Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dean of Wells: John Harverd Davies

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Wells: John Harverd Davies

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 23 August 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend John Harverd Davies to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Wells.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend John Harverd Davies, MA, MPhil, PhD, Dean of Derby, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Wells, on the resignation of the Very Reverend John Martin Clarke, BD, MA, on his resignation of 31 December 2015.

Notes for Editors

The Very Reverend Dr John Davies (aged 58) studied at Keble College, Oxford and then at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for his MPhil, before doing his Doctorate at Lancaster University.

He studied for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. His first curacy was at Liverpool Parish Church, from 1984 to 1987 and he then moved to Peterborough Parish Church, from 1987 to 1990 and was also Minor Canon at Peterborough Cathedral from 1988 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1994 he was Vicar at St Margaret, Anfield in Liverpool diocese, before taking up the post in 1994 as Chaplain, Fellow and Director of Studies in Theology at Keble College, Oxford where he was until 1999. From 1999 to 2010 he was Vicar of Melbourne, in Derby diocese whilst also serving as Diocesan Director of Ordinands. From 2007 to 2010 he was also Priest-in- Charge of Ticknall, Smisby and Stanton by Bridge in Derby diocese. Since 2010 he has been Dean of Derby.

His interests include foreign travel, hospitality and walking.

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Renewal and Reform under the spotlight

Updated yet again Thursday evening

Today’s Observer newspaper has two pieces by Harriet Sherwood dealing with the Church of England.

As traditional believers turn away, is this a new crisis of faith?
Modern churches are driving up numbers among the young, but critics say their direct and emotional style of worship risks alienating mainstream Christians

…Ric Thorpe said: “What’s changed is that [the church] is now saying, we want this money to go towards growth – which, when it’s in decline, is a wise investment. In this new thinking, you’ve got to demonstrate that you’ve got a plan, that you’re putting [funding] to good use, that it’s not going to something that’s dying. There’s an urgency about this.”

He says small rural churches have a higher number of clergy per capita than dense, urban parishes. “Where the population is denser, there are fewer clergy around to reach those people. If we are an outward-facing church we need to position people where they’re most needed: 83% of people live in urban areas, but 83% of [church] finance doesn’t go there. But it should.”

The church, he said, needed to help some rural parishes “face reality”. Some of those parishes, historically the backbone of the Anglican church, are wincing in pain. Another key plank of the Renewal and Reform programme is the goal of recruiting 6,000 priests over the next 15 years, to be “the leadership of the church in the 2030s, 40s and 50s”, says the church’s secretary general, William Nye…

and

Top cleric says Church of England risks becoming a ‘suburban sect’.
The cleric in question is Martyn Percy and there are extensive quotes from the afterword to his forthcoming book, The Future Shapes of Anglicanism.

According to Percy, the strategy is fundamentally flawed. “It will take more to save the Church of England than a blend of the latest management theory, secular sorcery with statistics and evangelical up-speak,” he writes.

A cure for the ailing church “would require a much deeper ecclesial comprehension than the present leadership currently exhibit … There seems to be no sagacity, serious science or spiritual substance to the curatives being offered.”

Rather, he says, the church “is being slowly kettled into becoming a suburban sect, corralling its congregations, controlling its clergy and centralising its communication. Instead of being a local, dispersed, national institution, it is becoming a bureaucratic organisation, managing its ministry and mission – in a manner that is hierarchically scripted.”

Updates

Three (so far) blog articles have already appeared in response to these newspaper stories:

Gary Waddington Mission or Managerialism

Eddie Green Crisis in the Church?

Ian Paul Does growth need management

And now a fourth: Richard Peers Holiness and Management

Two more articles:

Archbishop Cranmer The great canon doctor Martyn Percy implicates Justin Welby in “secular sorcery”

Wealands Bell Shiny Church or Soggy Church? Each has its place

And another two:

Andrew Lightbown Relaxed about R & R

Catholicity and covenant Renewal and reform, c.1099

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Friday, 12 August 2016

72 synod members write to the bishops

34 clergy and 38 lay members of the General Synod, coming from 33 dioceses, have written an open letter which has been published in the Church of England Newspaper.

The full text and list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The existence of the letter is also reported in the Church Times but this article is behind the paywall.

The Church of England Newspaper report includes additional comments from two of the signatories, and also from one other (anonymous) synod member who said:

“This letter shows the complete blindness there appears to be amongst some to see the absurdity of their position. The Church cannot hope to give a welcome that has any truth, love or integrity if it does not fully embrace LGBTI Christians as equal members of the Body of Christ.

“To threaten fracture and state that ‘no proposals be considered’ is highly manipulative and unChristian. Surely our faith commands us to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying and to remain open to revelation?

“To seek to close down a discussion before it even starts shows the rigidity of a fundamentalist approach to religion, which is based on fear rather than faith. God is big enough, his arms wide enough and His truth strong enough to withstand any debate”.

Open Letter to the College and House of Bishops

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Now that the process of Shared Conversations launched subsequent to the Pilling Report has been completed and the ‘baton’ passed to the College and House of Bishops, we are writing to assure you of our prayers as you meet this autumn to discern the way forward. As members of General Synod we wish to offer the following reflections which we hope and pray might help your deliberation and discernment.

We are grateful for the opportunity that was recently given to the General Synod to engage in a consideration of Scripture. However, we believe this was of an initial nature only, and that much more biblical study is needed before we will be able, as a Synod, to make theologically informed decisions about human anthropology and sexuality. In particular we believe it is essential to clarify what it means to ‘honour God with your bodies’ (1 Corinthians 6:20, NIV) so that we do not find ourselves praying for God’s blessing on that which is contrary to his will.

We are committed to building a church that is genuinely welcoming to all people, irrespective of the pattern of sexual attraction that they experience. We would welcome initiatives to help local churches do this in a way that is affirming of and consistent with Scripture, and would hope to support suggestions you might wish to bring to Synod to that effect.

As you prepare to meet in the College and House of Bishops, we urge you not to consider any proposals that fly in the face of the historic understanding of the church as expressed in ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ (1991) and Lambeth Resolution 1.10. To do so – however loud the apparent voice for change – could set the Church of England adrift from her apostolic inheritance. It would also undermine our ability as members of General Synod to offer support and lead to a fracture within both the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion.

We thank God for you and, remembering the apostle James’s injunction to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), we commit ourselves to asking God to grant you his wisdom as you endeavour to offer episcopal leadership to the Church of England at this time.

Signed by the following General Synod members (Diocese):

The Rev Canon Jonathan Alderton-Ford (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
The Rev Sam Allberry (Oxford)
The Rev Dr Andrew Atherstone (Oxford)
The Rev Andrew Attwood (Coventry)
Mrs Emily Bagg (Portsmouth)
The Rev Canon David Banting (Chelmsford)
Dr William Belcher (Gloucester)
Mrs Rachel Bell (Derby)
Dr Andrew Bell (Oxford)
Mrs Liz Bird (Hereford)
Mr Peter Boyd-Lee (Salisbury)
The Revd Peter Breckwoldt (Salisbury)
Mr James Cary (Bath & Wells)
Mr Graham Caskie (Oxford)
The Rev Preb Simon Cawdell (Hereford)
The Rev John Chitham (Chichester)
The Rev Canon Jonathan Clark (Leeds)
The Rev Canon Charlie Cleverley (Oxford)
Dr Simon Clift (Winchester)
Mrs Ann Colton (Chelmsford)
The Rev Canon Andrew Cornes (Chichester)
Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
The Rev Barney de Berry (Canterbury)
Mrs Gill de Berry (Salisbury)
Brigadier Ian Dobbie (Rochester)
The Rev Dr Sean Doherty (London)
The Rev James Dudley-Smith (Bath & Wells)
The Rev John Dunnett (Chelmsford)
Mrs Mary Durlacher (Chelmsford)
Mr Carl Fender (Lincoln)
Miss Emma Forward (Exeter)
Mrs Chris Fry (Winchester)
The Rev Canon Sally Gaze (Norwich)
Mr Chris Gill (Lichfield)
The Rev Graham Hamilton (Exeter)
Mr Jeremy Harris (Chester)
The Ven Simon Heathfield (Birmingham)
Mr Carl Hughes (Southwark)
The Rev Canon Gary Jenkins (Southwark)
Mrs Carolyn Johnson (Blackburn)
The Rev Peter Kay (St Albans)
Mrs Helen Lamb (Ely)
Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
Capt Nicholas Lebey (Southwark)
Mr James Lee (Guildford)
The Rev Mark Lucas (Peterborough)
Mrs Rosemary Lyon (Blackburn)
The Rev Angus MacLeay (Rochester)
Mr Sam Margrave (Coventry)
The Rev Alistair McHaffie (Blackburn)
The Rev Shaun Morris (Lichfield)
The Rev Dr Rob Munro (Chester)
Miss Margaret Parrett (Manchester)
Miss Jane Patterson (Sheffield)
The Rev Dr Ian Paul (Southwell & Nottingham)
Mrs Kathy Playle (Chelmsford)
The Rev Dr Philip Plyming (Guildford)
Mr Andrew Presland (Peterborough)
The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich)
The Rev Dr Jason Roach (London)
The Rev Dr Ben Sargent (Winchester)
Mr Clive Scowen (London)
Mr Ed Shaw (Bristol)
The Rev Charlie Skrine (London)
Mr Colin Slater (Southwell & Nottingham)
Dr Chik Tan (Lichfield)
The Rev Martyn Taylor (Lincoln)
The Rev Chris Tebbutt (Salisbury)
Mr Jacob Vince (Chichester)
Dr Yvonne Warren (Coventry)
The Rev Canon Giles Williams (Europe)
Mr Brian Wilson (Southwark)

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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace

Updated

I linked (in the Opinion columns on 23 and 30 July) to articles about the objections that have been voiced during recent consecrations of female bishops. These articles were in response to a press release from WATCH objecting to the facilitation of these objections. WATCH has today issued this press release:

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace
August 9th, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury has informed us that conversations are in progress with the relevant people so that, in future, objections such as that at Canterbury Cathedral in June will not be allowed.

Thank you to those who have written in support of our statement.

Update

Mark Woods Christian Today Justin Welby: We’ll stop protests at consecration of women bishops

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Advisor for Reconciliation
Wednesday 27th July 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of Sarah Snyder as his new Advisor for Reconciliation.

She takes over from Canon David Porter who moved into his new role as Chief of Staff and Strategy to the Archbishop at the beginning of May.

Sarah will take up the role in September. She will be part of the senior team at Lambeth Palace while also being based at Coventry Cathedral, where Archbishop Justin’s Reconciliation Ministry has been established since its inception. Her role will have a particular emphasis on supporting the Church in contexts of violent conflict or post-conflict and helping the Church to be an agent of reconciliation and conflict-transformation.

[continued below the fold]

A theologian who specialises in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, Sarah brings wide-ranging international experience of peace-building and dialogue. She has worked for many years to promote faith-based reconciliation, most recently as Director of Partnerships with Religions for Peace International, an organisation affiliated to the United Nations. Sarah has also directed the Cambridge International Summer Schools for faith leaders from conflict zones. A trained mediator, she has experience both of working with communities and with senior religious leaders.

Sarah is Founding Director of the Rose Castle Foundation, an international centre of reconciliation, based in the north of England, offering safe space in which to address misunderstanding of the “other”, particularly those of different religious traditions. Located in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, it is a peaceful haven in which to transform conflict within and between faith communities, and to train up a generation of leaders equipped as faith-based mediators. It is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, and Professor David Ford, and welcomes people of all faith traditions and none.

Sarah also collaborates with St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in the City of London, supporting individuals and communities to work together despite their differences and divisions. St Ethelburga’s is situated in a church destroyed by a bomb in 1993, and is itself a powerful symbol of hope in the midst of conflict.

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin said:

“I am delighted that Sarah Snyder will be my Advisor for Reconciliation. Sarah brings a wealth of experience and many gifts to the role which will enrich both her reconciliation work and the senior team at Lambeth Palace. I am also grateful for the continued partnership with Coventry Cathedral where my reconciliation ministry will continue to be based. Events in recent weeks remind us that that reconciliation is more of a priority than ever – this is the hope we offer in the good news of Jesus.”

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Bishops accused of failing to act on safeguarding complaints

Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian has a report concerning safeguarding in the Diocese of Sheffield:

Senior Anglican clergy accused of failing to act on rape allegations

The archbishop of York and four serving bishops have been accused of misconduct by a Church of England priest who claims they failed to act on allegations he was repeatedly raped by another vicar when he was 16.

The priest says none of the five senior clergy properly responded to his disclosures, made verbally and in writing, of the rapes which he alleged took place in 1984.

“Michael” – whose identity is known to the Guardian, but who wishes to remain anonymous – filed the complaints under the C of E’s clergy disciplinary measure (CDM) against John Sentamu, the archbishop of York and second highest-ranking figure in the church; Peter Burrows, the bishop of Doncaster; Steven Croft, a former bishop of Sheffield, and now bishop of Oxford; Martyn Snow, the bishop of Leicester; and Glyn Webster, the bishop of Beverley.

All five have contested the complaints because they were made after the church’s required one-year limit.

Spokespersons for Sentamu and the four bishops said they could not comment on a matter that was the subject of an internal church process and a police investigation…

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Next Bishop of Tewkesbury to be Robert Springett

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury: Robert Wilfrid Springett
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 25 July 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Robert Wilfrid Springett, BTh, MA, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, in the Diocese of Gloucester, to the Suffragan See of Tewkesbury, in the Diocese of Gloucester in succession to the Right Reverend Martyn James Snow, BSc, on his translation to the See of Leicester resignation on the 22 February 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Robert Springett (aged 53), studied at Nottingham University for his BTh, and then at London University for his MA. He trained for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College. He served first as curate at Colchester in Chelmsford diocese from 1989 to 1992 before moving to be curate at Basildon from 1992 to 1994. From 1994 to 2001 he was Priest in Charge at Belhus Park and South Ockendon. He was Rural Dean at Thurrock from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he was Rector at Wanstead in Chelmsford diocese and was Area Dean of Redbridge from 2008 to 2010 and Honorary Canon at Chelmsford Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Archdeacon of Cheltenham.

Robert has also held a wider role locally and nationally over the past six years. Locally these include being the Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, a Trustee of All Saints Academy and a member of the Council of the University of Gloucester. Nationally Robert is a Bishop’s Advisor for the Church on the selection of men and women for ordination and a member of the National Archdeacons Forum.

Robert is married to Helen, who is a primary head teacher and they have two daughters, Charlotte aged 22 and Alice aged 17.

His interests include the churches ministry in education and wider relationships within the Anglican community.

Announcement from the Diocese of Gloucester

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Bishop of Sodor and Man to retire

Robert Paterson, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, has announced that he will retire on 11 November 2016: Bishop Robert announces his retirement.

BBC News Bishop of Sodor and Man Robert Paterson to retire

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 July 2016 at 6:04pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

32 evangelicals lack confidence in shared conversations process

32 members of the General Synod have signed a statement which has been published on the Anglican Mainstream website. The full text of the statement and the list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The matter has been reported in Christian Today by Harry Farley. His story is headlined Divisions deepen in Church of England as conservatives express ‘lack of confidence’ in gay marriage talks.

He notes that Lambeth Palace has declined to comment on the statement.

It was also reported in Anglican Ink by George Conger who noted that the 32 were “members of the 1990 Group on General Synod” and that the statement has been sent in a letter to the College of Bishops. His article is headlined General Synod shared sex conversations place unity above truth, critics charge.

“We, the undersigned members of the General Synod, wish to express our lack of confidence in the process of the Shared Conversations. Whatever their stated purposes, the outcome has not led to a greater confidence that the Church will be guided by the authoritative voice of the Scriptures, and its decisive shaping of traditional Anglican teaching, in any forthcoming discussions.”

