Alan Turing the gay wartime codebreaker [to] utterly reject the persecution of homosexual people.
Updated on Sunday to add the two supplementary questions
The Questions on Monday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:
The Revd Rosalind Rutherford (Winchester) asked the Secretary General:
Q What steps need to be taken to ensure that all the components of the legislative package for Women in the Episcopate will apply fully in the Isle of Man and in all the Channel Islands; and can you confirm that these steps have been taken so that the legislation can come into force on the same day as that on which it is expected to come into force in England (17th Nov 2014)?
Mr William Fittall replied:
A The legislation that has come into force today in England cannot come into force in the Crown Dependencies until the usual processes involving the civil authorities of those distinct jurisdictions have been completed. In the case of the Isle of Man a draft Measure has been prepared, for consideration by the diocesan synod at the earliest possible opportunity on 13 January, and will then need to be submitted to Tynwald. In the case of the Channel Islands a scheme needs to be drawn up in consultation with the deanery synods of the Islands, communicated to the States General for comment, approved by the General Synod and then confirmed by Order in Council. I understand that process is about to begin but it is a little too soon to predict the timescale.
Rosalind Rutherford asked a supplementary question:
Q I think many members will think it’s regrettable it’s not possible to give a specific date for the Channel Islands, but could you assure Synod that active and practical encouragement will be given to those responsible for the process to ensure that it will take significantly less time than the extra six years it took the 1992 Measure to be applied in the Islands.
Mr Fittall replied:
A Well we have just broken the land speed record in getting the legislation through the Ecclesiastical Committee in about eight days and through the two Houses of Parliament very speedily after the recess. In relation to the civil authorities in the Channel Islands it would be very good if we could similarly create a new record, but I am afraid I cannot guarantee because that is not ultimately in my hands or indeed in the hands of the General Synod.
The Bishop of Dover asked:
Q Would the Secretary General find it helpful to know that letters have gone to the deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey to actually start the process already?
Mr Fittall replied:
A That is very encouraging.
Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office
Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich: Martin Alan Seeley
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 20 November 2014
Part of: Arts and culture
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley, MA, STM, Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge in the Diocese of Ely, for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich in succession to the Right Reverend William Nigel Stock, BA, on his translation as Bishop at Lambeth on 13 November 2013.
Notes for editors
Martin Seeley is 60, and read geography and then theology at Jesus College, Cambridge, before a year at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He was awarded the English Fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and continued his ministerial training there. He served his title at the parish of Bottesford with Ashby, Scunthorpe in Lincoln Diocese from 1978 to 1980. He then returned to New York City where he served as curate at the Church of the Epiphany and Assistant Director of Trinity Institute, Trinity Wall Street, from 1980 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990 he was Executive Director of the Thompson Center, an ecumenical lay and clergy education programme in St Louis, Missouri. He returned to England in 1990 and until 1996 was a Selection Secretary at the Advisory Board of Ministry and Secretary for Continuing Ministerial Education. From 1996 to 2006 he was Vicar of the Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, in the Diocese of London. Since 2006 he has been Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge and also from 2008 Honorary Canon at Ely Cathedral. He has also served as President of the Cambridge Theological Federation for the past 2 years.
He is married to the Reverend Jutta Brueck, Priest in Charge of St James’, Cambridge and they have two children, Anna, 14 and Luke, 11. He is a keen and able cook, and a keen, but less able saxophonist.
The diocesan website has more details: Next Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Press Release from Westminster Faith Debates
In his presidential address to General Synod this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of divisions within the Anglican Communion, and of the prize of being able to develop unity in diversity. Closer to home, he is supporting ‘facilitated conversations’ in the CofE as a way of healing rifts over the issue of gay marriage. What’s the chance of success?
A recent survey of CofE clergy by YouGov, commissioned by the Westminster Faith Debates, reveals a major obstacle in the way of the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well’: a relatively small group of the most evangelical male clergy.
When asked where they fall on spectrum from evangelical to catholic, roughly a third of all clergy say they are at the evangelical end, a third at the catholic end, and a third in the middle. The third at the evangelical end hold some distinctive and pronounced views.
For instance, a full 88% of these evangelicals say that same-sex marriage is wrong, compared with just over a third of the rest of the clergy. Similarly, 31% of evangelical clergy would ban abortion altogether, a figure which falls to 16% among Anglican clergy overall.
These differences are not a block to unity – if those who hold them are happy to tolerate different views within the Church. But here comes the rub.
Evangelical men beg to differ
The survey of 1,500 Anglican clergy asked about the most appropriate approach to unity in the Anglican Communion. While the majority of clergy support the aim of ‘maintaining unity by being more tolerant of diverse views,’ two thirds of the evangelical clergy disagree, contending either that the Church should seek greater uniformity of views or else that it should not be afraid of separating amicably along doctrinal and ethical lines.
What the survey also finds, however, is that it is evangelical men not evangelical women who are opposed to the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well.’ Most evangelical women clergy (61%) agree with the majority of clergy who support greater toleration. But 68% of evangelical male clergy disagree.
The typical view of evangelical male clergy is both to oppose gay marriage and not to wish the Church to embrace diverse views. Overall this combination of views is held by about 25% of clergy, the majority of whom are male evangelicals. These are a major block to the Archbishop’s dream of unity in the CofE—- clergy who don’t think it a goal worth pursuing—-especially because so many of them belong to the same clergy “tribe”.
The good news for Justin Welby is that he doesn’t have to worry about the majority of clergy. They support his goal. The bad news is that his opponents are not likely to change their minds. His success depends on finding a solution – something which eluded his predecessor Rowan Williams.
Professor Linda Woodhead comments:
These findings are both good and bad news for the Archbishop – good in that his battle is won with most of the clergy and almost certainly an overwhelming majority of lay Anglicans. Bad, in that there is a significant group of male clergy who do not share his vision for the CofE and the Anglican Communion.
Future of the Church Debate
This Thursday the next in the current series of national debates on the Future of the Church of England delves into this issue, asking what kind of unity is appropriate for the Church and how Archbishop Justin’s goal of unity in diversity can be achieved.
Speakers at this public debate in Oxford include Canon David Porter, the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson, Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream, the Very Revd June Osborne and Rt Revd Dr Trevor Mwamba.
Updated Wednesday and Thursday
Official summaries of the day’s business
Press reports and comment:
John Bingham The Telegraph Welby warns offering asylum to Christians could ‘drain’ Middle East of 2,000-year-old communities
Fuad Nahdi The Guardian Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully before and must do so again
Press Association (in The Guardian) British Muslims feel paralysed by Iraq and Syria conflicts, activist tells synod
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Muslim address to Synod: ‘Muslims and Christians must learn more about each other’
Archbishop of York General Synod Farewell to the Bishop of Newcastle
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today UK Methodists might accept bishops as CofE covenant (slowly) progresses
Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, announced today that he will retire on 11 July 2015.
From the diocesan website: Bishop Tim announces retirement
Ripon College Cuddesdon announced today that Humphrey Southern, suffragan Bishop of Repton in the Diocese of Derby, has been appointed its principal, with effect from 1 April 2015.
From the college website: Appointment of new Principal
The Questions yesterday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:
Mrs Christina Rees (St Albans) asked the Secretary General:
Q Is there any longer a bar on a man or woman who, having been ordained to the priesthood by a bishop who is a woman in another province of the Anglican Communion or in another Church with which the Church of England is in communion, being given to permission to officiate under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967, so as to make them then to be as a priest in the Church of England, given a Licence or Permission to Officiate?
Mr William Fittall replied:
A The decision taken by the Synod this afternoon means that it is now lawful for women to be consecrated as bishops in England. The rationale for the bar which the Archbishops have operated up to now under the 1967 Measure has therefore disappeared. The gender of the consecrating bishop will be no longer relevant when applications for permission to officiate are considered.
More news and comment on yesterday’s final decision to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England
Giles Fraser The Guardian Hallelujah, the long wait for female bishops is over at last
Telegraph leader Women bishops: a new chapter for the Church of England
Caroline Wyatt BBC Female bishops: Anglicans preparing for first appointment
There was other business at General Synod yesterday:
Official Summary of Monday’s business: General Synod: Monday PM
Press release: Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy
Early press reports:
Tim Wyatt Church Times From today, women can be bishops in the Church of England
Caroline Wyatt BBC Church of England formally approves plans for women bishops
Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England clears way for female bishops
John Bingham and agency The Telegraph Church of England approves historic change in law to allow women bishops
Kashmira Gander The Independent Church of England shatters ‘stained-glass ceiling’ by allowing female bishops
Carey Lodge Christian Today Final approval given to women bishops at General Synod
… and from the Archbishop of Canterbury Women bishops: Archbishop hails “new way of being the church”
From the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.
Archbishop Justin’s presidential address to the General Synod
Monday 17th November 2014
In his presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.
Read the full text of the address below:
During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward…
The full text is here.