Rosemary Lyon – Blackburn
Stephen Boyall – Blackburn
Kathy Playle – Chelmsford
Mary Durlacher – Chelmsford
David Banting – Chelmsford
Debbie Woods – Chester
Jeremy Harris – Chester
Lorna Ashworth – Chichester
Andrea Minichiello Williams – Chichester
Rachel Bell – Derby
Giles Williams – Europe
Helen Lamb – Ely
William Belcher – Gloucester
Chik Kaw Tan – Lichfield
Shaun Morris – Lichfield
Chris Gill – Lichfield
Debbie Buggs – London
Sarah Finch – London
Clive Scowen – London
Charlie Skrine -London
Margaret Parrett – Manchester
Caroline Herbert – Norwich
Graham Caskie – Oxford
Andrew Bell – Oxford
Andrew Presland – Peterborough
Mark Lucas – Peterborough
Ian Dobbie – Rochester
Angus MacLeay – Rochester
Jane Patterson -Sheffield
Brian Wilson – Southwark
Susie Leafe – Truro
Chris Fry – Winchester

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Bishop of London to retire

The diocese of London has announced that Dr Richard Chartres is to retire as Bishop of London on Tuesday 28 February 2017. The Bishop writes:

After consultation with the Archbishop I am writing to let you know about the timetable for my retirement. It is business as usual until Christmas, after which I shall hope to clear my desk of more than twenty years’ worth of accumulated debris. The intention is that my last public engagement as Bishop of London will be in the Cathedral at Candlemas, February 2nd 2017, the day when Simeon was granted a vision of Christ in the Temple and prayed “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.” My formal resignation will be dated from the end of the month on Shrove Tuesday.

Her Majesty the Queen has graciously indicated that I should remain as Dean of HM Chapels Royal until the appointment of the 133rd Bishop of London.

Read the press release here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 19 July 2016 at 11:42am BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 July 2016

Reflections on the Shared Conversations

A number of people have commented on the Shared Conversations that formed part of the July General Synod at York.

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod members thanked for staying on to talk about differences

Mark Woods Christian Today Shared Conversations: Why the Church of England still has a long way to go on sexuality

Lucy Gorman Shared thoughts from the Shared Conversations.

Andrew Dotchin Thoughts on A Shared Conversation:

Ian Paul Synod’s Shared Conversations

Andrea Williams Christian Concern responds to C of E ‘shared conversation’

Stephen Lynas She said “You don’t understand what I said” *

Gary Waddington SHARED CONVERSATIONS AND THE EVANGELICAL ASCENDANCY: AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS?

Hannah Cleugh Sharing in Conversations

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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Further points on the George Bell case

Updated Thursday evening

We reported in March that the George Bell Group had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The challenge was in a report published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Yesterday, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, Church of England lead bishop on safeguarding, issued this letter to the George Bell Group: Further points on the George Bell case.

Update

Several questions were asked at General Synod on Friday 8 July relating to the George Bell case. The questions and answers are printed in this booklet, but for convenience they are copied below the fold. In addition I have transcribed the supplementary questions and answers from this recording; they are shown indented.

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Church Commissioners:
Q17 It is understood that the Church Commissioners paid, or contributed to, the £15,000 paid in settlement of a civil claim regarding alleged sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. Will the Church Commissioners please (i) confirm the accuracy of this information and, if others (whether insurers, the Diocese of Chichester or any other accountable Church institution) contributed to the settlement, state the amount(s) of their respective contributions, and (ii) state whether, in addition, the Church Commissioners made any, and if so what, financial contribution to (a) the complainant’s legal costs (including any success fee) and expenses, and/or (b) the costs and expenses (including the fees of experts) of the Diocese of Chichester incurred in relation to the said claim.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith to reply as First Church Estates Commissioner:
A The Commissioners contributed to the settlement of the claim, but did not pay the whole. The damages paid were £16,800 and the claimant’s legal costs were £15,000. In addition, the Diocese of Chichester’s costs were £18,000. These figures include the costs of a medical expert instructed by the claimant and another instructed by the Diocese of Chichester. The Commissioners paid £29,800 towards the damages and costs, with the balance being funded by a donation from a private individual, not an insurer or another Church institution.

David Lamming: I thank Sir Andreas for his answer and for the additional information given. But in the light of the answer will you say whether insurers were asked to contribute to the settlement and if so whether they declined to do so, who in fact was the putative defendant on whose behalf the settlement was reached with the claimant, and I am assuming that court proceedings were not issued, and will you please state the particular speciality of the medical experts instructed respectively by the claimants and by the diocese of Chichester.

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: Thank you. You are accrediting the Church Commissioners with far more involvement in this case than you might think. We have a discretion to pay bishops’ costs as you will probably know and we make judgments on what costs to bear depending on a variety of factors. In this case the answers are really clear in my answer; I don’t think I can add to them. There are the damages, there are the claimant’s legal costs, and there are the diocese of Chichester’s costs and we paid £29,800 of those and a private individual came forward, not an insurer, and paid the rest. I can’t add to that.

Martin Sewell (Rochester): There’s a very simple question on the table: Did any insurer decline to indemnify?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I’ve no idea whether an insurer was involved. We were not told about such a case.

Martin Sewell: Who would know if an insurer …

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: The diocese of Chichester would know.

Martin Sewell: Will that information be made available?

Sir Andreas Whittam Smith: I cannot speak for the diocese of Chichester, I’m afraid.

Mr Martin Sewell (Rochester) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q32 The Chichester Diocese publishes on its website a comprehensive 54 page report by Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss into its handling of the cases of sexual predators Roy Cotton and Colin Pritchard; that report balances victim confidentiality with the public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. Given the continuing public concern at the handling of the case of Bishop Bell, will the Church now issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case but not the other?

Mr David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q33 In answer to a question from Miss Prudence Dailey (Q.13) at the February 2016 Group of Sessions concerning the response of the Church to allegations made against the late Bishop George Bell, the Bishop of Durham stated that it was “legally impermissible for the Church to disclose any evidence used in the settlement [of the claim against the Diocese of Chichester]” and that the law “rightly affords [the complainant] protection to safeguard the confidentiality of their deeply personal information.” In the light of
i. The call by the George Bell Group [1] for a proper review of both the process and the evidence that resulted in the statement issued by the Church of England media centre on 22 October 2015 effectively branding Bishop Bell as a paedophile;
ii. The Opinion by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC and Desmond Browne QC [2] that there are no legal constraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents (suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity) that the Church considered before settling the claim; and iii. The fact that Dame Lowell Goddard has stated that “Bell’s guilt or innocence is not a critical aspect of this Inquiry, or of the Anglican investigation, or of the investigation’s case studies,” [3 and 3] so that any reliance by the Church that the Goddard Inquiry will investigate this issue is misplaced;
Will the House of Bishops now commission an independent inquiry as called for by the George Bell Group and, if not, why not?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A I will take Questions 32 and 33 together. I refer both questioners to the statement issued by the Church of England on 28 June in which it was announced that an independent review of the handling of the George Bell case would be launched shortly. The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learnt to improve safeguarding practice in the future. It will be for the independent reviewer to consider what evidence they deem to be relevant and publish in due course their view of any lessons learned from the Church’s handling of the case.
It should be noted that the Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to those who make allegations of abuse.

David Lamming: I thank the Bishop of Durham for his answer and for the announcement, post the date for submitting questions, that there is to be an independent review, not just a review by the Core Group. However the review announced on the 28th June is only into the processes used to inform the decision to settle the claim by the woman know as Carol, but the review will not be credible unless it examines all the evidence, and in the House of Bishops [sic] the 30th June the Bishop of Chelmsford said “The Church remains satisfied of the credibility of Carol’s allegation.” Will the Bishop, and perhaps on behalf of his successor, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, please now acknowledge that the terms of reference of the review must enable the reviewer both to review the process and to look at all the evidence including that that was not looked at by the Core Group.

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that supplementary. The independent reviewer has yet to be appointed, the terms of reference will have to be agreed with that independent reviewer, and it is that this will be around the process that was followed, and when that reviewer is there then that’s what they will be briefed to do.

Martin Sewell: You’ve answered two questions together. I’m going to have to refer. I refer first of all to Alan Pardoe’s opinion and Desmond Brown’s opinion, there are no legal restraints to disclosure of the evidence and documents suitably redacted to preserve the complainant’s anonymity. I refer back to comparing the Bell case to the Cotton and Pritchard case saying that in the one case that is already out there on the Chichester website it balances victim confidentiality with public interest in having confidence in due and proper process. So I then ask why does it apply to one case and not the other? It’s a very simple question. You tell us that there’s going to be a review. We don’t need to know if the review knows how to do this. We need to know if there is a core competence in the Church’s people to do this sort of thing and to understand the law on confidentiality and how it applies in each and every case. We can’t assume that tht competence is there because we’ve not seen it demonstrated.

Chair: Do you want to put that into a question then please?

Martin Sewell: Yes, it’s very simple. Will you issue a comprehensive explanation of why transparency can apply in one case, that’s Cotton and Pritchard, and not in the other, Bishop Bell. It’s a very simple question.

Bishop of Durham: The simple reality is you may quote two lawyers and I could quote others, which I won’t, who would disagree with that opinion. The review will take place and there is not an exact equivalence between the Butler-Sloss report and how the Bell case was handled and the report that has come out.

Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops:
Q36 In the light of the Bishop Bell case, has any consideration been given to the view that offering pastoral support to the complainant, independently investigating the complaint, dispassionately evaluating the evidence, and simultaneously managing crises whilst protecting the good name of the Church are incompatible objectives; and will consideration now be given to establishing a properly resourced, consistent, professional and independent central complaint handling body, removing the responsibility from dioceses with potentially variable expertise and processes?

The Bishop of Durham to reply as Lead Bishop for Safeguarding:
A Developing a more consistent and professional approach to safeguarding across the dioceses and nationally is one of our key priorities as a church, recognising of course that good safeguarding is fundamentally something that takes place in a parish context. There are a number of key elements to achieving this through national policy and guidance, regulations, training and quality assurance, including the independent audits being conducted across all dioceses during 2016 and 2017. These audits provide an important benchmark and areas for further improvement for dioceses and the national church. The intention to develop a standards based approach will include how we provide pastoral and other support to those who are accused as well as those who make complaints of abuse. Indeed a recent case review conducted by the National Safeguarding Team has highlighted this very issue. The Church of England must remain committed to responding to non-current abuse and abuse in the present day, as well as building a safer church for the future based on prevention.

Prudence Dailey: Has any consideration been given to the potential for conflict of interest in the Church carrying out the various different functions alluded to in my question in relation to the Bishop Bell case?

Bishop of Durham: Quite specifically in all these the history of conflict of interest is always taken into consideration. Every core group has to work at that particular bit on every example that we have.

Simon Butler (Southwark): In view of the fact that many of the allegations are made against clergy, will the bishop, or his successor, consult with the House of Clergy Standing Committee about procedures for putting in place future support and the work around those who have been accused of abuse?

Bishop of Durham: Thank you for that question. One of the areas that has caused some concern is the level of support for clergy when they face allegations and that is firmly on the agenda to seek to make sure that they are given adequate pastoral support when going through such processes because they are deeply painful and difficult.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

LGBTI Mission responds to shared conversations

This press release was issued yesterday by LGBTI Mission:

LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion (see text below) awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.

An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation (see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118) to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process

Press release from the Church of England:

Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016

Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.

Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.

In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.

That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.

Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Sexuality news and comment

While the General Synod conversations are proceeding behind closed doors, a chance to catch up on various recent items of news and comment…

Harry Farley ChristianToday No compromise: Die-hard conservatives walk out of Anglican talks on gay relationships

Harriet Sherwood reported in the Guardian that C of E hardliners to boycott synod talks on same-sex relationships.

Andrew Lightbown Julian Henderson and ‘the case for a conservative approach.’
The Church Times article being critiqued is here, but behind the paywall. However, there is another article in the comment section this week which is available: ‘I’d love the consensus to change, but it’s a dream’.

Lucy Gorman just retired as chair of Changing Attitude wrote Going anywhere nice?

Tracey Byrne of LGCM has published URC Assembly and General Synod - thanksgiving and hope.

Andrew Nunn published Prorogued but not ended.

Meanwhile, over at the Canadian General Synod (and yes, we will report on this later) the Secretary-General has been speaking: Sexuality not just an issue in the West, says Idowu-Fearon
The full text of his address is here.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

General Synod - Saturday's business

Updated Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England continued today.

The order paper for the morning and afternoon is here Order paper II. Not included is item 10 (Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders) that was not taken on Friday because of lack of time but for which time became available at the end of the afternoon.
Order paper for the evening session: Order Paper III

The morning, and part of the afternoon, was devoted to legislation.

One later item in the afternoon was about education, and was followed by this official press release: Bold vision for education launched at General Synod.

Official brief summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Saturday

Update

Jonathan Petre Mail on Sunday Green light for vicars in jeans as Synod decides clergy’s robes are surplice to requirements

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Handbags and gladrags.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England is bidding to open scores of free schools

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England plans to open 125 faith schools using Government’s free schools programme in next four years

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WATCH calls for Gender Justice in the Church of England

Press Release from WATCH

WATCH Launches “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at General Synod

Women and the Church (WATCH) launched “A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England” at a joint fringe event at the July General Synod including 10 specific commitments.

Synod members heard from Christian Aid, USPG and the Mothers’ Union how gender justice has come to form a crucial element of their international development work. They also heard that the Anglican Communion has now signed up to the global ‘Side by Side’ movement for gender justice. So that this can be put into action locally, WATCH has prepared a ‘Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England’ which it will be asking the church to adopt.

Speaking at the launch, Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said, “whilst some progress had been made in gender justice in recent years, most notably Women Bishops, now is the time for the Church of England to embody and promote gender justice both in its internal structures and in its external engagement with the world”.

As a next step following the pattern of our sister churches, the Church in Wales (2008) and the Scottish Episcopal Church (2009), WATCH recommends that the following Synod motion be proposed:

That this Synod, affirming its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, invites the undertaking of a Gender Audit at every level of the Church of England in time to report back to the General Synod in 2019

More information is contained in this document: A Gender Justice Policy for the Church of England.

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Friday, 8 July 2016

General Synod - Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning to add more press reports, and on Sunday

The July 2016 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England has opened.

There is a live video stream here.

The agenda and other papers are available here.

Order Paper I listing all the day’s business. Synod agreed to vary the order of business after item 6 to that on page 4.

Scroll down for press reports.

As announced last week, the Archbishops have added a motion on the EU Referendum, which will be debated this afternoon. The text of the motion is:

The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task.

One amendement to the motion was carried so that it became:

That this Synod, recognising the result of the recent referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union:
a) welcome the Archbishops’ call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world, and encourage all members of the Church of England to play their part actively in partnership with everyone in Civil Society in pursuit of this task; and
b) commend the work already carried out by the Church in bringing communities together and recommend that as a minimum every bishop identify a champion in their diocese to assess what more the Church could do and to make recommendations for creating stronger and more constructive links between local communities as a basis for achieving this common task.

in which form it was clearly carried on a show of hands.

There’s an official press release: Synod approves motion to build a ‘generous and forward looking country’ in the aftermath of the EU Referendum, and texts of the speeches by the two archbishops: Canterbury and York.

Questions were taken after dinner. The booklet of questions and answers, issued in advance, is here. The Synod session only dealt with supplementary questions and answers.

Audio recordings of the day’s debates are made available here, and (the questions session) here.

There is a brief official summary of the day’s business: General Synod July 2016 sessions: Friday

Press reports

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams and Tim Wyatt Church Times Look forward with generosity, Synod urges a divided nation

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Christians urged to “build generous forward looking country”

Harry Farley Christian Today General Synod: Church of England opts to ‘recognise’ EU referendum result despite opposition

John Bingham The Telegraph
Church of England vicar says Brexit vote is not just a cry of ‘incoherent rage’

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘Lasses’ jobs’ replacing industry led to Brexit vote, says clergyman

Tom Richmond Yorkshire Post Archbishop of York calls upon post-Brexit Britain to evoke spirit of Nelson Mandela

Sunday update

Stephen Lynas reviews the day’s business: Time is tight.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

Updated

Comment and news looking ahead to this weekend’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod

Philip Jones Ecclesiastical Law The Burden of Legislative Reform

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Battle looms in Church of England over ‘blessings’ for gay marriage

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England bans mankinis in the pulpit

Updates

Harry Farley Christian Today Shared Conversations: Can the Church of England prevent a split over gay marriage?

David Walker ViaMedia.News Bishop’s Packing Essentials for General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Apart from a big fight over homosexuality, what else is happening at General Synod?

Archbishop Cranmer Synod ‘No Confidence’ motion looms in secret trial of Bishop George Bell (RIP)

Stephen Lynas The weekend starts here

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Reflecting on the outcome of the EU Referendum

Updated again Monday afternoon

Following the initial flurry of statements from bishops, there have been several more reflective articles published by various people writing from a Christian perspective.

Anna Rowlands wrote The Fragility of Goodness: Brexit Viewed from the North East.

Nick Holtam wrote this on the Referendum Result.

Luke Bretherton wrote Brexit as Theodicy and Idolatry.

Angus Ritchie had Brexit: How can we reflect and respond?

Philip North has this in today’s Church Times: Northern foodbank Britain finds its voice

There is a lot more material in this week’s Church Times but it is behind the paywall. However, Andrew Lightbown discusses some of the points raised in his blog, entitled Bishop David Walker or Richard Lewis? Who is correct?

Michael Sadgrove has Brexit: An Open Letter to the Archbishops of the Church of England.

Earlier he had also written Brexit: how to go positively into exile and On Saying Farewell to the EU: the morning after.

Brian Castle wrote Brexit - Now is not the time for Reconciliation.

Updates

Martyn Percy has written a major essay which is summarised here: After Brexit - Can we find a broad and middle way? Senior cleric calls for new social-progressive political party and the full essay can be read by following that link.

Tanya Marlow has written Brexit, hate crime, fear: what’s the Christian response?

Bishops of the Lincoln diocese The EU Referendum: responding to the vote to leave

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Thursday, 30 June 2016

EU Referendum and General Synod

The Church of England issued this press release this afternoon.

Addition to General Synod agenda
30 June 2016

Following the result of the EU Referendum on 23 June, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have exercised their powers under the General Synod’s Standing Orders to make some time available at its brief Group of Sessions in July for a debate on a motion endorsing the Archbishops’ recent call for all to unite in the common task of building a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.

The debate will take place on the afternoon of Friday 8 July.

The wording of the motion will be made available to Synod members early next week.

The current Synod programme for Friday afternoon can be seen here. The Archbishops’ statement, referred to in the press release, is here.

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Still more documents for the Shared Conversations

Two more documents need to be added to the list of items that relate to the Shared Conversations that have been mentioned here previously, see here and here.

First there is the St Michael’s House Protocols (not a new document).

Second, there is this new Frequently Asked Questions document. This is copied below the fold.

General Synod Shared Conversation – FAQs

1. What should I bring for the Shared Conversation at General Synod?

It is important that you bring with you the programme for the two days and your copy of the St Michael’s House Protocols. It would also be helpful to bring a Bible, a notebook and a pen.

2. Can I use social media during the Shared Conversation?

The St Michael’s House Protocols (which underpin the Shared Conversation) highlight the importance of creating a private space in which all feel welcome and respected and in which those taking part commit to becoming mutual and interdependent participants for the duration of the process. In order for this to be possible, it is essential that all participants are fully present – physically, mentally and emotionally – in the process. It is also important that only thosen who have committed to working within the guidelines of the St Michael’s House Protocols are part of the Shared Conversation while it is taking place. As such, the Shared Conversation will be private sessions of synod, with no fringe meetings, media presence or live streaming. For the same reason, participants are asked to refrain from using any form of social media throughout the two days and are requested not to communicate information about the Conversation by text, email or phone while the Conversation is going on. Participants are encouraged to take notes of anything you would like to remember from the Shared Conversation, but to do this in writing and not by taking photographs. You are also encouraged to share any learning that you have acquired from the process after it is over. Any reflections on the Shared Conversations after they have finished must, of course, adhere to the St Michael’s House Protocols. In
practical terms, this involves:

  • Speaking for yourself only and not for others
  • Ensuring that your descriptions honour the confidentiality of the conversation by avoiding any information which might disclose the
  • Not using any information about another participant to that person’s disadvantage
  • Not attributing words or actions to any individual

3. What should I wear for the Shared Conversations?

All participants are encouraged to wear casual, comfortable clothes. We have found in the Regional Shared Conversations that both clergy and lay participants found it helpful for clergy not to wear clerical dress, if possible.

4. Will I be in the same group for the whole process?

Yes, you will be with the same facilitator and the same group of around 20 participants for the duration of the Shared Conversation. Sometimes you will work in smaller sub-sets within that group.

5. Do I need to go to every session?

Yes. At the heart of the Shared Conversation is a commitment made by each participant to their fellow participants in the process. This implies a commitment to engage fully with all of the sessions. The Shared Conversation has been carefully designed from start to finish and its benefits, for both individuals and the whole of synod, will be greatly reduced if participants miss sessions.

6. Do we get some time off during the Shared Conversation?

The Shared Conversation is, by its very nature, an intense process, so time for rest and reflection is essential. Participants have free time after dinner on both evenings, as well as an extended lunch break of two hours on Monday. There will, of course, also be a tea and coffee break each morning and afternoon.

7. Will I have to talk about my sexuality?

Participants are encouraged to engage with the Shared Conversation as fully as possible but no one will be forced to disclose any personal information of any kind. If talking about human sexuality as part of your personal faith journey is important to you, please do so. But participants should not disclose anything which they feel unsafe to share.

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EGGS publishes resource for shared conversations

The Evangelical Group of the General Synod, EGGS, has issued this document to its members and friends ahead of the shared conversations scheduled to start on 10 July.

As it says:

This resource is offered to EGGS members and friends in order to help us engage in formal/informal discussions which might arise as part of/around the Shared Conversations in York.

The ideas/opinions/statements expressed (in bold) are amongst those that members might hear articulated and which we believe can (and need) to be responded to. The thoughts/responses offered are a resource from the (elected members of) the Committee to help reflection on the likely issues and questions. They do not necessarily reflect the view of all EGGS members or friends.

The document contains 14 questions and suggested answers. Do read it all carefully.

PS at the present time, the website of EGGS appears to be down.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Attendance at the House of Bishops by women

In 2013 the House of Bishops decided to give eight senior women clergy elected regionally (“regional representatives) the right to attend their meetings. The intention at the time was that this arrangement would last until there were six female members of the House.

The House of Bishops has now decided “to give six female Suffragan Bishops rights of attendance at the House, in addition to the female members of the House, replacing the arrangements for the Regional Representatives.” These new arrangements will come into effect from 1st December 2016. [See paragraph 14 of GS Misc 1144.]

The membership of the House of Bishops is

  • all 42 diocesan bishops of the Church of England;
  • the Bishop of Dover;
  • the Bishop to the Forces; and
  • seven suffragan bishops elected from among the total number of suffragan bishops, (four from the Province of Canterbury, and three from the Province of York).

At present there are two female diocesans (Gloucester and Newcastle), and one of the elected suffragans (Stockport) is a woman. There are a further seven female suffragans.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Independent review into handling of George Bell case

Updated to add press reports

The Church of England has today announced an independent review into the handling of the George Bell case, as this press release explains.

Independent review into handling of George Bell case
28 June 2016

An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today in accordance with the House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases.

The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations. A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.

The review will be commissioned by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.

The Church has always recognised Bishop Bell’s principled stand in the Second World War and his contribution to peace but it also has a duty to listen to survivors. The diocese of Chichester continues to be in touch and offer support to the survivor known as Carol, who brought the allegations in this case.

The review will look at the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013. It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of expert independent reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case. The settlement was based on the balance of probabilities as criminal proceedings cannot be brought in a case where the alleged perpetrator is dead.

Details of the review including Terms of Reference and name of the independent reviewer will be announced at a later date.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner said; “As in any serious safeguarding situation it is always important to learn lessons from the process and this review will ensure this is done.

“I have, however, made it absolutely clear that the survivor in the case be reassured that we will do everything we can to continue to support her as we have done throughout this process. Like her, we recognise gravity of this matter, given its impact on the national and international reputation of Bishop George Bell.

“I hope that the review will provide a constructive way forward for all concerned.

Along with my colleagues in the wider Church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty.”

Notes

House of Bishop’s guidance: Responding to Serious Safeguarding Situations

Original statement on George Bell

Points on a complex case; blog by Gabrielle Higgins, Chichester Diocesan Secretary

The George Bell Group recently published this Compendium of Selected Sources covering the period 22 October 2015 - 21 June 2016.

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England orders review into handling of George Bell sex abuse case

BBC News Bishop George Bell: Review to look at ‘abuse’ case

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Friday, 24 June 2016

Church responses to the EU Referendum

Updated Friday evening, Saturday morning, Sunday morning

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a joint statement.

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe has written a message to the diocese, copied below, and has also published this further reflection.

“The UK referendum campaign has been a bruising one, and I hope very much that there will now be a period of reconciliation and healing between those on different sides of the debate.

“The news that a majority of those in the UK wishes to leave the UK does not lessen the fervent desire of the Church of England Diocese in Europe to work co-operatively with our brother and sister Christians in Europe.

“The vote will, however, have particular implications for some members of our diocese. Of course, the vote itself only signals the intent to launch a long process of negotiations with the European Council. It is only as that process gets underway that we will know exactly how UK citizens living in Europe will be affected. Meanwhile, I want to assure our ecumenical partners in Europe of our heartfelt and continuing commitment to them.”

The Suffragan Bishop in Europe has written: We remain a European Church which serves all people. Let us resolve to be even more faithful to this calling.

Updates

Scottish Primus

Archbishop of Dublin and Archbishop of Armagh

Church in Wales bishops

Bishop of Blackburn

Bishop of Coventry

Bishop of Leeds

Bishop of Liverpool

Bishop of London

Bishop of Newcastle

Bishop of Norwich

Bishop of St Albans

Bishop of Sheffield

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Thursday, 23 June 2016

More reading for the Shared Conversations

As if there wasn’t enough material already, there are two large official documents in addition to the two small ones linked in this article.

There is a Faith and Order Commission report GS Misc 1139 Communion and Disagreement.

And there is a supplementary document, linked from the Faith and Order Commission page, and now available over here.

The FAOC page says:

…FAOC’s report on Communion and Disagreement was published in June 2016 and circulated to members of General Synod as a GS Misc, to support the process of shared conversations in the Church of England and the discussion and discernment that continue beyond it. It was approved for publication and commended for study by the House of Bishops…

Members of the drafting group for Communion and Disagreement have also made available five supporting ‘dialogue’ papers. As the Chair of FAOC explains in his Preface to the papers, they are being made available ‘for those who might like to follow up particular aspects of it or find out more about some of the background and related issues. Unlike the report, however, the content of these supporting papers has not been approved by the Commission and does not come with its authority.’

So there you have it. GS Misc 1139 is 41 pages long. The supporting papers document is 80 pages.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 23 June 2016 at 3:43pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: Mark David Ashcroft

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Bolton: Mark David Ashcroft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 22 June 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft as Suffragan See of Bolton in the Diocese of Manchester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Mark David Ashcroft, MA, Archdeacon of Manchester, in the Diocese of Manchester, to the Suffragan See of Bolton, in the Diocese of Manchester in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher Paul Edmondson, MA, on his resignation on the 30 June 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Mark Ashcroft (aged 61), studied at Worcester College, Oxford for his MA, and at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was awarded his BA. He trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served as curate at Burnage in Manchester diocese from 1982 to 1985 before moving to be a tutor at St Paul’s School of Divinity Kapsabet in Kenya from 1986 to 1990, and then Principal from 1990 to 1995. He returned to Manchester in 1996 to be Rector of Christ Church, Harpurhey till 2009. He was Area Dean of North Manchester from 2000 to 2006. He was also Honorary Canon at Manchester Cathedral from 2004 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Archdeacon of Manchester and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral.

Mark Ashcroft is married to Sally and they have 3 children. His interests include gardening, bird watching and walking the dog. He is a supporter of England teams, whatever the sport.

From the Manchester diocesan website: The new Bishop of Bolton

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 at 9:51am BST | Comments (17) | TrackBack
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Monday, 20 June 2016

Amazing Love: a new book published

Darton, Longman and Todd has published a new book: Amazing Love, Theology for Understanding Discipleship, Sexuality and Mission.

Read the publisher’s press release describing the content of the book.

You can also read the preface, written by Mark Russell: available here.

…This book is a resource that will stimulate and encourage us to form questions in a new way so we don’t talk past each other or, worse, shout at each other. You may agree with the book or disagree with it, but it will help you consider how we can help LGBT people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ in their lives. I am grateful to Andrew and his colleagues for this new book and I commend it to you.

The LGBTI Mission has published a press release, Christians called to accept same-sex relationships:

LGBTI Mission, the recently formed Church of England campaign organisation, welcomes a new book, Amazing Love, published by Darton, Longman and Todd. This is the first fruit of the programme we launched in February. A working group met in Cambridge last January to plan this book, which has been edited by Dr Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

The book shows that there is a clear theological rationale for Christians to accept committed same-sex relationships. It is aimed at readers who may not have any formal theological training.

It does not take a specific view about how the Church should respond to same-sex marriage and thus it is hoped it will win over many of those who are not already irrevocably opposed to same-sex relationships.

Publication is timed to make the book available for the forthcoming sexuality conversations being held at the Church of England’s General Synod in York (10 to 12 July) but it should interest Christians of all denominations in Britain, and is ideal for use in discussion groups by local churches.

Copies are being sent this week to all members of the General Synod, thanks to grants made by three of LBGTI Mission’s partners: Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

The formal launch of the book will be at a reception in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster on 29 June.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Recent events highlight the timeliness of this book. Christians need to consider urgently whether the traditional conservative attitude towards same-sex relationships is still a sustainable view in today’s world. This book shows that it is possible to disagree.”

The book is mentioned in this report from the Church Times New books say that taking a hard line on sexuality will damage mission which also discusses Journeys in Grace and Truth.

…The book includes reflections on science. While emphasising that the sciences “can never provide a ‘trump card’ in ethical discussions,” the authors warn that: “We would lose credibility in mission if we still proclaimed that the world was made in six 24-hour days. We risk looking foolish if we talk about same-sex attraction and relationships without paying full attention to the full range of what there is to know on that score.”

They also draw on previous shifts in the Church’s teaching, including beliefs about slavery (“It took time — far too much time — for Christians to connect their understanding of the good news with their views on slavery.”). A study of key biblical passages concludes that they pose questions that “make it difficult to build a solid case against same-sex relationships”.

The book addresses perceived weaknesses in the arguments of both sides, warning that “many of the loudest voices . . . have been arguing in a one-dimensional way”. While one side has “talked about scripture as if interpretation was not a demanding task”, the other has “too often made experience its one source, and has too often treated scripture as a problem, rather than as the Christian foundation.

“Similarly, it has often treated reason as almost synonymous with feelings and fallen foul of what C. S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ in its willingness to elevate itself above the tradition of Christian theology, philosophy and ethics.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 June 2016 at 10:47pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 June 2016

Agenda for July 2016 General Synod - press reports

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England split over gay marriage may be unavoidable, admits Welby’s chief of staff

Madeleine Davies and Hattie Williams Church Times Talk nicely or else, Synod members are counselled ahead of sex talks

[The Timetable for the Shared Conversations and the Grace and Dialogue Booklet are available online.]

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph The ‘sincere’ schism: Church of England’s etiquette guide for gay marriage rows

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Agenda for July 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

I have listed the online papers here.

Agenda published for the July 2016 General Synod York meeting
17 June 2016

The Agenda for the July meeting of the General Synod is published today. Members will gather in York on Friday 8 July until Saturday 9 July. A key focus during these two days will be how the Church’s vision for a growing, confident and hopeful church can be put into action through the Renewal and Reform Programme.