Madeleine Davies reports on the address for the Church Times Anglican Communion ‘flourishing’, and attached to Canterbury, Welby reports
The Archbishop of York signs the Instrument of Enanactment.
Press release from Church House
Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod
17 November 2014
The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.
The formal enactment of the legislation - Amending Canon 33 - followed the vote on final approval by the Synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in Parliament and received Royal Assent.
The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, on the first day of the Synod’s meeting in London.
With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to Synod the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole Synod.
Following the vote Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said:
“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”
The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here
The following dioceses are currently vacant and are waiting to appoint a diocesan bishop:
Southwell & Nottingham
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich were the last diocese to select a Bishop under the former rules.
The following suffragan (assistant) bishop posts are currently Vacant and are awaiting appointment:
Any of the above vacant posts may now be filled by a male or female priest.
After the vote the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that the CNC for Southwell & Nottingham (which has had its first, but not second meeting) had been allowed to consider women.
The General Synod of the Church of England has today, by clear show of hands, passed a motion enacting Amending Canon No 33. The effect of the amendment is to enact that:
A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of Bishop.
The Oxford Faith Debates are continuing every fortnight and there are two more to go. Full details of the programme are here.
Debate 3 titled People – how can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the future? included contributions from four panelists and another four “provocateurs” including one of the editors of this website. Recordings of the entire proceedings are available here. (My bit is close to the end at minute 41 of the discussion.)
Lorraine Cavanagh another of the Provocateurs last week has written this article: The Church of England must remain credible as well as viable also available over here.
Both she and I will be returning for Debate 4 this coming Thursday when the subject is Diversity - what kind of unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, how can diversity become a strength?
New statistics for 2013 show average of one million people attend services each week
10 November 2014
New Church of England statistics for 2013 published today show that an average of one million people attend services each week, down about 1% on the previous year.
The one million figure relates to regular weekly parish and cathedral services and does not include other core services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. With some 2,000 baptisms, 1,000 weddings and 3,000 funerals conducted every week it is estimated that a further half a million people attend a service conducted by a Church of England minister every week. In addition the count (which takes place in October) does not include the many carol and nativity services during Advent and many other regular services responding to community need. The services carried out by the Church of England’s chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools, universities and military bases are also excluded from the attendance totals. Figures for Christmas attendance show a stable trend, with 2.4 million people attending services on Christmas Eve and Day - where figures have hovered around the 2.5 million mark over the past decade.
Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Sheffield, The Rt. Revd. Steven Croft, said:
“These figures show the Church of England continues to serve the nation with a core of 1 million activist members who worship faithfully each week.
“At a time when membership of political parties is at an historic low and in a society which feels increasingly time squeezed, it is conspicuous that the Church of England’s committed weekly base of parish worshippers remains a million strong with the last Census showing many millions more identifying with the Church.
“In addition to the regular worshipping core the Church continues to serve all those who look to us to mark the most important events of their life journey through weddings, baptisms and funerals. Through these services alone we estimate that a further half a million people attend Church every week of the year, many of whom will be only fringe or occasional visitors.”
A new part of the 2013 research reveal that nearly half of the 67,000 new joiners to churches are coming for the first time rather than from another church. This was the first time a split was introduced in the joiners and leavers section to measure those moving to or from other local churches.
There was also new research on attendance at advent services including nativity and carol services - outside of usual Sunday services. Although not every church gave figures, attendance at special services during advent is estimated to be around 5 million.
A change in baptism trends shows that adult baptisms are on the increase over the past decade - from 8,000 per year to 11,000 per year, an increase of 32% over the last 10 years.
The statistics are available at:
Earlier statistics are available here.
It has been announced from 10 Downing Street this morning that the Revd Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley in the diocese of Blackburn:
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Philip John North, MA, Team Rector of the Parish of Old Saint Pancras, in the Diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn, in succession to the Right Reverend John William Goddard, BA, on his resignation on 31 August 2014.
A press release from Forwad in Faith comments:
Forward in Faith is delighted at the news that Fr Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley, in succession to Bishop John Goddard.
Fr North is well known for his pastoral gifts, his zeal for mission and evangelization, and his commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel, especially amongst the poor.
We are proud to welcome a new episcopal member of Forward in Faith, and we pray for Fr North as he prepares for his move, and for the whole people of God in the Diocese of Blackburn.
Update (Friday afternoon)
Blackburn diocese is now also carrying this news: next Bishop of Burnley to be the Reverend Philip North and quoting the bishop-designate:
“Some of you might be aware that I withdrew from an appointment as Bishop of Whitby. The fact that I have been invited and have agreed to serve as a Bishop again is testimony to the very different mood across the Church of England since the understandable disappointment that followed the failure in 2012 of the legislation to enable women to be bishops.
“The Church has stated afresh its commitment to enabling all traditions to flourish within its life and structures, and I hope that my appointment will be seen as evidence of that pledge.”
And the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, is quoted:
“I want to make it clear that I see Philip’s appointment as a clear sign the Anglican Church in Lancashire is living out these five guiding principles.
“I wanted to have an episcopal colleague who is from the traditionalist catholic constituency and Philip fulfils that role well. He comes to serve the whole Diocese. He will also have particular care for those people who cannot accept the ministry of women as Bishops and Priests in the Church — and he will have my wholehearted support in carrying out this important work.”
David Pocklington has written for Law & Religion UK about the Future composition of the Lords Spiritual.
The announcement to both Houses of the Royal Assent to the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure completed the parliamentary stages of the legislation and brought to the fore the issue of “fast tracking” women in the episcopate to the Lords Spiritual…
The issues that remain, therefore, are: how this is to be accomplished; and what form this fast-tracking/positive discrimination will take…
He goes on to explain why this will require an Act of Parliament rather than a Church Measure. He then looks at what might replace the present “Buggins’ turn” method of appointing the most senior diocesan bishops and allow women more quickly to join the Lords Spiritual.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK wrote this last month: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Today he published this update: Seal of confessional: its future in the CofE. Together these clearly describe the current position.
Do read both articles, but I draw attention to part of what the Archbishop of York said in his statement on the Waddington Enquiry:
… one of those who reported abuse to the Inquiry has since asked me specifically to raise the question of The Confessional. His view is that disclosures made in the context of a formal Confession which give rise to safeguarding concerns should not enjoy absolute confidentiality.
I have every sympathy with this view, and therefore welcome the fact that the Archbishops’ Council has decided to commission theological and legal work with a view to exploring whether the current position in relation to admissions of abuse in the context of a formal Confession should be changed. That work and any recommendations arising from it will need to be discussed with the House of Bishops before any proposals for change are brought before the General Synod.
This matter will undoubtedly be raised during a take-note debate on draft revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (GS 1970) at General Synod next month. There is an accompanying paper specifically on the ministry of absolution (GS Misc 1085) which confirms the Archbishop’s statement that the Archbishops’ Council is to commission a review of the seal of the confessional.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this speech at the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch in the House of Commons yesterday. He also answered questions. Amongst other topics he spoke about child abuse within the Church of England.
Michael White and Rajeev Syal The Guardian Church of England to examine 1950s records in child abuse investigation
Georgia Graham and John Bingham The Telegraph Justin Welby: I broke down in tears at horror of Church child abuse
He also spoke about immigration.
John Bingham and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury condemns politicians who view immigration as a ‘deep menace’
Nigel Morris The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: There is no immigrant ‘menace’
The papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 17 and 18 November are now all online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.
GS 1926D - Amending Canon No.33 [Monday]
GS 1966 - Agenda
GS 1967 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]
GS 1970 - Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (draft edition) [Monday]
GS 1971 - The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Council for Christian Unity [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1085 - Guidelines for the professional conduct of the clergy (The Ministry of Absolution)
GS Misc 1086 - A background note on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1088 - Representative of Pentecostal Churches of the General Synod
GS Misc 1089 - The Porvoo Declaration - New signatories
GS Misc 1090 - Women in the Episcopate - appointment of Independent Reviewer
GS Misc 1091 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s activities
The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.
Final agenda for General Synod published
24 October 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a two day meeting from 13.45 on Monday 17 November until 17.00 on Tuesday 18 November.
The Agenda for the meeting is published today. After the usual introductory material, including the debate on the report by the Business Committee the Synod will be invited to enact Amending Canon No. 33 to allow women to be bishops. This will be followed by a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Various items of legislative business will follow. Some of these will run into the following day, when a further slot for legislative business has been allocated at 12 noon. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure and the Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure will both return to the Synod for their Final Drafting and Final Approval Stages. . Amending Canon No. 35 (relating to Canon B 12) and the Naming of Dioceses Measure will both undergo their Revision Stages. A new draft Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis will be introduced for First Consideration. Finally, the Synod will be asked to approve a Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe’s Constitution.
Following the legislative business, there will be a Take Note debate on the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy. This is a draft document prepared by the Convocations of York and Canterbury which updates the existing Guidelines dating from 2003 to take account of new developments in secular and Church legislation and pastoral practice, as well as liturgical developments. Following comment by General Synod, the draft Guidelines will return to the Convocations for further consideration. After a short period of worship, the day will conclude with Synod Questions.
Tuesday 18th November will start with Holy Communion which will lead into a presentation by a panel of speakers moderated by the Bishop of Coventry on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel will include the Rt. Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, who is one of our regular Ecumenical representatives on Synod and who is in close touch with churches in Iraq and Syria, Dr.Fuad Nahdi Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way and Founding Editor of the pioneering Q-News and the Revd Dr Rachel Carnegie, the Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance. There will be opportunities for Synod members to pose questions to the panel.
Any remaining legislative business will be taken at 12 noon. After lunch on Tuesday 18th November there will be a presentation followed by a debate on the Anglican Methodist Covenant. The Synod will be invited to endorse the recommendations in the Final Report of the Joint Implementation Commission which calls for both churches to take forward further work on the possibility of reconciling their ministries with a view to interchangeability.
There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Bradford (now part of the Diocese of Leeds) regarding the Spare Room Subsidy. The motion reflects concern from the Diocese at the impact of the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the “Bedroom Tax”.
Contingency business takes the form of a Private Member’s Motion by the Revd Canon Dr Michael Parsons (Gloucester) on Canon B38 (‘Of the burial of the dead’). The motion calls for the introduction of legislation so that the law would no longer make any distinction in the form of funeral service to be used when someone has taken their own life.
Synod papers, including the full agenda, can be found here.
From today’s Hansard:
I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Measure:
Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014.
The following Measure was given Royal Assent:
Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.
Updated Wednesday evening, Thursday morning
The report of the Independent Inquiry, commissioned by the Archbishop of York and chaired by Judge Sally Cahill, into the Church of England’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester, was published today.
Press Association report in The Guardian Archbishop of York ‘deeply ashamed’ by church’s handling of abuse allegations
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Abusive priest ‘avoided prosecution because of failure to act on allegations’
Caroline Wyatt BBC Archbishop of York ‘wholehearted’ apology to abuse victims
At the request of some of those interviewed by the inquiry the report will not be made available in an electronic format but in hard copy only. Copies are available from Church House Bookshop.
Caroline Davies The Guardian Archbishop of York ashamed over Church of England’s abuse case failures
Madeleine Davies Church Times York Inquiry finds ‘systematic failure’ over abuse
Updated Monday morning and afternoon
The Measure completed is progress through Parliament today when the House of Commons agreed that it should be sent for Royal Assent.
The Hansard report of the debate is here.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has this summary of the debate, Commons debate women in the episcopate, which also includes “Next Steps”. [There is a correction to this, published on Thursday.]
General Synod members were this morning sent this note from the Secretary General.
I am pleased to report that the House of Commons approved the Measure to enable women to become bishops yesterday evening. Following the successful outcome in the House of Lords last Tuesday the way is now clear for Royal Assent, which is expected this Thursday.
The royal licence for the canon will be needed before the canon can be enacted by the Synod on 17 November. But there is every reason to believe that that will be forthcoming and we shall be therefore be putting the papers for the November Synod in the post this Thursday. They will be on-line at 2pm on Friday when the usual pre-Synod press conference is held at Church House. The way is now clear for members to proceed with train and hotel bookings for November.
The House of Lords today passed the motion to approve the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.
John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops approved by House of Lords
As John Bingham also notes:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, also disclosed during the debate that all the main Westminster political parties had signalled their support for a plan to fast-track the first women bishops into the Lords.
The debate in the House of Commons has now been scheduled for Monday of next week. Subject to a favourable vote in the Commons (which everybody expects) the measure will then only require the formality of the Royal Assent to come into effect.
The investigation into allegations against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, has been dropped.
The Gloucestershire Citizen also carries the story here with slightly more detail:
A statement from Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, Lead Bishop on Safeguarding for the Church of England said: “We can confirm that we have been notified by the Metropolitan Police that following enquiries they are to take no further action regarding the allegations made against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester.
“We would ask for continuing prayers for all of those affected by these events and those involved in ongoing processes.“
Bishop Michael said: “It was right that the allegations should be fully investigated and I am gratified that the police have completed the investigation and concluded that there are no grounds for further action to be taken
“My family and I are profoundly grateful for all the support and affirmation we have received through this very difficult time.”
Bishop Michael will not yet return to his post until due church processes have been concluded.
However he hopes the process will conclude in time for him to return to his post before he is due to retire as planned in November.
We earlier reported the news that Bishop Michael was ‘stepping back’ from his role in the diocese of Gloucester, pending his retirement in November.
The first of the Oxford Faith Debates took place last week.
Audio recordings of the whole proceedings are now available from this page.
Many of the papers delivered at the To Have and To Hold conference are now available from the LGBTI Anglican Coalition website.
Follow links from here.
Copies of these papers are now also available on the Inclusive Church website, at this page where they may be slightly easier to access.
Among them, the Digest of Methuen and Thatcher talks may be particularly useful for promoting local discussion groups on this topic.
The Ecclesiastical Committee’s report on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure is now available online.
The Measure has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent and come into effect. The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead a House of Lords debate to approve the measure next Tuesday (14 October). The debate in the House of Commons has not yet been scheduled.
The BBC reports: Jeremy Pemberton gay marriage case: Archbishop of York challenged
The Archbishop of York has been challenged over “discrimination” against a gay clergyman who married his same-sex partner.
Jeremy Pemberton can no longer work as a priest in Nottinghamshire and has been blocked from taking a job as a hospital chaplain in the county.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell challenged the archbishop over the case as he arrived at Southwell Minster.
However, Dr John Sentamu said he could not comment due to legal reasons.
Local newspapers carried the story too:
The Peter Tatchell Foundation reported it this way: Archbishop of York beset by gay protesters.
Updated Friday morning
Reform, the organisation of Conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England, has issued a press release, available here, and copied in full below the fold. It begins like this (emphasis added by TA in italics)
Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014
At it’s [sic] most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.
Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’
Andrew Brown discusses this announcement in this article: Church of England’s gay marriage split is as entrenched as ever
Hopes that the Church of England might be able to discuss its deep differences over gay people looked sillier yesterday after the conservative evangelical group Reform pulled out of conversations. It was upset over the failure to “admonish” a prominent liberal, while gay protestors led by Peter Tatchell heckled the archbishop of York over his backing for sanctions against a gay priest who has married his partner.
Reform’s press release dropped in first. The group is upset by three things. The headline is that it wants the bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, to stop calling conservative evangelicals (that would be Reform) “homophobic”, and to renounce his public support for gay marriage. Then it wants a crackdown on those priests who have married their partners. This is extremely difficult legally, as Wilson points out in public and the house of bishops has been told in private…
… But the real sticking point for Reform was the hope expressed by the bishops at their most recent meeting, “for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another.” They are Calvinists. They don’t want to live together with people who disagree with them – to be “yoked with unbelievers”, as St Paul put it. You can laugh at their demand not to be called “homophobic”, although it would be a small thing to grant them.
You can laugh, too, at the gloriously unrealistic demand that the church spend millions in legal battles with the equality law.
What is non-negotiable, though, is the group’s demand that the church deal with disagreement on this matter by expelling its opponents. It’s certainly a popular demand – on both sides. But it is the one thing against which the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has set his face. What he wants is “good disagreement”. For Reform – and, to be fair, for its opponents – what’s good about disagreement is the moment when the enemy crumbles…
Update The Church of England issued this media statement yesterday:
Statement on Shared Conversations on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission
09 October 2014
In a media statement dated October 6 2014 the council of Reform “expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed” at the recent meeting of the College of Bishops. In support of this claim the Council referred to the media statement released after the meeting claiming that the media report introduced a “new objective”.
The objectives of the Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission were set out in June 2014 by the Bishop of Sheffield in GS Misc 1083. These objectives remain unchanged. No new objective has been added.
The media statement did not report on the contents of the discussions held at the meeting of the College as those conversations were confidential to the groups. It was no more than a general report of the proceedings and should not be over-interpreted.
The media statement issued after the College of Bishops meeting was accompanied by a podcast which also explored the shared conversations. Neither the podcast nor the statement was intended to nor should be taken to replace, add to, subtract from, substitute or alter the process as set out in the Bishop of Sheffield’s paper. That document (GS Misc 1083) remains the authoritative statement of the objectives as set by the House of Bishops.
The above points have been communicated to Reform.
Media Statement Oct 6, 2014: Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014
REFORM CALLS FOR ‘DECISIVE INTERVENTION’ TO SAVE SHARED CONVERSATIONS ON SEXUALITY FROM COLLAPSE
At it’s most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.
Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’
The Council’s assessment was made after members heard that the original objectives of the conversations, as reported last July to the General Synod, had been severely narrowed. This emerged after the meeting of the College of Bishops in mid September, which described the second objective as creating ‘space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another…[to] ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith”.