The Church’s governing body will discuss the vision and narrative for Renewal and Reform and key changes to legislation to make innovation and change easier for those engaged with church life at all levels. The Legislative Reform Measure will make it possible to amend or repeal some Church legislation by means of Orders approved by the Synod. Several other proposed pieces of new legislation will consolidate existing provisions into a more user-friendly form and repeal provisions which are obsolete. There will also be an opportunity for Synod to discuss a report from the Development and Appointments Group updating Synod on the progress of their work on the training and development of senior Church leaders.

The Synod will also discuss a report on “A Church of England Vision for Education” with reference to the establishment of a foundation for education and leadership. The Synod will also examine Annual Reports from both the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops’ Council.

Aside from legislation linked to Renewal and Reform, Synod will also consider legislation which gives effect to two private members’ motions which were previously passed by the Synod. The amending legislation relates to forms of vesture requirements for ministers and providing for those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the normal burial service.

Synod will also be addressed by Bishop Ralf Meister of the German Evangelical Church, who will look ahead to the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. It will receive a report from the Archbishop of York on his 6 month pilgrimage.

The formal proceedings of the Synod will end on Saturday 9 July.

Following a service on 10 July at York Minster, members of the Synod will take part in Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality - following the regional sessions that concluded earlier this year - until Tuesday.

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July General Synod - online papers

Updated Friday 24 June to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation All papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 8-12 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

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

GS 2014A - Draft Measure and Pastoral Amendment Measure [Saturday]
GS 2014Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 2023 - Agenda

GS 2024 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 2025 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 2026 - Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: Report from the Development And Appointments Group of the House of Bishops [Friday]

GS 2027 - Draft Legislative Reform Measure [Saturday]
GS 2027x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2028 - Draft Inspection of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2028x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2029 - Draft Amending Canon No.36 [Saturday]
GS 2029x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2030 - Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure [Saturday]
GS 2030x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2031 - Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure [Saturday]
GS 2031x - Explanatory Memorandum plus Orgins & Destinations

GS 2032 - Draft Pensions Measure [Saturday]
GS 2032x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2033 - Clergy Discipline Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2033x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2034 - Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2034x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2035 - Amending Code of Practice under Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 [Saturday]
GS 2035x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2036 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2037 - Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and others (Fees) Order 2016 [Saturday]
GS 2036-7x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2038 - A Vision for Renewal and Reform [Saturday]

GS 2039 - A Church of England Vision for Education: a Report from the Education Division [Saturday]

GS 2040 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2041 - Archbishops’ Council’s Budget [Saturday]

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report [Friday]

Other Papers

GS Misc 1138 - Giving for life Re-ignited

GS Misc 1139 - FAOC Report on Communion and Disagreement.
Further resources can be found by clicking here

GS Misc 1140 - Draft Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 - Code of Practice as amended

GS Misc 1141 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CDA Rules 2016

GS Misc 1142 - Audit Committee Annual Report

GS Misc 1143 - Clergy Discipline Commission Annual Report

GS Misc 1144 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

GS Misc 1145 - Anglican-Methodist Joint Covenant Advocacy and Monitoring Group

GS Misc 1146 - Report of the Archbishops’ Council’s Activities

GS Misc 1147 - Crown Nominations Commission Report

Shared Conversations Material

Timetable - Sunday afternoon - Tuesday lunchtime

Grace and Dialogue Booklet

Frequently Asked Questions

St Michael’s House Protocols

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 17 June 2016 at 10:27am BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Bishops call for Church to change on gays

Updated Friday morning

A new book of essays, Journeys in Grace and Truth, edited by Jayne Ozanne, is launched this weekend. From the publicity:

Is it possible to hold a positive view of same-sex relationships while being a biblically rooted evangelical? These twelve senior Anglican Evangelicals believe so.

Journeys in Grace and Truth sets out the path each contributor has travelled to reach this point, involving moving encounters, scriptural exegesis and personal revelations. It is offered as a contribution to aid the discussion, and to broker deeper understanding between evangelicals and the wider Church.

Contributors include the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and the Bishop of Dorchester, Colin Fletcher, who have both been talking to the press.

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Leading evangelical bishops call for Church to change on gays

… Bishop Fletcher criticises the “immense” damage to “far too many good Christian people” by the Church’s attitude to gay people. Bishop Bayes says: “We need to change the Church – to make room and to extend the table.”…

This article includes a video of an interview with the Bishop of Liverpool, which can also be viewed on YouTube.

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Senior bishop calls for change in C of E attitudes to gay people

A senior bishop associated with the Church of England’s evangelical wing has called for far-reaching change in the church’s attitudes to lesbian and gay people and a meaningful welcome to Christians in same-sex relationships.

Acknowledging that he has been “profoundly changed” by encounters with lesbian and gay Christians, including within his own family, Paul Bayes, the bishop of Liverpool, has said: “I have come to believe that we need to change the church.”

LGBT people have been bruised and broken by the church, he said…

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph Two bishops urge clerics to rethink ‘interpretations’ of the Bible which condemn homosexuality

The Diocese of Liverpool has published this article on its webpage: Church ‘must give a hearing to Evangelical Journeys of Acceptance for same-sex relationships’.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 16 June 2016 at 5:50pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Sentamu on homophobia

The Archbishop of York appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme today, and got into a spat with presenter Piers Morgan about homophobia. There’s a video here: Piers challenges Archbishop of York over gay rights.
[Some extensions to your browser might prevent the video playing.]

Press reports

Harry Farley Christian Today Archbishop of York clashes with Piers Morgan over gay marriage

The Archbishop of York became embroiled in a live TV argument over same-sex marriage on Wednesday morning as ITV presenter Piers Morgan accused him of homophobia.

Archbishop John Sentamu was appearing on Good Morning Britain when Morgan compared homophobia and racism. Sentamu, who is originally from Uganda, was visibly irritated at Morgan’s suggestions.

“This is the trouble I have with the people who argue that the question of sexuality is equal in terms of argument to the question of slavery.

“No, some of my relations died on the ships. Slavery was a very wrong thing.” …

Nick Duffy Pink News Archbishop John Sentamu: Homosexuality is not a sin, LGBT people were created in God’s image too

Antony Bushfield Premier Archbishop: ‘Not supporting gay marriage does not equal homophobia’

Nicola Agius Mirror Archbishop of York NOT happy as Piers Morgan compares homophobia to racism in heated gay marriage debate

Keiligh Baker Mail Online ‘The church ISN’T homophobic – I have lots of gay friends’: Archbishop of York in TV row with Piers Morgan as he is challenged over religious attitudes after Orlando massacre

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 15 June 2016 at 6:23pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 June 2016

Church of England responds to Orlando shootings

email received at 1.23 pm Monday

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued the following joint statement in response to the shootings in Orlando:

Monday 13 June 2016
For immediate use

“After Sunday’s attack in Orlando as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification. The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being. Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.”

Other statements:

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Archbishop of Dublin

Bishop of Central Florida (whose diocese includes Orlando)

Numerous other American bishops

Statement from Integrity USA president

Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 2:17pm BST | Comments (52) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Liverpool and Akure

We linked in the previous article to a statement The Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Communion from Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. He wrote:

…Over a year ago, as part of this walking together, I asked the Suffragan bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Susan Goff, whether she would become one of our honorary assistant bishops (or “assisting bishops” as they call this sort of arrangement in TEC). She kindly accepted this invitation and, again last year, we secured the necessary permissions for her to minister here. As +Susan is an overseas bishop, these permissions do not extend to the conducting of ordinations. I remain delighted that our ministry here will be enriched by what +Susan will bring to us as a teacher, pastor and disciple. She will also be able to hear and to engage with the wide range of views in our Diocese on the way the Gospel is understood in these days.

It seems that this invitation has caused the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, which has been another of our link dioceses, to issue a statement indicating that they no longer wish to be in a link-relationship with Liverpool. I regret this. I would prefer to walk together with Akure as well as with Virginia, within the one Communion whose life we share.

I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Akure, but as and when I do I shall write to him expressing this regret. If our partners choose to close this door, this is a matter of sorrow for us but of course we respect their decision as free partners in a free relationship.

At one time this link was three-way and provided wonderful opportunities for sharing and mutual learning, though my colleagues tell me that five years ago, in 2011, the then Bishop of Akure formally indicated that his Diocese did not feel able to remain in such a three-way relationship…

Ruth Gledhill has now published an article Nigeria diocese severs link with Liverpool over same-sex blessings bishop.

This in turn links to a statement from the Bishop of Akure, Simeon Borokini. In which he says:

…Peace of the Lord be with you and all yours in Jesus name. I received a message from our Primate in Nigeria, who is currently the Chairman of GAFCON today about a partnership that is in the Western news. That there is a three way Diocesan partnership between the Diocese of Liverpool, England, the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the United States.

Also, that recently, the Diocese of Liverpool made the assisting Bishop of Virginia, Susan Goff, an assisting Bishop in Liverpool. Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia.

Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool Diocese…

There is also a letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in which he writes:

…In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church North America as a new wineskin in that continent. Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.

At our recent Primates Council meeting in Nairobi we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 June 2016 at 2:34pm BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Church of England Ministry Statistics 2012-2015

Updated Sunday morning

The Church of England has today released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015: Ministry Statistics 2012-2015. There is also a short commentary provided by the Venerable Julian Hubbard, Director of Ministry, and detailed Diocesan tables in a separate excel file. There is also a press release, copied below.

Press coverage includes:

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E in ageing clergy crisis with 25% of ministers aged over 60

Aaron James Premier Church of England: We need to Rev up clergy numbers

Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Peter Ould were interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (starting at 1hr 21min).

Ian Paul and Peter Ould write about the figures here: Do we have enough vicars?

Update

Jeremy Fletcher has written The Church of England’s Middle Aged Spread.

David Keen has written The Leading of the 5,000 part 2 - vocations and canaries.

Church of England press release

Church of England releases new Ministry Statistics

The Church of England has released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015.

The statistics show that total ordained ministry over the last 4 years has remained stable, with over 20,000 ordained people serving the church in various roles.

The number of stipendiary clergy has fallen from 8,300 to 8,000 between 2012 and 2015.

The proportion of stipendiary clergy who are women increased from 24% in 2012 to 27% in 2015. And 19% of senior staff in 2015 were women, up from 12% in 2012.

Nationally, 13% of parish clergy are aged under 40, while a quarter are 60 and over.

There was an increase in stipendiary clergy from Black and Minority Ethnic communities from 3% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2015.

In his commentary, the Church of England Director of Ministry, Julian Hubbard, writes: “While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years.”

“The statistics on the age and ethnicity of clergy show that we still have some way to go to ensure that the whole cohort fully reflects the demographics of the wider community.”

“The good news is that there is a growing readiness to meet these challenges.”

Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform, the Church of England’s major response to falling church attendance, said: “These figures support what we have been saying about the need for renewal and reform in the Church of England.”

“Renewal and Reform is about a message of hope, through changed lives and transformed communities, as people discover their vocation to love God and serve others.

“Renewal and Reform is not a top-down project to fix the church, but a narrative of local hope in God shared throughout the church.”

“As part of Renewal and Reform, we are currently consulting on how we better release the gifts of all Christian leaders in church and wider society, whether ordained or not.”

Notes for editors

The last Ministry Statistics paper was published by the Church of England in 2012. The implementation of a new clergy payroll system in 2012 initially made it more difficult to extract data for ministry statistics.

The Ministry Statistics paper and Commentary are available here.

The Church of England’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page is here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 2 June 2016 at 9:40am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 May 2016

July General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the July General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 17 June 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2016
Timetable
Friday 8 July
1 pm — 2 pm Meeting of the House of Laity
2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
2.30 pm Opening worship
Formal business
Presentation of the Pro-Prolocutors for the Convocation of Canterbury and the Deputy Prolocutors for the Convocation of York
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests
3.10 pm Presentation by the Archbishop of York on his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, including a short time of worship using the Pilgrimage Prayers
3.35 pm Presentation on the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, April 2016
3.50 pm Debate on the Report by the Business Committee
*4.30 pm Approval of appointments to the Archbishops’ Council
4.40 pm Take note debate on the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report
5.30 pm Nurturing and Discerning Senior Leaders: take note debate on a Report from the Development and Appointments Group of the House of Bishops
8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
8.30 pm Questions

Saturday 9 July
9.30 am — 1.00 pm
9.30 am Morning worship
Legislative Business
9.45 am Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure — Revision Stage
Legislative Reform Measure — First Consideration
Inspection of Churches Measure — First Consideration
Amending Canon No.36 — First Consideration
Statute Law (Repeals) Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Pensions Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure — First Consideration (deemed)
Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules (deemed)
Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc) Rules (deemed)
Amending Code of Practice under the CDM (deemed)
Usual Fees Orders (deemed)

2.30 pm — 6.15 pm
Legislative Business (continued, if required)
4.30 pm Debate on a motion on a Vision and Narrative for Renewal and Reform
5.15 pm ‘A Church of England Vision for Education’ — take note debate on a report from the Education Division

8.30 pm — 10.00 pm
Financial Business
8.30 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report 2015
8.50 pm Archbishops’ Council’s Budget for 2017
*9.50 pm Prorogation

Sunday 10 July
10.00 am Holy Communion in York Minster

2.30 pm on Sunday 10 July — 1pm on Tuesday 12 July
Shared Conversations
(a separate timetable will be issued in the first circulation)

*not later than
Please note that all timings are indicative unless marked with an asterisk

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 May 2016 at 4:24pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Christine Wilson to be next Dean of Lincoln

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Lincoln: Christine Wilson

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 27 May 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christine Wilson to be appointed Dean of Lincoln.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Christine Louise Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield, in the diocese of Derby, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lincoln, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Philip John Warr Buckler, MA, on 31 January 2016.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Christine Wilson (aged 58) trained for her ordination at Southern Diocese Ministerial Training Scheme. She served her first title as Curate at Henfield with Shermanbury and Woodmancote, in the diocese of Chichester from 1997 to 2002. From 2002 to 2008 she was Team Vicar at St John the Baptist, Palmeria Square, Hove, in Chichester diocese, and from 2008 to 2010 was Vicar at Goring-by-the-Sea, in Chichester diocese. Since 2010 she has been Archdeacon of Chesterfield in the diocese of Derby.

She is married to Alan, a retired Head of Compliance for a division of an international bank. She has 2 daughters, her third daughter died when she was 29, and has 2 grandchildren.

Her interests include gardening, theatre and dance and hosting parties.

Lincoln diocesan website
Derby diocesan website

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 27 May 2016 at 10:22am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 May 2016

House of Bishops meeting reports

The House of Bishops met at Bishopthorpe this week and issued this press release afterwards:

Church of England House of Bishops Meeting May 2016
25 May 2016

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met on 23-24 May 2016.

On its first day the Bishops received an update on the shared conversations process, received a report from the Faith and Order Commission and discussed the contribution and vision of the Church of England on Education. A substantial amount of time was spent on safeguarding including receiving the report of the Elliot Review from the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally. A news release from Bishop Sarah can be found on the Diocese of Exeter website here: http://www.exeter.anglican.org/bishop-sarah-presents-safeguarding-review-recommendations-house-bishops/

In addition the House agreed to publish reports from the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) on safeguarding in addition to a report from FAOC on “Diversity, Difference and Serious Disagreement in the Life of the Church”.

On its second day the House received an oral report from the Archbishop of York on his recently completed pilgrimage and the lessons learned. The House also received an update from the Bishop of Chelmsford on the discussions on Intentional Discipleship at the 2016 Anglican Communion Consultative Council.

The House received and agreed to publish a discussion document on welfare reform from Revd Dr. Malcolm Brown and also discussed the work of the “Turning up the Volume” Group on senior appointments and minority ethnic clergy.

The House discussed and approved work on the Renewal and Reform programme and received an update on its work from the diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Liverpool, Mike Eastwood. The House also discussed legislative proposals relating to canon law to be brought to General Synod (Canon B8 & B38) as well as other reports to be brought before Synod.

The news release from Bishop Sarah Mullally is also copied below the fold.

BISHOP SARAH PRESENTS SAFEGUARDING REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS TO HOUSE OF BISHOPS

Posted: 25th May, 2016

The House of Bishops this week received and pledged support for the recommendations of the Elliott Review – an independent report into alleged sexual abuse committed by senior figures in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, who originally received the report at the request of the survivor, presented key points on the recommendations to the House of Bishops.