This new objective requires participants:
To reject the current Church of England understanding that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage “should be met with a call for repentance and the exercise of compassion”
To accept the premise of the Pilling Report that the Bible isn’t clear on matters of sexuality - when, as the Bishop of Birkenhead’s Dissenting Statement argued, there is no sound reason for thinking it is unclear
To accept an outcome in which the Church moves from its present, biblical, understanding of marriage to one where we accommodate two separate beliefs, with one part of the Church calling for repentance over sexual sin and another declaring God’s blessing. This is tantamount to asking us to accept a redefinition of what will and will not lead to salvation - as though there could be two gospels, equally valid.
In advising its members not to get drawn into what was now a ‘deeply flawed’ process, The Council also warned about the steady erosion of the Church’s commitment to biblical authority - particularly in the field of sexuality. It noted:
The lack of a consistent and clear response to those clergy who have entered into same-sex marriages, thereby pre-empting the results of the shared conversations as pressure grows to accommodate ‘facts on the ground’;
The continued failure to admonish the Bishop of Buckingham, despite his refusal to uphold the teaching of the church and guidance of the House on matters of sexuality, whilst also allowing him, without criticism, repeatedly to describe Conservative Evangelicals as homophobic, including those who themselves experience same-sex attraction but seek to live celibate, God-honouring lives.
Note to editors:
Reform is a network of individuals and churches promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ by reforming the Church of England - www.reform.org.uk. It is one of the three bodies that sponsor ReNew.
College of Bishops Statement can be found here:
For further information please contact the Director, Susie Leafe on 07753690120 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Two reviews that have now appeared of the book More Perfect Union:
Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum Review of “More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage” by Bishop Alan Wilson
As the Church of England begins two years of Shared Conversations focussed on sexuality, probably the most vocal episcopal critic of current teaching and practice, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has set out his case for change in More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage (DLT). For those still unclear about the substance and tone of Anglican arguments for same-sex marriage this is a short, readable guide. Although helpful in giving a sense of much revisionist rhetoric and argument it suffers the fatal flaw he levels against his opponents (40) – preaching to the choir and cutting almost no ice with anyone else…
Ian Paul on Psephizo More Perfect Union?
I’ve had quite a few interactions with Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, mostly on line and (once) in person. On some occasions he has been reasonable, thoughtful and well-informed; on others, belligerent and polemical. So when I received this book for review, I was intrigued to know which way it would go. Unfortunately, it is the latter.
Reading the first couple of chapters was a very odd experience, and I could not work out why—until I realised I had entered a parallel universe—Wilson’s World, if you will. In this World, all sorts of odd things happen…
Update book launch event cancelled
Those who want to read the book for themselves may be interested in this event at Church House Bookshop: Book Launch: More Perfect Union?
And Alan Wilson wrote this piece for Comment is free earlier in the week: Any ‘biblical’ objection to gay marriage is nonsense. The C of E must admit this.
The Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen has written a review of Bishop Alan Wilson’s book More Perfect Union. Dr Methuen is Senior Lecturer in Church History and Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow.
Alan Wilson, More Perfect Union (London: DLT 2014). Pp. xx + 172. £9.99 (paperback).
In this short book, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, presents the case for extending marriage to include same-sex couples. Written in the heat of the debate about the Church of England’s response to the legal introduction of marriage for same-sex couples in England in 2014, Wilson’s book brings together a host of arguments and data which should prove thought-provoking even to those who disagree with his conclusions.
Wilson opens with an autobiographical note: selected to be Bishop of Buckingham in 2003, his consecration service was originally to be shared with Jeffrey John, who had been appointed Bishop of Reading. Wilson recounts his sense of bemusement as John, a gay man living in a celibate partnership, was pressured to withdraw from the appointment. Over the years that followed, Wilson became more uncomfortable with the inconsistent position being taken by the Church of England. He began to recognise that what God wants for gay people “is no more than he wanted for all people – flourishing faith, hope and love, lived out individually and in community” (p. xvi). For Wilson “allowing gay people to marry became … an issue of justice and equality.” Consequently, he affirms, “rejoicing with gay people who marry … no longer seemed to me a concession to secular modernity, but sharing the good news of the kingdom” (p. xvii). That around 80% of the messages he received as he began to explore these issues were supportive, suggests, Wilson remarks that, “the vast majority of people seemed to be travelling along a road like mine, including a sizeable number of Evangelical Christians” (p. xvii). This book is in many ways the account of that journey.
In Chapter 1, “Gay and straight in Church and State”, Wilson traces the legal status of gay people in the last 50 years, and the way that the Church of England has and (mostly) has not responded to the increasingly widespread recognition of same-sex relationships. These developments have taken place in wider context of rapid changes to patterns of relationships: in the early twenty-first century, people are marrying later than was the custom in previous generations, and they do so “to seal and not to form permanent relationships” (p. 15). That is (although Wilson does not make this point explicitly), the vast majority of couples who marry are already living together, and many have children. Marriage has come to be seen as the affirmation of a relationship, rather than marking a beginning.
Wilson next turns to the question “Unnatural?” Considering the accusation that same-sex relationships are unnatural, Wilson observes that concepts of the natural have changed radically over the centuries. Paul, for instance, “disapproved of ‘unnatural’ practices like men growing their hair, or women cutting it (1 Corinthians 11:14–15)”; in the twentieth century, women were long prevented from running the marathon on the grounds that “their bodies were not made for such exertions” (pp. 20-21). Moreover, modern biology has revealed unexpected complexities in the definition of gender and sexual difference; the definition of sexual orientation is even more complicated. For Wilson, the important recognition is that all people have (as the 1928 wedding liturgy puts it), “natural instincts and affections implanted by God [which] need to be hallowed and directed aright.” Relationships, he suggests, “are judged better by their fruit than by their configuration” (p. 34).
“Equality or bust,” chapter 3, considers the question of the definition of marriage. Is it really the case that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would represent a profound – and indeed impossible – redefinition of the fundamental meaning of marriage? Wilson argues that in reality, marriage “has been radically and continuously redefined down the ages by the lived experience of married people” (p. 40). Moreover, this category, he suggests, has in the past included same-sex couples. Consequently, “portentous assertions that monogamy between a man and a woman has been the anthropological gold standard from the dawn of time are simply false” (p. 40). Wilson argues also that equality of treatment is fundamental to the biblical message: “St Paul tells the Romans… that ‘God shows no partiality’” (p. 51).
Wilson turns next to the biblical witness. In “Scripture 101” he considers how to read the biblical text, pointing out that the Bible was long used to defend practices which are now seen as wrong, such as slavery or the use of corporal punishment for children. Addressing “Things gays are liable to read in the Bible,” he considers the six biblical passages which might be held to speak to homosexuality (these, as he remarks, comprise 0.002% of the verses of the Bible, compared to around 10% of Bible verses which refer to matters of economic justice – p. 62). These verses, Wilson concludes, do not address homosexuality in the modern understanding of the word, but are concerned with men who take on the role of women in that they allow themselves to be penetrated during a sexual encounter. The single text which may refer to same-sex relations between women, Romans 1:26-27, could (although Wilson does not say so) equally be interpreted to imply that women were sleeping with men in ways deemed unnatural. Wilson does remark on the “complete absence in the New Testament of any of the extensive standard assortment of Greek words that would have been used naturally to describe the enormous amount of same-sex activity that went on in ancient cities” (p. 80). He concludes: “The discipline that enable Christians to hear the word of God according to the love of God is .. obedience to the New Testament injunction to discern the spirits and make love our aim” (p. 81).
Considering “Biblical marriage”, Wilson points out that the Hebrew Scriptures contain “at least seven different definitions of marriage” (p. 84), most of which see marriage as a property transaction between two men, with a woman as the property. In the New Testament, “Jesus teaches that marriage is a provisional institution with roots in creation. … It is a way of arranging other matters of this age, like property, inheritance and dynastic legitimacy, all of them less important than the kingdom” (p. 89). It is emphatically not for all, and celibacy is clearly a favoured option. In the Pauline epistles, subordination of the wife is accepted as the norm, although men are urged to love their wives, and Paul certainly sees marriage as a mutual relationship. Marriage in the New Testament comes also to function as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church, just as in the Old Testament the relationship between God and Israel had been described in terms either of marriage or of harlotry. Here, none of the realities often cited as fundamental to marriage – gender difference, the ability to conceive children, or a particular understanding of sexual intercourse – can be held to apply.
In chapter 7, Wilson addresses “The irresistible rise of Christian marriage”, which he sees as involving four phases: marriage as a “pre-endtime encumbrance” (33-100 CE), as a “secular institution” (100-1200), as an “indissoluble sacrament” (since 1300 and still an ideal, although now “largely an empty shell”), and as a “partnership of equals” (since 1650 and increasingly seen as the ideal). Chapter 8, “Geopolitics and mission”, counters the argument that the persecution of Christians elsewhere should mitigate against arguments for equality in the North and West: “We know … that the Nigerian terrorist movement Boko Haram disapproves intensely of young women being educated… Would closing down [educational opportunities for women in the West] really moderate Boko Haram’s behaviour?” (p. 133). Wilson here also considers the meaning of unity for the Church, concluding that “Honest disagreement that takes everyone as seriously as everyone else can transcend any particular culture and offer hope to a world in sore and increasing need of reconciliation and healing” (p. 146).
In a final chapter, “The law of the land, and that’s great”, Wilson discusses possible ways forward for the Church of England in the face of the introduction of same sex marriage. Wilson sees this move as an opportunity for the Church: “Marriages that are good news reflect equality in diversity and a genuine reciprocity, their own personal and distinctive complementarity, that is bigger than the imposition of crude gender stereotypes, Such marriages offer a special opportunity for those within them to reflect the vales of the kingdom of God in which all are equal” (pp. 163-4).
This is an important book. Wilson admits from the outset that it “is not, in any sense, an academic tome” (p. xvi). There is a wealth of evidence here, some of which would have benefitted from brief references or indication of further reading. Wilson is keen to emphasise the shifting meaning of words, but takes 1 Tim 5’s “widows” in a modern sense, as women whose husbands have died, neglecting the meaning of women who choose to live without men; this flattens the meaning of that text and in my view warps his interpretation. I would have like more reflection on developments between the Pauline letters and the (almost certainly pseudepigraphical) Pastoral epistles, which seem to represent a rather different understanding of the role of women than that offered by Paul. The style suggests that this is a book written in haste, and it certainly speaks to the moment. But that is necessary, and right: and it is much to be applauded that a bishop of the Church of England has chosen to speak out on the question of equal marriage.
DLT Books has issued a press release announcing the publication of More Perfect Union: Understanding Same-sex Marriage by Alan Wilson. The text of this is reproduced below the fold.
John Bingham wrote about this book in the Telegraph under the headline One in 10 Church of England bishops ‘could be secretly gay’ – says bishop.
Alan Wilson has written on his blog about some recent reactions to his book, and about the recent College of Bishops meeting for “shared conversations”: Ins and Outs and Same-Sex Marriage.
** PRESS RELEASE FROM DLT BOOKS **
‘Alan Wilson is the only bishop in the Church of England who speaks for the full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the Church. In this powerful statement, he sets out the scientific, theological and Biblical reasons which have led him to believe that this is the truly Christian option.’ - Linda Woodhead MBE
‘An extraordinarily valuable contribution to the quest for an open and honest conversation around an issue that the Church can no longer sweep under the ecclesiastical carpet.’ – Steve Chalke
‘The joy of this book is a bishop telling the truth, not least about the way the gay issue has been handled in recent history, and the awful dishonesties in which we are now entrammelled as a result.’ – Jeffrey John
In a recent interview with Pink News Archbishop Justin Welby acknowledged that the Church of England had to accept same-sex marriage is now law in England and Wales, but Welby himself voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Act in the House of Lords in 2013. Indeed, even after having been passed into law on 29 March 2014, when the balloon went up and Messrs. Peter McGraith and David Cabreza made Britain’s first same-sex marriage at Islington Town Hall, many leaders of the Church of England remain strongly opposed. So much so that Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married his long-term partner in April, was told to stop leading services and then barred from a post as an NHS chaplain.
In this important and timely book Alan Wilson argues that allowing gay people to marry is a moral purpose. Indeed, there is a burgeoning movement within the Church broadly in favour of same-sex marriage, not to mention leaders of the Church already in gay partnerships, who wish for their religion to fully ratify and acknowledge their relationships.
Wilson says: ‘I asked myself “what does God want for gay people?”. After re-revisiting the Bible, and more importantly getting to know gay people of all types and varying backgrounds, he decided the answer was that God wants for them the same as everyone else – flourishing faith, hope and love, involvement and inclusion.
Meanwhile, from a scientific perspective, More Perfect Union? asserts that homosexuality is part of a wide range of human sexual longing and expression, not an anomaly, a sickness, nor merely a lifestyle choice.
The vast majority of people Wilson encountered on his journey toward being in favour of same-sex marriage were not anti-gay, were ‘just trying to love their neighbour as themselves’, even if, in some cases, their heads lagged behind their hearts on the issue of gay marriage.
The ultimate aim of this book is to help Christians unite head and heart in a fully positive response to gay people marrying, and to enable them to wholeheartedly rejoice in such union, in doing so shaking off the hangover of years of stereotyping, fear and discrimination about gay people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alan Wilson became Bishop of Buckingham in 2003 after more than 20 years as an urban and suburban parish priest, and some prison ministry, and has a doctorate in Church History. He has been married for over 30 years, and has 5 children.
Diocese of Guildford: nomination of Andrew Watson
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 September 2014
Part of: Community and society
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew Watson for election as Bishop of Guildford.
The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew John Watson MA, Bishop of Aston, for election as Bishop of Guildford in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher John Hill BD AKC MTh, whose resignation took effect on 30 November 2013.
Andrew Watson is 53 and studied law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was also a music exhibitioner, regularly playing his bassoon in various orchestras and chamber groups.
Following 2 years as a caretaker and youth worker in Islington, he trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, where he met his future wife Beverly (who has since been ordained herself).
He served his title at St Peter’s, Ipsley, in Worcester diocese from 1987 to 1991, leading a church on the council estate where they lived, and served a second curacy at St John and St Peter, Notting Hill, in London diocese from 1991 to 1996, restoring the Grade 2* listed church of St Peter (which features prominently in the movie Notting Hill), and developing a community café, nursery school and prison visiting team.
From 1996 to 2008 he was Vicar of St Stephen’s, East Twickenham, in London diocese, where he planted 3 further churches and led teams to Norway and Sweden, Donetsk and the slums of Delhi.
He was a member of the General Synod from 2000 to 2008 and Area Dean of Hampton from 2003 to 2008.
In October 2008, he was consecrated Bishop in St Paul’s Cathedral. Since then he has served as the Suffragan Bishop of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham, overseeing the programme ‘Transforming Church’.
Andrew and Beverly have 2 girls and 2 boys, Hannah (24), Sam (22), Joe (19) and Lydia (15). He is the author of The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus (Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) 2008), Confidence in the Living God (BRF 2009) and The Way of the Desert (BRF 2011). He remains a keen musician and a China enthusiast, and enjoys reading, cooking, photography and walking stretches of the South West Coast Path.
From the Birmingham diocesan website: Bishop David is delighted that Bishop Andrew Watson is to be the new Bishop of Guildford
From the Guildford diocesan website: New Bishop of Guildford announced
Unanswered questions on Pilling report
There are problems about its use of science and other evidence, says Chris Cook
At the College of Bishops’ residential meeting this week, the Pilling report was scheduled for further discussion (News, 12 September). The report is the work of the House of Bishops Working Group on sexuality, and was published last November.
In January, the College of Bishops published a statement acknowledging the “strongly held and divergent” views reflected in the report, and accepting its recommendation for “facilitated conversations” to continue the process of listening, reflection, and discussion. There are, however, several important questions that need to be addressed about the report, particularly on its approach to the evidence and use of science.
The report has been criticised from both sides of the debate, but the process of facilitated conversation requires that we all, with the Bishops, give it careful attention. It raises questions not only about how we interpret scripture, but also about how we interpret our knowledge of sexuality. The often unexamined assumptions about the relationship between science and theology which are embedded in these interpretative processes influence both the way in which we go about the debate, and the conclusions that we reach.
The working group that produced the Pilling report was asked to “draw together and reflect upon biblical, historical, and ecumenical explorations on human sexuality”, as well as other material arising from the listening process after the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
This task need not necessarily have involved attention to scientific explorations, and the group does not appear to have had a scientific adviser. It is commendable, therefore, that the group recognised the importance of the scientific evidence, and devoted a whole chapter of its report to it.
Reflecting on the scientific evidence, the group concludes that “neither the medical nor the social sciences have arrived at any firm consensus that would impact decisively on the moral arguments.” It further notes that it is in the nature of science to test hypotheses against evidence, and that the theses that emerge can always be challenged by new evidence.
Similarly, “the teaching of the Church, like a thesis in scientific enquiry, stands until the evidence contradicting it is sufficient to change it.” Such transformative evidence is not solely scientific, but it is clear that the group understood that, in part, it may be scientific. Unfortunately, it found that the evidence was “not unequivocal”, and that scientists “find their scientific knowledge supporting different conclusions”.
The reader may conclude that the scientific evidence did not help much. When it comes to reflecting on the traditional Anglican recourse to scripture, tradition, and reason, science — as a strand of reason — seems to contribute little or nothing to the conclusions reached in the report, other than to reinforce the sense of irreconcilable disagreement.