These include; improved training, particularly for senior staff, around receiving disclosures; working to ensure financial advice is never at the expense of a pastoral response; and a commitment to revise and strengthen safeguarding structures.

The independent Review, carried out by Ian Elliott, reported back in March. It had been commissioned by the National Safeguarding Team and Diocese of London to establish what lessons could be learnt from an examination of the case.

Speaking after the House of Bishops, Bishop Sarah said: “I am encouraged the House has given me the full support to lead on implementing the recommendations but equally I am aware that for survivors this will not seem like soon enough as they have struggled for years to have their voices heard. I am committed to ensuring that the learning points from the Review are rolled out across the Church of England as soon as possible. I would also like to repeat my apology to ‘Joe’ who suffered appalling abuse in this case.”

In December the Church of England had issued a statement about the review in response to a newspaper interview with the survivor, offering an unreserved apology and confirming that a settlement had been reached.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at 7:25am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Church of Scotland approves the Columba Declaration

Updated Wednesday evening

The Church of Scotland reports today: Historic ecumenical agreement with Church of England approved.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has unanimously backed a landmark agreement to enter into an historic ecumenical partnership with the Church of England.

The Columba Declaration represents a “significant step” between the two denominations and will open up new future possibilities of closer working together to develop God’s Church…

Other reports on the decision include:

Gavin Drake Anglican Communion News Service Anglo-Scottish ecumenical agreement approved by Church of Scotland

The General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has this morning approved the Columba Declaration – an ecumenical agreement between it and the Church of England; and – in identical terms approved by the C of E’s General Synod in February – instructed the creation of an ecumenical “contact group” which would include representatives of the two churches and also the Scottish Episcopal Church…

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of Scotland passes landmark unity pact with Church of England

BBC News Archbishop of Canterbury in Church of Scotland General Assembly first

The text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Church of Scotland General Assembly includes this apology.

… First, for me at least, is an apology.

The Columba Declaration is one that I support strongly and I hope you will, but the handling of its announcement caused much consternation and deep hurt to the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). That hurt is exclusively my responsibility and I want to put on the record to you and to them my apology. We know that the goal of unity envisaged in the Columba Declaration cannot be pursued by some churches in isolation from others, and in our context that must mean a particular place for the Scottish Episcopal Church as your Anglican partner in Scotland, and as our immediate neighbour in the Anglican Communion (we have many close links, including ordained ministers moving between our two churches, as we do with the Church in Wales). For this reason there is great importance in the motion at our Synod saying that the Contact Group to take the Columba Declaration forward should include an SEC representative, whom we ask to be a full participant…

Our report on the initial announcement of the Declaration (on Christmas Eve) is here, and there are later reports here, here, here, here and here.

Update

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration – where are we now?

Statement by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission

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Monday, 16 May 2016

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

Updated Monday night

The Church Commissioners have issued their annual report for 2015 this morning, and the following accompanying press release.

Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “I want to congratulate the investment team for the continued strong performance, delivering more than 8% in a challenging financial climate. Without this leadership and good stewardship it would not be possible to support the Church as we do. But we must not forget the generous support from parishes, dioceses and cathedrals which provide around three quarters of the Church’s annual spending on ministry and mission.”

First Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Andreas Whittam Smith also congratulated the long-term performance but warned of harder times ahead due to the nervousness of investors: “The Commissioners’ fund has grown by an annual average of 9.7% over the past thirty years compared with an annual inflation rate during the same period of 3.4%,” he said. “Unfortunately it may be harder in the future to achieve such a satisfactory performance. My message to the wider Church is – don’t count on it. The nervousness of investors is explained by the feeling that governments have lost the power to reverse any slowdown in economic activity. In earlier time they would reduce interest rates, but now that rates hover around zero, that remedy is unavailable.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support strategic mission activities including:
  • Strategic Development Funding for large scale projects amounting to more than £6m, such as the Growing Younger initiative in Birmingham Diocese;
  • Supporting new churches to be planted across the country from a new City Centre Resourcing Churches fund, such as St Swithin’s, Lincoln;
  • Pioneering church workers in new communities such as the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London and a new housing estate in Exeter.

Growth and diversification

Notable performance was once again delivered in property, private equity and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and their property portfolio totalled just less than £2bn at the end of 2015 with an average return of 14.4%, generated through active management of a high quality set of properties.

The private equity portfolio continued to grow in the year, bringing the total to £87.7million. These strategies generated a combined return of 20.2% in 2015.

The Church Commissioners continued to invest in forestry with two new holdings in Australia, bringing the total holdings to nearly 120,000 acres. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 13% in 2015.

Responsible investment

The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2015 the Commissioners adopted a new climate change policy, setting out a comprehensive approach to climate change including how we divest, how we seek low-carbon investments and how we engage with companies and public policy. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

Notable work in 2015 included the Commissioners’ role in the Aiming for A initiative and the success of the shareholder resolutions on climate change disclosure that the Commissioners co-filed with BP and Shell. These were overwhelmingly passed at both companies, with the support of their respective boards.

Notes

The annual report can be download here. The annual review can be downloaded here.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners has commented on 2015’s results. Audio is available here, and video here. (1 min).

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, has commented on our responsible investment work in 2015. Audio is available here, and video here. (1:53 min)

Update

Press reports

Katie Allen The Guardian Church of England sells investments fearing market slowdown

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England invests in Google despite criticism of its tax record

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Friday, 6 May 2016

House of Commons: Question on Same-Sex Marriage for Clergy

A Question on Same Sex Marriage: Clergy was put to the Second Church Estates Commissioner on Thursday. Here is a transcript (scroll down for the other topics covered):

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)

1. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Church of England on supporting clergy who have entered into same sex marriages or civil partnerships.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I should first declare my personal position, which is that I voted in favour of same sex marriage when the decision was before Parliament, but I do recognise that it is difficult for the Anglican Church. The Anglican Communion extends over many different cultures and many continents, and not all cultures and societies move at the same pace. It is therefore all the more remarkable that the Archbishop of Canterbury managed to get a unanimous agreement among all the bishops of the Anglican Communion, in Canterbury, in January, that there should be a new doctrine condemning homophobic prejudice and violence, and resolving

“to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation.”

Cat Smith: I thank the right hon. Lady for her answer. She will be aware that many people feel called to ministry, including, naturally, many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Although Church of England policies protect heterosexual couples if they are in a marriage by not taking their status into account when it comes to jobs within the Church, the same is not true for those who have entered same sex marriages. Is she aware of cases of written permission from Bishops placed on file, and of refusals to issue licences when new positions are sought, including even secular positions? Will she do her best to ensure that LGBT clergy are not discriminated against here in the Church of England?

Mrs Spelman: As I mentioned, the Anglican Communion is extremely diverse. What we must remember, living here in the liberal west, is that a typical Anglican communicant is in Africa and black, female and under 35; in many African nations there are also very strong views on this subject, and keeping the Communion together is a big challenge. It is open to Church of England clergy to enter into civil partnerships, and many do so. The Church of England in England is moving forward in its understanding with a shared conversation, three parts of which have already occurred. In July this year, the Synod will move forward with the shared conversation about sexuality—the nature of human sexuality. I reiterate the point that the whole Communion agreed unanimously that the Church should never, by its actions, give any impression other than that every human being is the same in God’s sight regardless of sexuality.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): The Dean of Lichfield cathedral, Adrian Dorber, is always telling me how short of money the cathedral is. May I just say that I live for the day when gay clergymen can be openly gay and there will be gay marriages, which will be paid for in Lichfield cathedral and all the other cathedrals in England and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a liberal nation.

Mrs Spelman: I look forward to visiting the Lichfield diocese. Indeed, the Government have been very generous in their funding for repairs to that beautiful cathedral. On the specific subject of human sexuality, I do not think that the Archbishop of Canterbury could have been clearer about his leadership in bringing the whole Anglican Communion together for the first time, united behind the doctrine that we should condemn homophobic prejudice and violence at home and abroad.

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Suffragan Bishops

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this very useful article: Suffragan bishops: from selection to ordination & consecration.

Prompted by the forthcoming translation of the Bishop of Sheffield to Oxford he has also written Bishops: from announcement to installation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 28 April 2016 at 11:45am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Diocese to be known as ‘Diocese of Leeds’

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales has announced today that from later this year it will only use its official name, the Diocese of Leeds. Here is the official announcement.

Diocese to be known as ‘Diocese of Leeds’

Since its creation two years ago, the Diocese of Leeds has largely been known as ‘The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales’. However, given the confusion this continues to cause, in future, once new branding has been created, the diocese is to be known only by its official title, the Diocese of Leeds…

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

Steven Croft to be next Bishop of Oxford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Oxford: Steven John Lindsey Croft

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 12 April 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft as Her Majesty’s Bishop of Oxford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Steven John Lindsey Croft, MA, PhD, Lord Bishop of Sheffield, in the Diocese of Sheffield for election as Bishop of Oxford in succession to the Right Reverend John Lawrence Pritchard, MA, MLitt, on his resignation on 31 October 2014.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft (aged 58) is from Halifax in West Yorkshire. He studied first at Worcester College, Oxford and then at St John’s College, Durham where he trained for ordination at Cranmer Hall. He served his title as Curate at St Andrew Enfield in London Diocese from 1983 to 1987. In 1987 he returned to Halifax to be Vicar of St George, Ovenden in the Diocese of Wakefield. From 1996 he moved to become Warden at Cranmer Hall, Durham, before taking up the role of Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions in 2004. Since 2009 he has been the Bishop of Sheffield.

At the heart of Bishop Steven’s ministry in Sheffield has been a desire to connect the Church across the Diocese more deeply together as one body with a common sense of mission and purpose and to enable the diocese to engage with mission in the wider community with confidence and hope. He has worked creatively with Anglicans of all traditions in a very diverse diocese as well as with civic and community leaders and the leaders of other churches and other faiths.

Bishop Steven became a member of the House of Lords in 2013. He is 1 of 2 bishops elected to serve on the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, and has been chair of the Ministry Council since 2012. In 2008 he was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his work with fresh expressions. He is the author of a number of books on Christian life and ministry and a novel for children. He writes a regular blog.

Bishop Steven is married to Ann. They have 4 adult children and 1 grandchild. He is a keen cook and bakes his own bread.

Sheffield diocesan website: Current Bishop of Sheffield announced as the next Bishop for the Diocese of Oxford
and A Letter from Bishop Steven
Oxford diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the new Bishop of Oxford

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Monday, 4 April 2016

New Dean of Southwell announced

From the Southwell and Nottingham diocesan website today:

New Dean of Southwell announced

The Venerable Nicola Sullivan, currently Archdeacon of Wells, in the Diocese of Bath & Wells, will be the new Dean of Southwell, it was announced today…

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Friday, 1 April 2016

First annual report from the Independent Reviewer

The first annual report from the Independent Reviewer appointed under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Resolution of Disputes Procedure) Regulations 2014, Sir Philip Mawer, has been published and is available here.

It includes, at Appendix 3 (scroll down) a Note on the Legal and Canonical Status of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors.

Earlier material concerning the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests can be found on the CofE website here.

Forward in Faith has commented on this report.

Previous TA articles relating to earlier reports can be found here on Chrism Masses, and then here on All Saints Cheltenham, and also on the consultation paper discussed in the report, and on the Notes issued as the outcome of that.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 1 April 2016 at 12:51pm BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Jo Wells to be next Bishop of Dorking

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dorking: Jo Wells
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 24 March 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jo Bailey Wells for election as Suffragan Bishop of Dorking.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Jo Bailey Wells, MA, PhD, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the Suffragan See of Dorking in the Diocese of Guildford. She succeeds the Right Reverend Ian James Brackley, MA, on his resignation on 30 September 2015.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Dr Jo Bailey Wells (50) was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and then at University of Minnesota, USA. She trained for ordained ministry at St John’s College, Durham.

She was Chaplain of Clare College, Cambridge from 1995 to 1998 and Dean from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2005 Jo served as a lecturer in Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. From there she moved to North Carolina to be Director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies and Associate Professor of Bible and Ministry at Duke Divinity School. On her return to the UK in 2013 she took up the role of Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, based at Lambeth Palace. Since 2015 she has also served as Canon Theologian at Liverpool Cathedral.

Jo is married to the Reverend Dr Sam Wells, who is Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. They have 2 children. Her interests include art, architecture and textiles. Jo has spent a significant portion of her annual leave over many years in East Africa, most recently in supporting Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul in theological education in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

The Guildford diocesan website has Bishop of Dorking announced.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s website has Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain to be new Bishop of Dorking.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 March 2016 at 9:42am GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Church of England settles another sex abuse claim

It was reported this week in both the Church Times and The Times that a settlement has been reached in the case of Professor Julie Macfarlane. This case was reported earlier here: Church of England criticised by survivor of sexual abuse.

Both these news articles are behind their respective paywalls. But the Church Times article says that Dr Macfarlane has agreed to accept £40,000 damages, and a further £40,000 to cover her legal costs.

It also says that A key part of the agreement is a “protocol-review meeting” with interested parties “to agree a protocol for the handling of claims for damages made by victims and survivors of abuse against a body within the Church of England”.

The meeting is to take place before 30 April, and “all endeavours” will be made to ensure that the protocol is in place before 30 June.

Update Tuesday
The full text of Church Times article is now available for all to read.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 6:51am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Group challenges naming of Bishop George Bell as a paedophile

The George Bell Group has sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also issued a press statement: George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The statement is copied in full below the fold.

The core members of the George Bell Group are listed here.

The full text of the report is published here as a web page, and also as a PDF file.

Press Statement
George Bell’s naming as a paedophile is challenged today by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures

20 March 2016

George Bell’s condemnation as a paedophile has been challenged by a group of lawyers, academics, politicians and senior Church figures. The treatment of George Bell has been taken up today with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

George Bell is famed for being one of the first to speak out against the dangers Hitler posed in the 1930s and for saving many lives during these years by guaranteeing refugees from Germany. He was one of the few to condemn our government’s obliteration bombing of German cities during the Second World War.

A surprised world learnt on 22nd October 2015 that this much-admired wartime Bishop of Chichester had in 2015 apparently been found guilty, by Church authorities, of child sexual abuse. As a result, his reputation has been irreparably damaged, and schools and institutions dedicated to his memory have been renamed.

The Church of England’s statement appears to accept the allegation of abuse as true. It contained a highly damaging statement that the Sussex police would have arrested the Bishop had he still been alive. But this would have been no more than standard police practice, a fact not mentioned in the statement. The police have confirmed that after investigation arrests lead to charges in less than 30% of cases, and of course, not every charge leads to a guilty verdict. It is significant that neither the police nor the NSPCC have received any further complaints against the Bishop. Although challenged, the Church has not provided details of any corroboration to enable the complainant’s story to be judged.

A detailed report compiled by the George Bell Group, today reveals that the Church’s inquiries were astonishingly inadequate, especially since they followed an uncorroborated allegation, first made many decades after the alleged offence, and so far unaccompanied by any further accusations of the same nature. The report shows that the Church authorities:

  • failed to seek, find or interview the most qualified and knowledgeable witness to George Bell’s daily life at the time of the alleged abuse, though his name and details appear in the Church’s own clergy directory. This witness, interviewed by the George Bell group, utterly and in detail rebuts the allegations and regards them as incredible.
  • made no attempt to consult George Bell’s extensive papers and diaries, kept at Lambeth palace Library, to check these allegations, their dates and nature, against the recorded details of his life at the time.
  • failed to find or contact any of George Bell’s living relatives, to warn them in advance of their plan to blacken George Bell’s name publicly, most notably his niece, Barbara Whitley, who also strongly rebuts the claims.

The Group does not challenge the survivor’s belief in her account; the question is whether others should believe it.

The group questions whether the safeguarding group had the legal and forensic expertise to come to a judgement that would support the idea that, on the balance of probabilities, George Bell was guilty of child sexual abuse.

Victims of child abuse are as interested as the wider community, if not more so, in having a robust system to investigate their claims of abuse. It is clear to the George Bell Group that such a system still needs to be established by the Church of England.

The group’s concern is that the valuable reputation of a great man, a rare example of self-sacrificing human goodness, has been carelessly destroyed on the basis of slender evidence, sloppily investigated. The group also feels that the Church’s whole approach to such cases needs to be more transparent, and more in tune with the principles of justice. The guilty must indeed be punished. But the innocent must be protected, whether they are living or dead, and whether they are ordinary citizens or eminent in the eyes of the world.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 March 2016 at 1:00am GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse has preliminary hearing

Updated again Friday midday

The Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse (IICSA) has begun hearings into church-related cases. For general background on why this government-initiated inquiry exists, see here and also here.

More about the Anglican aspect of this inquiry can be found here: Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church and this file contains the Definition of Scope.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing is explained here: Preliminary hearings for the Anglican Church and Rochdale and here: Preliminary Hearing Note.

Media reports focus on the claim by Richard Scorer that one alleged victim of Peter Ball wrote to the then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1992 and was ignored. Lord Carey has said he had no recollection of receiving any such letter.

Telegraph Lord Carey might have delayed investigation into church sex abuse for 20 years, inquiry hears

Guardian Archbishop did not pass abuse claims to police, Goddard inquiry told

BBC Goddard Inquiry: Focus on CofE handling of abuse claims

Daily Mail Carey ‘held up inquiry into priest for 20 years’: Former Archbishop of Canterbury ‘failed to pass allegations of abuse to police after receiving a complaint in 1992’

Mirror Ex-Archbishop of Canterbury allegedly helped delay sex abuse probe into bishop for 20 years

Independent Peter Ball: Details of paedophile priest’s abuse delayed ‘because former Archbishop George Carey failed to pass on information’

Updates

Gavin Drake Church Times Justice Goddard opens IICSA investigation into the Anglican Church

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Sex abuse public inquiry begins investigation into Church of England

David Henke and Tim Wood Exaro CoE finds one million pages of documents about child sex abuse

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 17 March 2016 at 10:59am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Church of England publishes part of Elliott report into sexual abuse case

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Church of England has today published portions of the report that was commissioned in September 2015 into a particular case of alleged sexual abuse by a member of the clergy.

The materials published by the church do not disclose the names of any of the persons involved. However, the Guardian newspaper carries a report by Harriet Sherwood which names the perpetrator and states that the Guardian has seen the full report. The Guardian has also interviewed the survivor in this case.

The Church Times has also seen the full report, see below.

…Elliott examined the case of “Joe” – described in the report as “B”, and whose identity is known to the Guardian – who as a 15-year-old was subjected to a “sadistic” assault in 1976 by Garth Moore, a leading figure in the church, the chancellor of three dioceses and vicar of St Mary’s Abchurch in the City of London. Moore, who died in 1990, is described in the report as “A”…

  • And a later write-through of the story for the front page of the Wednesday morning paper edition names the bishops concerned:

…The Guardian understands that among those told of the abuse were three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop. None of them are named in the report by Ian Elliott, a safeguarding expert, but the survivor identified them as Tim Thornton, now bishop of Truro; Richard Holloway, former bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal church, now retired; John Eastaugh, former bishop of Hereford, now dead; and Stephen Platten, former bishop of Wakefield and now honorary assistant bishop of London…

…In a statement, Thornton said: “I remember having several conversations with [Joe], mainly about his faith. But I am sorry to say that I simply do not recall the conversation that he has referred to. Had I been party to a conversation of that nature, I would either have referred him to somebody who would have been well placed to help him, or would have told somebody myself about such a serious disclosure.”
A statement from the diocese of London said Platten had apologised to Joe for his “lack of detailed recollection of their conversations in the 1980s” and “regretted he was unable to help further”.
Holloway said he did not recall any disclosure: “I have no memory of it, but I’ve no reason to challenge it. I had many pastoral conversations with many people…”

…Last month, Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham, who leads the C of E’s safeguarding work, privately apologised to Joe for the church’s response to his disclosures. He said he had no doubt that Joe had been abused by Moore, and there were likely to be other survivors who have not yet come forward. He ended his handwritten letter, seen by the Guardian, with: “I am … deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused you.”

But there has been no apology from Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Joe reports writing 18 letters after the church began examining his case. He had one reply, from a correspondence secretary, assuring him that “the archbishop would hold him in his prayers”…

Links to the officially published material:

Report by Tim Wyatt in the Church Times Abuse case turns spotlight on to flawed C of E safeguarding practices

…The report will not be published in full, although the conclusions and recommendations will be published by the C of E. Bishop Mullally said that this was because of pastoral concerns, although Joe has told the Church Times that wants the detail of the review to be made public…

…Joe said he was optimistic that the report would lead to real reform, but still had reservations. He had asked for a female bishop to lead the implementation of the recommendations because he had wanted a new broom to sweep the Church clean.

“I wanted someone to look at this with fresh eyes,” he said. “It needed to be somebody who wasn’t part of the layers of complicity and loyalty, who didn’t carry all that baggage.”

Although he has not yet met Bishop Mullally, he said he had heard positive things about her. “I have the sense that she could kick the Church out of its complacency…”

Earlier material from the Church Times

Earlier material from the Guardian

Other media reports:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 at 2:24pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Archbishop of Canterbury appoints new Chief of Staff and Strategy

From the Archbishop’s website:

Archbishop of Canterbury appoints new Chief of Staff and Strategy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

Canon David Porter will take up the new role at Lambeth Palace in early May.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of Canon David Porter as Chief of Staff and Strategy at Lambeth Palace. He takes over from Kay Brock, who retires this month after four years at Lambeth Palace.

David is currently in the Lambeth Palace leadership group working as the Archbishops’ Director for Reconciliation. He will start in his new role in early May.

David, originally from Belfast, comes with experience in several Christian organisations at senior staff, CEO and board level. He has long experience in public affairs and was a member of the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and Community Relations Council. Prior to joining the Lambeth Palace team in 2013 he was the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral.

Speaking about the appointment, Archbishop Justin Welby said:

“This is an exciting appointment that draws together David’s recent experience leading one of my priorities and his extensive background in developing strategic and effective organisations to serve Christ and the church.

“David will lead on strategy development and implementation, as well as public affairs, working closely with senior colleagues. Along with the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Rev Nigel Stock, he will be responsible for enabling the entire team at Lambeth Palace to work effectively together, with colleagues at Church House, Bishopthorpe, the Anglican Communion Office and across the wider church.”

Speaking about his new role, David Porter said:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Archbishop Justin and colleagues at Lambeth over the last three years in what has been an immensely fulfilling role. It is an unexpected privilege to be given this new responsibility within the team at Lambeth Palace. The next few years will be exciting and challenging for the church, and all those who work at Lambeth are deeply committed to supporting the Archbishop in his ministry. I look forward to enabling them to flourish in this task.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 March 2016 at 11:47am GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Michael Ipgrave to be next Bishop of Lichfield

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Lichfield: Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 March 2016

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave for election as Bishop of Lichfield.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Michael Geoffrey Ipgrave, OBE, MA, PhD, Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark, for election as Bishop of Lichfield in succession to the Right Reverend Jonathan Michael Gledhill, MA, on his resignation on 30 September 2015.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave (57) grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire, in the English Midlands. He studied mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, and trained for the ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford after a year spent working as a labourer in a factory in Birmingham.

He was ordained Deacon in 1982 and Priest in 1983 in the Dicoese of Peterborough. After more than 20 years ministry in Leicestershire and Japan, he became Archdeacon of Southwark in 2004. He was also Canon Missioner at Southwark Cathedral from 2010 to 2012 and was Chair of the Southwark and London Diocesan Housing Association, and Anglican Borough Dean of Southwark. Prior to this he had been Inter Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary of the Churches’ Commission on Inter Faith Relations.

He was awarded the OBE in the new year’s honours list in 2011 for services to inter-faith relations in London. Since 2012 he has been Area Bishop of Woolwich, in the Diocese of Southwark and is also diocesan Warden of Readers. He chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, and is Co-Chair of the Anglican-Lutheran Society and of the Church of England’s Mission Theology Advisory Group.

Bishop Michael has written extensively on inter-faith issues and on questions of religion and human rights. He has edited 6 volumes on Christian-Muslim relations, is the author of Trinity and Inter Faith Dialogue (Peter Lang, 2003), and has contributed about 30 journal articles and book chapters.

Bishop Michael is married to Dr Julia Ipgrave, who works at Roehampton University as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Humanities. They have 3 grown up sons, 1 with a German and 1 with a Russian wife, and are looking forward to the imminent birth of their first grandchild in Germany. Michael and Julia are enthusiastic about things Japanese; they enjoy walking, and are looking forward to exploring Staffordshire and Shropshire on foot.

The Lichfield Diocesan website has this: 99th Bishop of Lichfield named.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 2 March 2016 at 10:10am GMT | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Monday, 29 February 2016

Archbishops Call for ‘Great Wave of Prayer’

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

See this press release from Lambeth Palace and from Bishopthorpe.

See also this website.

Read the full text of the letter here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Lent 2016

Thy kingdom Come, thy will be done …

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 February 2016 at 4:23pm GMT | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Friday, 26 February 2016

Philip Hesketh to be next Dean of Rochester

Press release from Number 10

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

Press release from Number 10

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 February 2016 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Independent Review into Peter Ball case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terms of Reference: Review – Peter Ball

Background

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

1. Objectives

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

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

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

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

2.Review Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Scope of the Review

The Review team will:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 1:00am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Friday, 19 February 2016

Synod news and comments

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

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

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

Lucy Gorman Feb 2016

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

Church Times leader Good news to the poor

Update

Stephen Lynas Some are dead, and some are living

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 19 February 2016 at 12:34pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The SEC Primus writes and talks about the Columba Declaration

David Chillingworth writes More about Columba.

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

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

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

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

Preview

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

Wednesday’s business

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

Order papers
morning
afternoon

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

Slides from the morning presentation on Renewal & Reform

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

Press reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Synod - Tuesday's business

Updated at intervals during the day and on Wednesday

Press preview

Alistair Munro The Scotsman Kirk Moderator to make history in England

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

BBC News Kirk moderator to address CofE Synod

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

Tuesday’s business

Order paper 2

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

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

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

Church of Scotland news

General Synod votes to approve historic agreement between Churches

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

Press reports

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

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

Antony Bushfield Premier Bishop slams Church for preferring the rich

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

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod passes historic Columba Declaration

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

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

Blog

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

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

WATCH Women in Ministry Report 2015

Updated Wednesday evening

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

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH, has said

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

Update

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

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

Press preview

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

Today’s business

Order paper 1

Questions paper

Live video stream

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

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

Audio from all the sessions at General Synod February 2016

Press reports

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

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

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 February 2016 at 2:03pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Friday, 12 February 2016

Pre-Synod comment and news

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

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

Kelvin Holdsworth The Columba Declaration

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

Church Times RME plans may be disastrous, say colleges

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 12 February 2016 at 4:09pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 8 February 2016

Statement from Bishop Paul Butler on George Bell

The Church of England has issued this statement today.

Statement from Bishop Paul Butler on George Bell
08 February 2016

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

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

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

Read the full statement

Original statement on Bishop George Bell, October 2015

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

The full statement is copied below the fold.

Statement from Bishop of Durham on George Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 8 February 2016 at 11:40am GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 February 2016

LGBTI Mission launched

Updated

The LGBTI Mission has issued a press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates

There is some press coverage of this:

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 February 2016 at 12:30am GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

interview with Bishop George Bell's victim

Updated

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

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

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

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

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

The original Church statements on this case are here.

Update

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

Dr Warner said:

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

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

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

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

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

Archbishops' Council

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

Members of the Archbishops’ Council

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

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

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

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver

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

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

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

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

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

Detailed results of the elections can be downloaded from here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 February 2016 at 7:54pm GMT | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Friday, 29 January 2016

General Synod agenda - press reports

Tim Wyatt Church Times Reform, sex talks, and Kirk on Synod’s agenda

John Bingham The Telegraph Dress-down Sundays: Church considers making clerical dress optional
[with reference to GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments]

Antony Bushfield Premier General Synod to focus on need for evangelism
Anglican talks on sexuality sometimes “painful”

BBC News Churches of England and Scotland publish report on proposed pact

Update

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican clergy could drop traditional dress in favour of casual clothing

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 29 January 2016 at 5:52pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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More and more Church of England members support same-sex marriage

Updated again Sunday morning

Harriet Sherwood has published in the Guardian a report headlined Church of England members back same-sex marriage.

Attitudes to same-sex marriage within the pews of the Church of England are sharply at odds with the stance of its leadership, as for the first time more Anglicans are in favour of gay and lesbian couples marrying than oppose it, according to a poll.

Support for same-sex marriage among church members has significantly increased over the past three years despite the leadership’s insistence that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and its refusal to conduct church weddings for gay couples or allow gay priests to marry…

…A poll conducted in the aftermath of the Canterbury meeting found 45% of people who define themselves as Church of England approve of same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who believe it is wrong. A similar survey three years ago found almost the reverse: 38% of Anglicans in favour and 47% opposed.

The lowest levels of support for same-sex marriage – 24% – were found among Anglican men over the age of 55, a group that dominates the church leadership. Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist within the C of E, who commissioned the poll from YouGov, said this finding was “deeply worrying”. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the profile of those in the senior positions of power and influence within the church,” she said.

The poll’s findings, released to the Guardian, are likely to amplify calls within the church for a change in its stance. Gay and lesbian activists say the church’s insistence on a traditional interpretation of scriptures alienates and excludes LGBT Christians, and further marginalises the church in wider society.

The survey found a clear generational difference among Church of England members, with almost three-quarters (72%) of under-35s in favour. There was a majority supporting same-sex marriage in all age groups under 55, but the figure dropped to fewer than one in three older Anglicans. More women than men believe same-sex marriage is right.

Support was largely consistent across different regions of England, contradicting assumptions that people living in London and other major cities are more liberal than others. There was also minimal variation across social class.

Church members in England are still lagging behind the general public, among whom a clear majority – 56% – support same-sex marriage, while 27% say they oppose it…

For more detail about this survey see press release here.

In particular, scroll down to pages 4 and 5 of the PDF for some graphics showing very clearly the shift in opinion over the past three years.

For more numbers:

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all Anglicans living in England go here.

For full results of 2016 poll amongst all respondents living within Great Britain go here.

The 2013 detailed results are on pages 13 and 14 of this rather large file.

Updates

There is extensive criticism of this poll at Psephizo The YouGov poll on same-sex marriage

But then again there is discussion of who is a member of the Church of England by Archdruid Eileen Are You Really Church of England?

Further media coverage:

BBC More Anglicans now back gay marriage than oppose it, poll suggests

Telegraph Anglicans ‘more likely to back gay marriage than oppose it’

Christian Today Support for same-sex marriage grows among CofE laity

Independent More Anglicans support gay marriage than oppose it, poll claims

Huffington Post Gay Marriage Support From Christians In The Church Of England Is Now Outstripping Opposition, New Poll Reveals

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The Columba Declaration and the Scottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report today.

Statement re Columba Declaration and Growth in Communion – Partnership in Mission Report
January 29, 2016

There was some publicity around Christmastime regarding the publication of the joint Columba Declaration by the Church of Scotland and Church of England. The provincial Faith and Order Board met recently and agreed that a short background note should be issued.

After the publication in 2010 of Our Fellowship in the Gospel by the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, a product of five year’s work, an invitation to join the Joint Study Group was issued to the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church was then involved in those new talks up until 2013. At that point, the other two churches expressed a desire to enter into a deeper ecumenical arrangement. The Faith and Order Board considered the matter carefully but did not believe it was appropriate to enter a tripartite “ecumenical” agreement where one of the parties was the Church of England because the Scottish Episcopal Church is already in full communion with the Church of England. The Board suggested instead that the three-way talks might continue, aimed not at forming an ecumenical agreement but rather at enriching common life and mission across the three churches. Therefore, it suggested alternative ways of proceeding on a tripartite basis.