Perhaps, then, it is time to put aside the science, and return to the more important biblical and theological debate. This, I think, would be a deeply mistaken conclusion, and, clearly, the working group does, too; for it recommends that the Church should continue to pay attention to the “as yet inconclusive scientific work on same-sex attraction”.
“Same-sex attraction” is not a phrase that appears in scripture, and the working group — wisely, in my view — identifies the importance of the “Is this really that?” question as a key determinant of the different ways in which we interpret scripture on matters such as this. So when we discuss this (homosexuality or any other matter), we must ask whether or not it is the same as the that to which the biblical text refers.
If, however, this question is to be followed through faithfully, it requires that careful biblical exegesis be accompanied by an equally careful analysis of the scientific evidence. Both scripture and scientific evidence have to be interpreted, and each plays a part in the interpretation of the other, whatever privilege we may feel that we need to give one or the other.
But the interpretation of science, the “Is this …?” part of the question, is not the same as the interpretation of scripture, the “… really that?” part.
The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, a member of the working group, found himself unable to sign the Pilling report. A dissenting statement and an appendix concerning scripture and same-sex relationships, both written by him, are, however, published with the report.
In the latter, he expresses concern that there has been a revisionist re-reading of scripture. Presumably, he is concerned that non-traditional interpretations of scripture have been adopted (by some) without due regard to a weight of biblical scholarship that continues to affirm the “traditional” biblical teaching on homosexuality.
Yet I do not believe that this is the primary problem. There has been a revisionist “reading” of our experience of human sexuality, and this, at least in part, has come about because of the way in which we now read scientifically.
First, our scientific concept of homosexuality is a modern one, acknowledging diversity within the range of normal sexual orientation; and, as such, was completely unknown to the Early Church.
Second, this scientific concept of homosexuality is no longer considered pathological, and mainstream scientific and clinical thinking concerning its origin and implications has changed out of all recognition; expectations for good professional practice now reflect this.
Third, as outlined in the report Some Issues in Human Sexuality (2003), there have been significant changes of understanding in Church and society more widely relating to various aspects of sexuality, including divorce and contraception, as well as homosexuality. As a result, we now interpret the metaphorical “text” of sexuality very differently from the ways we did 50 or 100 years ago.
Radical changes such as these have led to what Bishop Sinclair refers to as “revisionist” readings of scripture; but it is misleading and unhelpful to refer to re-readings in this way. There is no traditional reading of scripture on homosexuality to be revised, given that the modern scientific concept of homosexuality was unknown until the 19th century.
Notwithstanding the view of the whole working group that the scientific evidence is uncertain, many Christian professionals, as well as gay and lesbian Christians, experience significant unease at the way in which traditional readings of the Bible on homosexual behaviour have become associated with prejudice towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Traditional readings of scripture that now appear to promote such prejudice have therefore given way to new readings that seek to show that scripture is still authoritative and redemptive.
One problem, then, is that we are confused about whether we are talking primarily about the interpretation of scripture, or the interpretation of human experience, and that these two hermeneutic processes are inextricably linked with one another, at least - but not only - for Christians in the Western world.
A second problem that I encounter as a practical theologian, and as a scientist reading this report, is that I do not see the critical rigour in evaluating scientific evidence which I should expect to find here. This is evident in numerous ways, but a single example may suffice to illustrate the nature of the problem.
The submission from the Royal College of Psychiatrists is quoted in support of a now widely accepted clinical and scientific view, based on peer-reviewed publications, that homosexual orientation is compatible with normal mental health. It is the experience of stigma and discrimination in society that contributes to the greater-than-expected mental-health problems experienced by some gay and lesbian people.
The report, however, immediately counterbalances this viewpoint with an opposing one, taken from a booklet published by a Christian organisation committed to a particular theological view in relation to matters of sexuality, Core Issues Trust.
Thus, it is alleged, the view of the Royal College is “neither proven nor ruled out by the evidence”, and an alternative possibility, that homosexual orientation “cuts against a fundamental gender-based given of the human condition, thus causing distress”, is equally neither proved nor ruled out.
Having consulted the peer-reviewed primary-research papers on which the opposing viewpoints are based, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Core Issues Trust has simply marshalled scientific evidence in support of a position that has previously been determined by a particular interpretation of scripture. Thus, the point of view that it promotes is not so much based on scientific evidence as it is an apologetic for a theological tradition.
It is impossible, however, to reach this conclusion (or the alternative possible conclusion that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has misinterpreted the scientific evidence in support of another agenda), without consulting the primary-research publications oneself. Unfortunately, in its report, the working group shows little evidence of having done this.
A third and more fundamental problem is that science and theology are both concerned with asking and answering questions. The six questions chosen for attention in the section of the report which deals with scientific evidence are themselves significant.
The first question, dealing with sexual dimorphism, evokes an answer concerned largely with intersex syndromes and transsexualism, both of which are more or less beside the point so far as homosexuality is concerned. And yet none of the questions deals with the important issue why homosexuality is no longer classified as a psychiatric disorder.
There is a question about the causes of homosexuality, and much is made about what we do not know by way of answer, but there is no question asking whether homosexuality is something that people choose, or whether it is something more essential to personal identity, something that is discovered about oneself rather than chosen.
It is not clear how the scientific questions addressed in the report were identified, but the choice of questions would seem to have been significant in determining the conclusions reached. Some questions that were not asked are inherently both scientific and theological, notably the all-important “What is natural?” Failure to ask these difficult questions has let us all off the hook in relation to the thorny problem of how we engage scientific with theological reasoning in our understanding of sexuality.
This, in turn, has made it difficult to develop a coherent Christian view of sexuality which has both scientific and theological integrity.
A fourth and final problem that has not been addressed is that scientific terminology is precise, and open to examination — even when contested — in a way that ancient Hebrew and Greek terminology (for example, words such as “arsenokoitēs”) is not.
Homosexuality is a modern term; St Paul never talks about “homosexuality”, but only about homosexual acts and desires (and using language that is different from ours).
Scientific discourse on homosexuality requires that we distinguish carefully between sexual orientation, sexual identity (which has anatomical, genetic, psychological, and social dimensions), sexual attraction, and sexual behaviour. This care is sometimes lacking in the report.
Thus, questions are formed using words that are not quite right for the purpose (for example: “Is sexual attraction fixed and immutable?” when it is actually sexual orientation that appears to be under discussion). Sexual identity is discussed only in the section on homophobia, and none of these terms seems to be adequately defined anywhere in the report.
Had the scientific questions been chosen differently, and had the evidence been evaluated more critically in searching for the answers to them, I believe that the theological implications might have been different, or at least more helpful.
We interpret scripture, scientific evidence, and our experience of our sexuality according to complex and often hidden assumptions, which do not always lead us to sound conclusions. Where we start, whether with scripture or science, is probably less important than having the wisdom to formulate the right questions, the courage to ask them, and a constructively critical, rigorous, but also compassionate spirit with which to pursue the answers.
As we approach the process of facilitated conversation which the Pilling report has recommended, and which the Bishops have endorsed, I hope that more critical attention will be given to the scientific evidence. It has the potential to help us to address new questions to scripture, which, in turn, may help us to find that scripture is authoritative and salvific in ways that we had not previously expected.
In response, scripture presents us with important theological and prophetic questions about patterns of stigma and prejudice, which science has identified as underlying (and consequential upon) much mental ill-health.
Dr Chris Cook is Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University.
The projected timetable (see below) for the November 2014 Group of Sessions of General Synod has been published here. It is accompanied by this note:
The holding of the group of sessions remains contingent on the legislation to enable Women to become Bishops having completed all its remaining stages. It was found expedient by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament on 22 July and will debated in the House of Lords on 14 October. We await a date for the Commons debate. A further update will be published as soon as possible and in any event before the end of October.
Monday 17 November
1.45 pm – 7.15 pm
1.45 pm Worship
Report by the Business Committee
Enactment of Amending Canon No 33 (relating to Women in the Episcopate)
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury
* Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis – First Consideration
* C of E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Amending Canon No 35 (relating to Canon B 12) – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution
* C of E (Naming of Dioceses) Measure – Revision Stage
4.40 pm ‘Take Note’ debate on the Professional Guidelines for the Clergy
5.40 pm Worship
Tuesday 18 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm
Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall
10.30 am Presentation followed by Debate on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria
12.15 pm Legislative Business (Continued from Monday 17 November)
2.15 pm – 5.00 pm
2.15 pm Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Joint Implementation Commission
Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion on the Spare Room Subsidy
4.40 pm Farewells
Priavte Member’s Motion on Canon B 38
The BBC has reported that the Archdeacon of Cheltenham has said that New Bishop of Gloucester ‘likely to be a woman’.
The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be in the Gloucester diocese, a senior clergyman has said.
The archdeacon of Cheltenham’s comments came during an open meeting where some 70 people shared their views on what qualities the new bishop should have.
The Venerable Robert Springett said he felt the likelihood was “really pretty high” as the diocese could now pick the best person regardless of gender.
Cheltenham is one of the two archdeaconries in the Diocese of Gloucester.
Gloucester will be the first diocese to hold both of its Crown Nominations Commission meetings after the expected coming into effect in November of all the legislation allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. The meetings are scheduled for 8 January and 19/20 February 2015.
Law & Religion UK has a detailed discussion about this topic, triggered by this headline in the Mail on Sunday:
Vicars set to reveal secrets of confession: Church of England may axe 400-year-old sacred law to let clergy report sex attackers
The very very thorough analysis by David Pocklington is here: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Do read it all.
Here’s a press release from The National Estate Churches Network:
Farewell to Welfare!?
National Estate Churches Network Annual Conference 2014
1st October St James Church Thurland Rd, Bermondsey, London SE16 4AA
15th October St Michael in the City Upper Pitt St, Liverpool L1 5DB
The National Estate Churches Network has sent us news of their forthcoming conference:
This year’s annual conference explores the effect that the Cuts are having on the people of our poorer housing estates. We are really excited that our keynote speaker at both venues is John Battle the brilliant long-time campaigner and advocate for those who are marginalised. As well as high quality input, there will be time to share and reflect together. What does our Christian Faith demand of us who live and work with those who really feel the impact of benefit reform? Can we make the system better or is it really ‘Farewell to Welfare’?
Book online or you can phone or text 07933 438304 for a booking form.
A whole day conference at just £20 including lunch.
1st October or 15th October 2014 10am-3.30pm
The Church of England started its series of “shared conversations” on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission this week in the College of Bishops. The College has just finished its meeting and published this press release.
College of Bishops Meeting
17 September 2014
The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.
The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church “proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation” as a missionary church in a changing culture ?
The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?
As part of the conversations the college shared the different responses being expressed in the life of the church and the deeply held convictions and experiences that inform them. In this the college reflected the diversity of experience and view held by the country as a whole. The college also acknowledged that at this stage it was not seeking to achieve consensus nor to make any decisions but rather the purpose was being open to see Jesus Christ in those who took an opposing view to their own position.
The resource materials and process prepared for the college will be further developed in the light of the experience there before they are rolled out in regional conversations early next year.
In addition to participating in the shared conversation process the college received presentations on a wide range of issues including Iraq and the Middle East, Science and Religion, Discipleship, Resourcing Ministerial Education and other matters.
A podcast interview with the Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop of Manchester reflecting on the shared conversation process is available here.
Church of England press release: Reflections on shared conversations process ahead of College of Bishops
15 September 2014
In a podcast interview Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, and the Revd Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, talk about the process of shared conversations that has flowed [from] the Pilling report as the College of Bishops of the Church of England gathers for its annual residential meeting in Leicestershire.
The College will conduct shared conversations for the next two days in small groups with the discussions remaining confidential, mirroring the wider proposed process.
In an interview recorded ahead of the meeting of the College David Porter and Malcolm Brown recognised that whilst a uniform view on the issues was highly unlikely, the potential for the Church to model a different and more Christ like way of disagreement would be crucial.
Malcolm Brown said: “There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. There’s a lot of reassurance that says this is what it says on the tin and it’s not something hidden.”
David Porter added: “For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with.….And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to disagree well, that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decision will have to be made, the way we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are brothers and sisters of Christ. And that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our convictions on these issues.” He adds that he hopes people will see the way the conversations are being held and say: “Look at how these Christians love one another because of the way they disagree well.”
Listen to the interview here:
The interview is 11 minutes long.
The Pilling report is here:
The Church Times has a report of this by Madeleine Davies headlined ‘No hidden agenda’ behind sexuality conversations
THERE is no “hidden agenda” behind the shared conversations on sexuality that begin this week, the Church of England’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs said on Monday.
In a recording published on the Church of England website, Dr Malcolm Brown spoke of a desire to ensure that “some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations, about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope we have unpacked that sufficiently . . . to show that isn’t the case.”
Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, charged with overseeing the conversations, said: “It is what it says on the tin. It’s a process of shared conversation. It’s about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence because someone is there helping hold the ring, so that all voices will be heard; that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality, and the diversity that exists within the Church, about how we should respond as people of faith to that…
This article also repeats the remarks from the Bishop of Willesden that we reported on earlier here.
Today’s Church Times contains two items relating to the legal action taken by Jeremy Pemberton.
News report: Madeleine Davies Pemberton mounts a legal challenge over lost NHS job
and (same link, scroll down) Rob Clucas The Bishop’s ruling: a legal opinion.
From the news report:
…On Tuesday, a spokesman for the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We have received notification of legal action by Canon Jeremy Pemberton, and at this stage we have no further comment to make.” No comment has been received from the Archbishop of York.
Once an employment-tribunal claim is received by an employer, he or she is usually required to respond within 28 days. One of the uncertainties of this case is whether or not the Bishops can be defined as employers.
On Tuesday, Dr Russell Sandberg, senior lecturer in law at Cardiff University, said: “It depends upon the facts of the case - there is now no presumption that ministers of religion are not employees.
“Furthermore, the definition of employee for discrimination-law purposes is wider than [it is] for unfair dismissal.”
Dr Sandberg also suggested that bishops of the established Church could be considered as holding a public office.
The case, if it is accepted by a tribunal, will also test the interpretation of the Equality Act (2010). Dr Sandberg said: “Organised religions can rely upon an exception from the normal rules forbidding discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, either in order to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.”
He warned, however, that the scope and extent of these exceptions was “largely unknown, given the lack of case law, and uncertainty which arose in parliamentary debates”.
From the opinion article:
…But there are complicating factors. First, I understand that the post would be paid for by the NHS. In this situation, is the Church the employer, or the NHS Trust? The NHS Trust, as a public body, has specific positive duties in relation to the Equality Act and sexual orientation (and other protected characteristics), and it is not clear how these would be reconciled with the permitted discrimination under Schedule 9(2). Also, could the Church be a public body? This is at present unclear.
Second, there is a question mark about how adequately the Equality Act 2010 gives effect to the European directive that it was aiming to implement (transpose). Is the implementation of the European legislation defective in failing to require proportionality in the compliance and non-conflict principles of Schedule 9(2) of the Act? This was the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its second report on the Equality Bill, concerning the amendments to the Bill that were made at committee stage in the House of Lords.
Where domestic legislation attempting to transpose the directive fails, and a case comes to court, there is a general obligation in EU law on the domestic court or tribunal to interpret the national law in a way that gives effect to European law. If the Act cannot be reinterpreted to comply with the directive, there may be a claim of direct effect, if the case is against a public body.
Whether a remedy is available to an individual will depend on the possibility of the direct effectiveness of the framework directive in the case of the Church’s (or the NHS Trust’s) being a public body in refusing to employ clergy in a same-sex marriages.
Canon Pemberton’s decision to take legal action against the Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham is interesting. The law here is complex and unclear…
Updated again Monday evening
Last month Rachel Mann wrote on her blog about Shared Conversations’ and the place of LGBTI people in the C of E.
‘When are the shared conversations starting and who’s going to be involved?’
…I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this (by church standards!) imminent process in the past couple of weeks. While this fact is no doubt a symptom of my need to get out more, my rumination is also unsurprising. Like pretty much every LGBT person who has chosen to stick around within the church I am profoundly conscious of the extent to which ‘we’ have been treated as something to be talked about, as an issue. So there’s a part of me that’s intrigued by the possibility that we might be talked to. Really talked to.
And, yet, the Pilling Report was also, supposedly, part of a process of being talked to and with. As someone who conversed at length with members of the Pilling Committee I’m not especially convinced I was listened to. It would not be beyond the possibility that I might be the kind of person who was asked to participate in the upcoming conversations. (And I suspect there will be a goodly number of people who – as much out of a desire to know what this process will involve – will be keen to participate.) And yet that previous experience has made me suspicious of the whole process.
In some respects it feels like the world is changing fast. The number of ‘coming outs’ recently, including Vicky Beeching, has hopefully left some church people thinking, ‘are there actually any straight people in the church?’ (;-D). However, the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton and the patchy nature of support for LGBT people in the C of E should give pause. As someone said to me recently, ‘We live in a bubble in Manchester diocese.’ It is a place where – more or less – LGBT lay and ordained can thrive and feel supported. You don’t have to travel too far outside the bounds of the city to experience a quite different reality.
Why am I suspicious about the ‘shared conversation’ process? Partly because ‘conversations’ have been going on in one form or another since at least the Consultations of the ‘70s. And yet it’s not clear that the C of E institution qua institution has shifted that much.
However, I am more concerned about whether the conversations will truly be conversations. The notion of ‘conversation’ includes the meanings of a ‘turning together’ or a ‘changing together’ as well as a living amongst or dwelling together. It is a mesmerizing possibility, but given things like the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement (aka The Valentine’s Day Massacre) it’s difficult for those of us who have been traditionally excluded from welcome in the church to trust that those with power, privilege and authority will genuinely place their privilege at risk of conversion, of conversation.