However, the other two churches were keen to move towards some form of ecumenical agreement. It was at this point that the Scottish Episcopal Church ceased to be a full participant in the talks, albeit we were invited to appoint an observer, and duly did so. The then Convener of Inter-Church Relations Committee took on that role with his last involvement being at the final bilateral meeting in late 2014 where a draft of the report was under discussion.

A joint statement by the Church of Scotland and Church of England setting out the Columba Declaration (which forms only the final part of the report) was unexpectedly issued just before Christmas 2015, in response to a press query, and we became aware of this on Christmas Eve. The final form of the full report, however, was embargoed until the 29th January 2016.

Since the issue of that statement, we have been in direct contact with both the Church of Scotland and Church of England and have obtained a copy of the final report Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission. We have been able to ask a number of initial questions which have been helpfully answered jointly by the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

In the report it is stated that a response from the Scottish Episcopal Church would be welcomed. The Faith and Order Board at its meeting on 21st January agreed to remit the Scottish Episcopal Church’s detailed examination of the report to the Inter-Church Relations Committee and to ask that Committee to formulate a response for consideration by the Faith and Order Board in September 2016 (which will be the first meeting of the Board after this year’s Church of England Synod and the Church of Scotland General Assembly). This will include consideration of the concerns which the publication of the Columba Declaration, without the benefit of the full report, had prompted before Christmas. The Board believes that publication of Growth in Communion-Partnership in Mission now provides an opportunity to build on the warm relations which the Scottish Episcopal Church already enjoys with the Church of Scotland and very much looks forward to continuing discussions. The Board similarly looks forward to strengthening our relationship and mutual regard with the Church of England.

The report of the Church of Scotland and Church of England Joint Study Group can be read here.

A press release issued today by the Church of Scotland can be read here.

Our earlier coverage of the Columba Declaration is here, here and here.

The Church of England released the Report on the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016) today; the Columba Declaration comprises Chapter IV of the report.

The report will be debated at the Church of England’s General Synod on Tuesday 16 February; here is the relevant section of the agenda.

REPORT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND–CHURCH OF SCOTLAND JOINT STUDY GROUP (GS 2016)

10 Presentation under SO 107 by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Revd Dr Angus Morrison.

The Bishop of Chester (Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group) to move:

11 ‘That this Synod,
(a) welcome the report of the Joint Study Group of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (annexed to GS 2016) as a significant development in the relationship between the two churches;
(b) approve the Columba Declaration, consisting of mutual Acknowledgements and Commitments, as set out in paragraph 38 of the report; and
(c) request the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation of the Commitments contained in the Columba Declaration and set up the Contact Group proposed by it.’

The Report of the Synod’s Business Committee provides this comment.

Presentation from the Moderator of the Church of Scotland followed by a Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

24. The Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group was set up following the Synod debate on a previous report, Our Fellowship in the Gospel (GS 1792), in July 2010. The document it has produced has four parts, the first setting out important background, the second agreement in faith between the two churches, the third areas where they can grow in partnership for mission and the fourth the ‘Columba Declaration’ of shared Acknowledgements and Commitments. The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, will give a presentation outlining the significance of the proposed agreement between the churches before the Bishop of Chester, as Co-Chair of the Joint Study Group, introduces the debate.

The Church of Scotland has also issued a press release today: Landmark report on historic Ecumenical partnership plans published.

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Agenda for February 2016 General Synod

The Church of England’s usual pre-synod press release has been issued today, and is copied below.

The remainder of the papers have also been published online, and I have updated my list here.

Agenda for February 2016 General Synod
29 January 2016

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.30 pm on Monday 15 February until 5.00 pm on Wednesday 17 February. This will be the first full-length meeting of the newly-elected General Synod since its inauguration in November 2015.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here. The majority of the papers have been released today. A major theme of this group of sessions will be taking forward the next stages of the Archbishops’ Renewal and Reform initiative. On Wednesday 17 February the various Task Group leads will be giving an overview to Synod on their plans for the coming year. Specific items related to Renewal and Reform feature on the February agenda.

One key aspect of Renewal and Reform is the introduction of legislative changes to make it easier for parishes and dioceses to organise themselves to facilitate mission and growth. This is known as the Simplification work stream. On Monday 15 February legislation will come before Synod to simplify the Church’s rulebook to reduce regulatory burdens in the form of the Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure (GS2014). On Tuesday 16 February, Synod will be asked to endorse plans to introduce an ‘Enabling Measure’ to make it easier to update Church legislation in the future as required on an on-going basis (GS 2018).

On Wednesday 17 February there will be a debate on a motion on the Resourcing Ministerial Education work stream, another element of Renewal and reform. The motion and the accompanying paper sets out plans for new funding arrangements to boost the number of candidates for ministry and a strategy for the continuing enhancement of their quality and deployability (GS 2020). Immediately after this item, there will be a Take Note debate on a report from the Task Group on Resourcing the Future which sets out plans to reorganise the way that the Church distributes money centrally to focus it on driving growth and helping mission in the poorest communities (GS 2021). Linked to these initiatives, there will be a report from the Evangelism Task Group with examples of best practice with regards to Church growth and evangelism (GS 2015).

On Monday 15 February the Archbishop of Canterbury will be giving a Presidential Address which will include a Statement on the outcome of the recent Primates meeting in Canterbury. There will also be an update by the Archbishop’s Director for Reconciliation on the progress in the dioceses of the Shared Conversations on Spirituality, Scripture and Mission. Synod members will have an opportunity to ask questions on the presentation.

On Tuesday 16 February, the Rt Revd Dr Angus Morrison, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will give a presentation on the Report of the Church of England - Church of Scotland Joint Study Group (GS 2016). This will be followed by a debate on the Report introduced by the Bishop of Chester.

Synod will be debating three Diocesan Synod Motions, two of which are closely related. The first two DSMs from Worcester Diocesan Synod relate to Parochial fees and related costs for weddings and funerals (GS 2017A and 2017B). This will be taken together on Tuesday 16 February. On Wednesday 17 February there will be a Diocesan Synod Motion arising from Leeds Diocesan Synod on the ‘Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants’ (GS 2019A and GS2019B). A further Diocesan Synod Motion from Leeds Diocesan Synod on ‘Blood and Organ Donation’ (GS 2022A and GS2022B) is listed as contingency business.

ENDS

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

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Friday, 22 January 2016

February General Synod - online papers

The second circulation papers have now been added below.

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 15-17 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

More papers are scheduled for release on 29 January. There appear to be rather more of these than usual. I have included below all those mentioned in the agenda, and I will add links to them in due course.

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

GS 1953D - Amending Canon No.34 [Monday]

GS 2011 - Agenda

GS 2012 - Appointment of the Chair of the Dioceses Commission [Monday]

GS 2013 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 2014 - Draft Mission and Pastoral (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 2014x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2015 - Report from the Evangelism Task Group [Tuesday]

GS 2016 - Report of the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group [Tuesday]

GS 2017A and graph and GS 2017B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees [Tuesday]

GS 2018 - Proposed Enabling Measure [Tuesday]

GS 2019A and GS 2019B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants [Wednesday]

GS 2020 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing Ministerial Education [Wednesday]

GS 2021 - Renewal and Reform: Resourcing the Future [Wednesday]

GS 2022A and GS 2022B - Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ [contingency business]

Notice papers

Notice Paper 1
Notice Paper 2
Notice Paper 3

Other papers

GS Misc 1129 - Instructions regarding counted votes conducted by electronic means
GS Misc 1130 - The Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2015
GS Misc 1131 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions
GS Misc 1132 - Report on the Churches Together in England 2015 Forum
GS Misc 1133 - House of Bishops Consultation on Vestments
GS Misc 1134 - Update on Archbishop’s Council activities
GS Misc 1135 - Council for Christian Unity Annual Report
GS Misc 1136 - Central Stipends Authority Annual Report
Group work membership
Group work questions [Tuesday morning]

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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Church of England safeguarding audits

Press release today from the Church of England

Publication of pilot audits on safeguarding arrangements
14 January 2016

The outcomes of four pilot independent audits into safeguarding arrangements in the Church of England have been published today.

The dioceses of Blackburn, Durham, Portsmouth and Salisbury all volunteered to be part of the House of Bishops commissioned project to take a look at current safeguarding practice. The audits will now be rolled out across all other Church of England dioceses during 2016/17.

The independent audits were carried out by The Social Care Institute for Excellence, SCIE, a charity and leading improvement support agency specialising in safeguarding. SCIE has pioneered a particular collaborative approach to conducting case reviews and audits in child and adult safeguarding called Learning Together focusing on the reasons why things go well, the cause of any problems and solutions.

The audit process in each diocese involved examination of safeguarding leadership arrangements, local policies and practice guidance, the quality of case work, recruitment and training. The auditors also looked at the progress being made in reaching nationally agreed standards informed by central House of Bishops approved policies.

The National Safeguarding Team has welcomed the pilot overview report and considerations for its future work.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding said: “These audits are part of our commitment to making the Church a safer place for all, ensuring that all dioceses have the best possible practice in place. I commend the four dioceses, including my own, which came forward to be pilots as it is not easy to be the first under the spotlight. We all have lessons to learn. The audits show how each diocese can improve while also commending good practice that is already in place.

“Our policies and practice must start from the place of seeking the very best for all. This includes them being survivor-informed. SCIE’s experience in safeguarding will help us to do that. We have published these pilot audits as we are committed to being open about where we have got it wrong and where we need to improve. The pilot process will also inform further improvements in the auditing process itself for the next round. The audits, both individually, and as a whole, will form an important part of our work as the National Inquiry gets underway.

We must always remember that safeguarding exists to enable the Church to ensure that the vast range of work with children, young people, the elderly, disabled and all people are the very best that they can be for everyone who wants to be involved.”

Tony Hunter, SCIE chief executive said: “SCIE commends the Church of England for taking such a proactive approach to auditing their safeguarding policies and practice. It’s so important that influential organisations - such as the Church - recognise their role in safeguarding children and adults. SCIE auditors were impressed by the openness of staff in the four pilot areas, and their willingness to share and learn. We look forward to continuing to work with the Church of England as we support rollout of their audit process across all dioceses.”

Anyone who is affected by a safeguarding issue, particularly in light of today’s reports, should feel free to come forward in confidence and they will be listened to. Details of how to report concerns and find support can be found here.

Links and contact details are below the fold.

Notes

More information on SCIE

Report on Blackburn Diocese audit

Report on Durham Diocese audit

Report on Portsmouth Diocese audit

Report on Salisbury Diocese audit

Pilot overview report

Contacts

Church of England national office - 020 7898 1326 / out of hours 07774 800212

Blackburn Diocese - Ronnie Semley email 01254 503416

Durham Diocese - Keith Blundy email 07900 583131

Portsmouth Diocese - Neil Pugmire email 02392 899673

Salisbury Diocese - Gerry Lynch email 01722 438652 / mobileb 07799 900610.

SCIE - Iris Steen email

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Church of England publishes 2014 attendance statistics

Updated Tuesday evening

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2014 today with an accompanying press release, copied below. The statistics mainly cover numbers attending, but there are also figures on, for example, numbers joining and leaving (with reasons), electoral numbers, baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

The statistics can be downloaded from here as a 58 page pdf file.

Church Publishes 2014 Attendance Statistics
12 January 2016

New Church of England statistics for 2014 published today show that just under one million people attend services each week. The survey, carried out over four weeks in October 2014, found 980,000 people attending church each week, with 830,000 adults and 150,000 children.

The statistics also show that 2.4 million attended a Church of England Church at Christmas in 2014 and 1.3 million people attended a service at Easter. Additionally, 2.2 million people attended special Advent services for the congregation and local community whilst 2.6 million attended special Advent services for civic organisations and schools.

The statistics also highlight the other services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. In 2014 the Church carried out just under 1,000 weddings, 2,000 baptisms, and almost 3,000 funerals every week of the year. Some 12% of births during 2014 were marked by a Church of England infant baptism or thanksgiving service whilst 31% of deaths were marked by a Church of England funeral.

As a whole the figures represent a continuing trend which has shown a 12% decrease in attendance over the past decade with an average decline of just over 1% a year.

Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, said:

“The 2014 figures are not in any way a surprise. Whilst the recent trend of the past decade continues, it has been anticipated and is being acted on radically.

“As part of a prayerful and considered response to these trends the Church is embarking upon the biggest renewal and reform process in over 150 years focusing our resources on prayer, evangelism, discipleship, vocations, leadership & training.

“We do not expect that trend to change imminently or immediately over the next few years due to demographics. We lose approximately 1% of our churchgoers to death each year. Given the age profile of the CofE, the next few years will continue to have downward pressure as people die or become housebound and unable to attend church.

“As a Church we are unashamedly committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ in our worship of God, discipleship and service to the poor and the marginalised. Our confidence, resilience and service is rooted in Jesus.

“The story is not one of inevitable decline. During 2013-14 some dioceses continued to increase their attendance. In the past 12 months alone there are examples of growth and new churches across the country. In my own diocese the church of St. Thomas Norwich has grown from 50 to 450 people in the past two years. In Bournemouth, St Swithin’s - a church which started in 2014 - now sees 500 people attending every week whilst in Birmingham St Luke’s Gas Street in is already attracting hundreds of young people since its beginning in 2015. There are many others like these and each is a sign of hope.

“Attendance statistics do not tell the whole story. There are many things that churches do that are not included in these data from running homelessness services and hosting foodbanks, to educating a million children a day in our schools to providing welcome and accompaniment to the least, the last and the lost in our society.”

Update

Mark Hart looks at the figures for the diocese of London: Capital Growth or Northern Powerhouse?.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England attendance plunges to record low

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England weekly attendance falls below 1m for first time

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England weekly attendance falls below one million for first time

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Media coverage of the open letter to the archbishops

Updated Monday morning

There is a comprehensive set of links to media coverage of the letter over here.

Earlier items in previous article [scroll down]

BBC Sunday radio programme available here.
‘Last roll of the dice’ for the Anglican communion – item on Good Disagreement book from 18:25, item on Letter from 29:16

Also a short video report by Caroline Wyatt is here: Church ‘should repent’ over treatment of gay Anglicans

And a BBC World Service extended news report [starts about 5 minutes in] including comments from Bishop of Leeds Nick Baines, retired Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, and Jayne Ozanne

Guardian Harriet Sherwood Senior Anglicans call for repentance over sexual discrimination

Telegraph Patrick Foster Church must repent for ‘treating gays like second-class citizens’

Michael Sadgrove Gay Anglicans and the Primates’ Meeting: the open letter

Brother Ivo Why I signed the Letter to the Archbishops

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Open letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York

An open letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, signed by 105 Church of England members including many senior figures.

More information, and the full list of signatories, is at this website including a press release which is also copied below the fold.

The website also provides an opportunity for anybody who wishes to do so to add their signature to the letter.

The full text of the letter is as follows.

The Rt Hon and Most Revd Justin Welby
The Rt Hon and Most Revd Dr John Sentamu

January 7th 2016

Your Graces

We the undersigned ask you, our Archbishops, to take an unequivocal message to your meeting of fellow Primates next week that the time has now come for:

  • Acknowledgement that we, the Church, have failed in our duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world. We have not loved them as we should, and have treated them as a problem to be solved rather than as brothers and sisters in Christ to be embraced and celebrated. We have made them feel second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, often abandoned and alone.
  • Repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and for the pain and rejection that this has caused. We, the Church, need to apologise for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs about LGBTI people, such as the slanderous view that homosexuals have a predisposition to prey on the young.

We understand that the Primates come from a variety of contexts with differing ways of interpreting the Scriptures, but we urge you to be prophetic in your action and Christ-like in your love towards our LGBTI sisters and brothers who have been ignored and even vilified for too long.

Please be assured of our prayers for you at this time, and that the world will know by our words and actions that everyone who is baptised into the faith is of equal value in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely

PRESS RELEASE – January 10th 2016
SENIOR CHURCH FIGURES URGE CHURCH REPENTANCE FOR ‘SECOND CLASS CITIZENSTREATMENT ON SEXUALITY

Over 100 Senior Anglicans, including the Dean of St Paul’s, have signed an open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York calling on the Church of England to repent of its ‘second class citizen’ treatment of Christians over issues of sexuality.