I believe that, in conversation, a mutual conversion to one other is certainly possible and I guess many of us would still be willing to give it a go. But we’d better hope God is around to give all participants a reality check, a regular kick in the shins.
This week Accepting Evangelicals has published A Woman’s Courage and the House of Bishops…. This discusses the case of Vicky Beeching who is a Patron of AE. But it then goes on to discuss the meeting next week of the College of Bishops:
…Next week, the Church of England’s College of Bishops meet to talk about sexuality. They will spend 2 days together with facilitators trying to find a way to have open conversations on the issue.
According to the CofE briefing paper, “Under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, Canon David Porter, a team of around 20 trained facilitators will support a process of conversations across the Church of England. They will bring the skills necessary to ensure that the process provides a safe place for all viewpoints to be expressed and to keep the conversations to the objective of seeking understanding rather than having any predetermined trajectory. The process will begin at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September where the bishops will spend two days working in small groups with facilitators.”
These shared conversations are essential for the Church of England, but they will only work if the conversations are truly open and honest. That will take courage.
There are many Bishops who support same-sex relationships but have been too afraid to say what they really think. As one diocesan Bishop said to me at General Synod, “Benny, you know what I think, but I’m chicken – I am too afraid to say it!”
There is also a sizeable minority of the Bishops who are gay themselves. For many of them it is an open secret – one which is only protected by the loyalty and compassion of others which will not ‘out them’ to the world. How stressful must it be for them to continually keep quiet or deflect the conversation or sign up to statements which strike at the very heart of their being.
If the shared conversations next week are to move the Church forward, there must be a greater honesty, greater courage, and greater grace at work than ever before.
Women are renowned for their moral courage, and although there are no women Bishops in post yet, perhaps the courage of people like Vicky Beeching can inspire and challenge our Bishops to have a more open and honest conversation next week. It is certainly long overdue.
The Church Times carries a news report on the forthcoming meeting, see Bishop ‘not optimistic’ on eve of shared conversations by Madeleine Davies.
This article has now been replaced by a new one reporting on the recorded interview published on 15 September, but it still contains the remarks quoted below.
…On Tuesday, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said: “It won’t be an easy conversation - more difficult than that on women bishops - but we are absolutely going with this. . . It is clear that the facilitated conversations over women bishops did make a difference in terms of helping people understand each other better.”
He was, however, “not optimistic about the outcomes. Archbishop Justin has broached the concept of ‘good disagreement’. I don’t think we know what that might look like. There is a huge polarity between those who want the C of E to hold to its historic understanding of marriage - and not to change its canonical and liturgical formulae - and those who want the C of E to embrace total equal treatment, expressed in a change in relation to doctrine, marriage, and pastoral practice. Some are looking for a ‘two integrities’ approach - personally, I can’t see the Church holding together on that kind of basis.”
LGBTI Anglican Coalition supports Church of England’s Shared Conversations
From 15 to 17 September, the College of Bishops of the Church of England will be meeting for two days to start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The LGBTI Anglican Coalition welcomes this first step and our members will be praying for a successful outcome to the meeting. Although we have reservations about the context in which this is taking place – articulated very clearly in the recent letter sent from the Trustees of Changing Attitude to all those attending the meeting – nevertheless we welcome the initiative, and hope it bears fruit.
We believe that there are two specific ways in which the College can and should signal that the meeting has been successful.
* The first is to affirm in public that some of their members are themselves gay or bisexual.
* The second is to affirm that within the College there exists a diversity of opinion about the policy issues surrounding sexuality, including both the recognition of civil partnerships and the acceptability of same-sex marriage as a legal right.
These two small steps would do much to enhance the credibility of the bishops, and to encourage LGBTI clergy and laity to participate in subsequent stages of the conversations process.
The following statement has been issued by the lawyers acting for Canon Jeremy Pemberton:
STATEMENT REGARDING LEGAL ACTION TAKEN BY JEREMY PEMBERTON
“Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first British clergyman to enter a same sex marriage, has confirmed that he has filed an Equality Act claim in the Employment Tribunal against the Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. The action is being brought because of the sanctions imposed upon him as a result of his marriage. Canon Pemberton married his long term partner Laurence Cunnington in April of this year. Shortly thereafter his permission to officiate was revoked and a licence for chaplaincy work was refused. This led to the withdrawal of a job offer from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Commenting on his decision to issue proceedings in respect of the alleged discrimination that he has suffered, Canon Pemberton said “I am deeply saddened that I have had to take this step against church authorities. However, I feel I have been left with little choice, having found myself being punished and discriminated against simply for exercising my right to marry. I will be making no further comment until these matters have been resolved through the court process.”
Among those assisting Canon Pemberton in his claim are Helen Trotter, a specialist employment and discrimination barrister from Kings Chambers and leading ecclesiastical lawyer, the Revd Justin Gau, from Pump Court Chambers.”
8th September 2014
A week ago the Trustees of Changing Attitude England wrote to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17 when they will start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.
The change in attitude and practice which the shared conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod. Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages.
The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Many already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. Some bishops give their blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.
The Reverend Colin Coward MBE, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:
“The internal divisions in the House of Bishops over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious. The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.
“The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.
“There is a noticeable increase in despair and depression among LGBTI clergy. Partnered clergy are unwilling to marry and those in civil partnership are reluctant to convert their CP to marriage fearing hostile action from their bishop. LGBTI clergy conclude that they will never be able to move to a new post if they marry and that there is effectively no future for them in the Church of England. Potential ordinands are dissuaded from pursuing a vocation.
“People are angry at what they perceive to be the hypocrisy in the incoherent practice of the House of Bishops and the failure to honour lesbian and gay clergy who marry, are in a civil partnership, known to be living with a partner or in a relationship. The teaching of the House of Bishops is now effectively that lesbian and gay clergy couples should live in an unmarried state rather than committing themselves publicly to one another in fidelity and love. Men and women in ministry no longer want to work in an environment which is deceitful and dishonest.”
Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.
We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:
- There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
- Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
- The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.
The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.
The text of the letter:
To the College of Bishops and elected senior women
We are writing to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17. We urge a change of policy and practice on the College and House. The current situation is creating high levels of anxiety and insecurity for LGBTI clergy, ordinands and those exploring a vocation, and to some extent, licensed lay ministers as well.
The change in attitude and practice which the mutual conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod but a change in Church practice has already happened.
Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Christians allow themselves the freedom to marry and to construct their faith and their ethics and morality according to their reading of Scripture, their inheritance in the faith, prayerfully and after deep reflection and encounter with the living God.
The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Some of you give your blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.
The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.
Whatever fruits the mutual conversations bear following their conclusion in November 2016, many of you in the College of Bishops and many members of General Synod already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. This is already the practice of many in our Church.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton
We are writing now because of the refusal of Richard Inwood, acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, to grant Canon Jeremy Pemberton a licence because of his marriage to Laurence Cunnington. As a result, Jeremy’s appointment as Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services Manager at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was withdrawn.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton’s case has attracted a lot of media attention. The media and the majority of people don’t understand what the Church is doing and are confused by the attitude of bishops. This is having a very negative effect on people’s impression of the Church, on the integrity of Christianity in England and on mission and evangelism, reinforcing people’s perception of the Church as systemically prejudiced.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Anglicans, lay and ordained, our families, friends and congregations, have reacted strongly. People are angry for a number of reasons. Many of you will understand why.
People are angry because of the effect this has had on Jeremy and in particular the loss of the new post to which he had been appointed. The way Jeremy has been treated is leading to increased despair and depression among LGBTI clergy.
Division in the House of Bishops
The internal divisions in the House of Bishops are becoming more obvious as a result of the difference in the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton by the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham compared with his treatment by the Bishop of Lincoln and by Andrew Foreshew-Cain’s treatment by the Bishop of Edmonton.
We know from conversations with a number of bishops that some will either take no action against gay priests who marry or will impose the lightest of penalties following the example of +Lincoln and +Edmonton.
Other bishops will impose a harsh penalty by refusing to grant or withdrawing a license or PTO.
The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.
People see a House of Bishops in which the divisions over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious.
The effect on LGBTI Anglicans
People in Changing Attitude England’s networks are deeply disappointed by the failure of the bishops known to be supportive of lesbian and gay clergy and relationships to express their support more clearly and strongly.
The divergence of practice has several effects:
There are other reasons for the anger people feel:
Despite what has been said above, more lesbian and gay clergy are planning to marry or to convert their civil partnership to marriage from December onwards.
The House of Bishops need to review the Pastoral Guidance document urgently to achieve justice and coherence.
You need to respond to the anger and frustration being felt by LGBTI laity and clergy. The temperature is rising and people are calling for urgent action. We are not prepared to wait for the conclusion of the mutual conversations for the changes which have already occurred to be approved by the House of Bishops.
The Reverend Colin Coward MBE
and the Trustees of Changing Attitude England