The letter, signed by a range of senior church figures including Cathedral Deans, retired bishops and well-known lay figures (including leading parliamentary figures and university academics), has been sent to the Archbishops ahead of a pivotal meeting of worldwide Anglican Leaders which begins in Canterbury on Monday.

In the letter, the 105 signatories call on the Church to acknowledge its failure to care for LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world, and to repent of its acceptance and promotion of discrimination - especially its failure to challenge harmful beliefs about sexuality. It goes on to ask the Primates to act in Christ-like love ‘towards those who have been ignored and vilified for too long’.

The signatories include eight retired bishops and a serving bishop, the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. Another prominent signatory is the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, who says that, in all the debate, the personal cost has often been forgotten:

‘I believe that it’s imperative for us to remember that whilst we seek to engage honestly, lovingly and respectfully with our differences of context and scriptural interpretation, our discussions are actually about the lives of sisters and brothers who have often been rejected and victimised on the grounds of their sexuality. The Church should be the first place that they feel they can come to, to find love and acceptance rather than judgement.’

The signatories include both clergy and lay people. Prominent gay Christian, Vicky Beeching, who came out in 2014 and faced significant discrimination from Christians across the world, urges the Church to think of its younger members:

‘Social and religious attitudes are shifting among young people. Many cannot morally align themselves with a Church that perpetuates LGBT discrimination. If we want to ensure the future life of our Church this issue needs urgent attention and great pastoral sensitivity. To see the Church repent of damaging attitudes would help many young people feel a reconnection with it.’

The letter, which goes on to assure the Archbishops of prayers for the Canterbury meeting, has been coordinated by Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, who is keen to stress that support has come from a broad range of individuals across the church.

‘The signatories come from across the full breadth of the Anglican traditions, and from right across the country. From the Dean of Truro to the Dean of Carlisle, and from the MP for Exeter to the Master of Trinity Hall at Cambridge University and the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford University. It is so encouraging to see so many senior Anglicans now standing alongside their LGBTI brothers and sisters, recognising their woeful treatment by the Church to date.’

She added that the church had no excuse for its failure to care:

‘In 1998 the worldwide Anglican Church committed itself to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals. Despite this commitment the plight of many LGBTI Christians around the world has got worse. The consequence is that we are now increasingly perceived as irredeemably “anti-gay” by an increasing number of people who simply don’t understand why the church continues to discriminate, nor why it is allowed to do so. Until we repent of our treatment of our LGBTI brothers and sisters, attempts by those within the worldwide Church to conduct meaningful “conversations” will risk appearing hollow and insincere’.

ENDS

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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Columba Declaration

We reported on the proposed agreement between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England set out in the Columba Declaration here and on the response of the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church here.

This week’s Church Times carries an article by Tim Wyatt on the agreement and the controversy it has provoked: Scottish Episcopalians query Columba Declaration. To this is attached an article by the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, who was the Church of England co-chair of the study group that produced the declaration. In it he sets out the background to the study group’s report and the declaration.

Dr Forster’s article is also available on the Church of England’s blog: Growth in communion, partnership in mission.

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Thursday, 7 January 2016

General Synod elections - chairs of house and others

Members of the new General Synod of the Church of England have been electing chairs of houses and members of various committees. There is a list of the results so far here, including these.

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

Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York
The Ven Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale (Manchester)

Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Dr Jamie Harrison (Durham)

Vice-Chair of the House of Laity
Canon Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield)

There are more results to come.

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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Peter Ball: letters of support released

The Crown Prosecution Service has released a number of letters written years ago in support of Bishop Peter Ball. This is because of a Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph newspaper.

The released documents are here.

The Telegraph news report is here: Establishment figures who helped disgraced bishop avoid prosecution for sex abuse revealed

Another news report by the BBC is here: Letters of support for sex offender ex-bishop Peter Ball released

And the Guardian has this: Archbishop and MPs wrote in support of bishop later convicted of sexual offences

Daily Mail Abuse bishop escaped prosecution after being backed by two Archbishops, a judge and Tory MPs including David Cameron’s godfather

There is a press release from the Church of England which is available here: Statement on Peter Ball letters released under FOI

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church comments on Columba Declaration

In response to the reported agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has written two articles, which need to be read together:

The Columba Declaration – ecumenical relationships in Scotland

…But the aspect of the Columba Declaration which will cause most concern to the Scottish Episcopal Church is the potential involvement of the Church of England in the ecclesiastical life of Scotland. The Church of England is not a Scottish Church nor does it have any jurisdiction in Scotland. The Anglican way is to recognise the territorial integrity of each province – they are autonomous but inter-dependent, The important question is whether, within that understanding of the relationship between provinces of the Anglican Communion, it is proper for the Church of England to enter into this agreement about ministry and ecclesiastical order in Scotland.. That is a matter which will have to be explored in future dialogue between the Scottish Episcopal Church and both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

Columba Declaration – time for a rethink

…The question here is not whether the development of ecumenical relationships is desirable – for of course it is. The question is about whether that development can take place respectfully and in good order. The Scottish Episcopal Church now seems to be faced with the possibility that Church of England clergy will minister in Scotland under the authorisation of the Church of Scotland and without reference to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Yet the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church are partner members of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion in Scotland is expressed in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England seem to have decided that their commonality as National Churches justifies them in setting aside other ecumenical relationships and etiquette. What would really help this situation – mitigating the damage already done to long-established relationships and avoiding further damage – would be for the two churches to decide to delay publication of the full document to allow time for consultation.

I appeal to them to do so…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 December 2015 at 11:11am GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Harriet Sherwood interviews Jeremy Davies

Harriet Sherwood has another major article today. In The Guardian Saturday interview she writes about Married gay priest Jeremy Davies: ‘The bishops say we’re not modelling teachings of the church. Yes we are’.

This is a long article, but do read all of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 December 2015 at 11:35am GMT | Comments (59) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 December 2015

C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

This is the lead story on the front page of tomorrow’s The Guardian.

Harriet Sherwood C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

The Church of England is to fast-track black and ethnic minority clergy into senior positions amid accusations of institutional racism.

A “talent pool” of specifically black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) potential leaders will be identified in 2016 for training and mentoring with the aim of increasing representation among bishops, deans and archdeacons…

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 December 2015 at 10:50pm GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an "historic agreement"

Updated Thursday evening to add statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church

Press release from the Church of England and the Church of Scotland this morning

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an historic agreement
24 December 2015

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England have reached an historic agreement that recognises their longstanding ecumenical partnership and lays the groundwork for future joint projects.

The agreement called The Columba Declaration is set out in a 15-page report by the Joint Study Group “Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission”.

Rev Dr John McPake, co-chair of the study group and one of the authors of the report, said

“The Columba Declaration recognises the strong partnership that already exists and will help encourage and support new initiatives.

“We believe that approval of the Columba Declaration by our two churches will represent a significant step in the long history of their relationship, one that affirms the place we have come to and opens up new possibilities for the future.”

Arranged into four chapters, the report sets out the history of partnership between the two churches and the shared beliefs that allow for close cooperation between the churches, before exploring how the partnership could grow.

This year the churches established the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union as a response to concerns that low-income families needed access to low -cost banking and loans. And that’s just one of the areas where the two churches already are collaborating.

The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council and the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs talk regularly about everything from poverty to refugees. As well as recognising one another’s ministers, the churches exchange views on ministry and come together for example on initiatives such as Fresh Expressions. The Church of Scotland also sends a representative to the General Synod while the Church of England sends a representative to the General Assembly.

In a joint statement prefacing the report, joint study group co-chairs Rev Dr John McPake and Rt Rev Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester write:

“Our hope is that joint affirmation by our two churches of the Columba Declaration would:

Affirm and strengthen our relationship at a time when it is likely to be particularly critical in the life of the United Kingdom;

Provide an effective framework for coordinating present partnership activities and for fostering new initiatives;

Enable us to speak and act together more effectively in the face of the missionary challenges of our generation.”

The report emphasises that joint ecumenical work should also include other churches and especially the Episcopal Church of Scotland [sic] and the United Reformed Church. At the same time it acknowledges the “distinctive partnership in the gospel to which our two Churches are called within the United Kingdom, rooted in our shared history and in our parallel and overlapping roles as the churches of our respective nations.”

The report will now go to the Church of England’s Synod in February and by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May for approval. A debate is scheduled at the Synod on Feb 16, 2016.

Here’s the full text from the report of the Columba Declaration

THE COLUMBA DECLARATION

38. In the light of our common mission and context (chapter 1), our agreement in faith (chapter 2) and our significant opportunities for growing in partnership in mission (chapter 3), we recommend that our churches make the following Declaration.

We, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, make the following acknowledgements and commitments, which are interrelated.

a) Acknowledgements

(i) We acknowledge one another’s churches as churches belonging to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and truly participating in the apostolic ministry and mission of the whole people of God.

(ii) We acknowledge that in both our churches the word of God is truly preached, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion are rightly administered.

(iii) We acknowledge that both our churches share in the common confession of the apostolic faith.

(iv) We acknowledge that one another’s ordained ministries of word and sacraments are given by God as instruments of grace and we look forward to a time when growth in communion can be expressed in fuller unity that makes possible the interchangeability of ministers.

(v) We acknowledge that personal, collegial and communal oversight (episkope) is embodied and exercised in our churches in a variety of forms, as a visible sign expressing and serving the Church’s unity and continuity in apostolic life, mission and ministry.

b) Commitments

We commit ourselves to grow together in communion and to strengthen our partnership in mission. Through this commitment, we hope to enrich our continuing relationships with other churches in the United Kingdom and around the world. We will welcome opportunities to draw other churches into the activities and initiatives that we share.

As part of that commitment, we will continue to:

(i) pray for and with one another;
(ii) welcome one another’s members to each other’s worship as guests and receive one another’s members into the congregational life of each other’s churches where that is their desire;
(iii) explore opportunities for congregational partnership, formal as well as informal, in those cases where there are churches in close geographical proximity;
(iv) enable ordained ministers from one of our churches to exercise ministry in the other church, in accordance with the discipline of each church;
(vi) identify theological issues that arise from growth towards fuller communion and be prepared to allocate resources to addressing them;
(vii) work together on social, political and ethical issues that arise from our participation in public life and be prepared to allocate resources to joint initiatives for addressing them.

In order to assist our churches in living out the acknowledgements and commitments of the Columba Declaration, we will appoint Co-Chairs and members of a Church of Scotland - Church of England Contact Group, whose purpose will be to coordinate the different activities that make up our rich relationship and develop new initiatives where these may be needed. The Contact Group will meet at least annually and will report annually to the Council for Christian Unity in the Church of England and the Committee on Ecumenical Relations in the Church of Scotland.

[This text is copied from the Church of England website (which has no hyperlinks) with links taken from the Church of Scotland website. - editor]

———

Some press reports

John Bingham Telegraph Church of England and Church of Scotland forge pact

BBC News Churches of Scotland and England reach first formal pact

———

Update

The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this statement today:

Response to Columba Declaration
December 24, 2015

A spokesperson for the Scottish Episcopal Church says “We have noted the announcement today about the Columba Declaration agreed between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

“We welcome the opportunity for the further ecumenical discussion referred to in today’s press statement and look forward to being able to consider the full text of the report when we receive this. We fully understand the desire of the Church of Scotland and the Church of England as national churches to discuss and explore matters of common concern. However certain aspects of the report which appear to go beyond the relationship of the two churches as national institutions cause us concern. The Scottish Episcopal Church, as a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, represents Anglicanism in Scotland, and we will therefore look forward to exploring the suggestions within the report more fully in due course.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 December 2015 at 11:16am GMT | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Monday, 21 December 2015

Martyn Percy interviewed on BBC radio programmes

Updated Thursday

Following the publication last week of his essay – Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans – the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, and a Vice President of Modern Church, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme…

For more details of this interview, and another one on BBC Radio Wiltshire, dealing mainly with the case of Canon Jeremy Davies, see Modern Church vice president responds to unchallenged homophobia on Radio 4 Sunday programme.

Thursday Update

Following the Radio 4 broadcast, there were numerous complaints to the BBC about what one of the participants had said, and the failure of the interviewer to challenge him on it. Those who complained have all received the following response from the BBC:

Many thanks for getting in touch with us about an item on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” programme on 20 December. Recognising your unhappiness, we have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.

To explain, the discussion in question was broadcast in response to an essay written by the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, on the debate within the Anglican Communion about the treatment of LGBT Christians.

“Sunday” is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed. As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.

We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.

We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast. As was explained in the programme, “Sunday” will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.

Thanks again for getting in touch and allowing us to clarify.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Another article on Anglican Mainstream from Chris Sugden, published on the same day as the broadcast, also deals with this matter: Background to the Uganda Bill on aggravated homosexuality

It is becoming clear that in the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering, further pressure will be brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states that funds for their education and health budgets will be removed if the laws are not changed. To this call is now being added calls from the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups.
At this Christmas season, where would Jesus be found – in the courts of the rich and powerful intimidating and bullying the poor for whom their families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Kabare in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.
There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic to which this article addresses itself…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 December 2015 at 10:18pm GMT | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 December 2015

February 2016 General Synod - outline timetable

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 22 January 2016.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2016 GROUP OF SESSIONS

Timetable

Monday 15 February

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Opening Worship
Presentation of officers (Prolocutors of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity)

Report by the Business Committee

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No 34
Mission and Pastoral etc (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration

Initial presentation on the Shared Conversations followed by Q&A

*5.45 pm Questions

7.00 pm Evening worship

Tuesday 16 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Worship in small groups followed by Group Work on Evangelism

11.30 am Presentation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chair of the Evangelism Task Group, followed by a ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Evangelism Task Group

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Presentation from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees

*5.30 pm Motion on the proposed Enabling Measure

7.00 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 17 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion

10.45 am Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants

Update on Renewal and Reform – (Presentation by Task Group Leads followed by Q&A)

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing Ministerial Education: debate on a motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing the Future: ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Archbishops’ Council

5.00 pm Farewells

*5.15 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ Donation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 December 2015 at 5:41pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Resolution of Disputes

In June I reported here on a consultation on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure that is part of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishop and Priests. I also linked here to David Pocklington’s review of the consultation paper for Law & Religion UK.

This week the Church of England has published these two documents on the Operation of the procedure.

Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure: Response to the Consultation
Independent Reviewer: Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure (December 2015)

David Pocklington has written about both for Law & Religion UK here: CofE: Resolution of Disputes Procedure.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 December 2015 at 11:50am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Andrew Tremlett to be next Dean of Durham

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Durham: Andrew Tremlett

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 17 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett to be appointed Dean of Durham.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett, MA, MPhil, PGCCE, Canon of Westminster, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Durham, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, MA, on 31 December 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Canon Andrew Tremlett (aged 51) was Curate at Torquay, St Matthias, St Mark and Holy Trinity in the diocese of Exeter, from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 1994 he was Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers, and Assistant Chaplain in Rotterdam, in the diocese of Europe, and from 1994 to 1995 he was Chaplain. From 1995 to 1998 he was Team Vicar at Fareham Holy Trinity with St Columba in Portsmouth diocese. From 1998 to 2003 he was Chaplain to the Bishop of Portsmouth, and also a Parliamentary Research Assistant and Secretary to the Church of England’s Doctrine Commission. From 2003 to 2008 he was Vicar of Goring-by-Sea in Chichester diocese. From 2008 to 2010 he was Canon Residentiary and Keeper of the Fabric at Bristol Cathedral; from June 2009 to May 2010 he was Acting Dean of the Cathedral.

Since 2010 he has been Canon Residentiary and Rector of St Margaret’s Church at Westminster Abbey. He has been responsible for the Abbey’s relationships with Parliament, Whitehall and other faith communities, and in 2012 established the Westminster Abbey Institute which works with Public Service Institutions around Parliament Square to support ethics in public life. In June 2014 he became Archdeacon of Westminster and Sub-Dean of the Abbey. Since 2013 he has been Chairman of the Field Lane Foundation, a charitable housing association working particularly with adults with complex needs, and in 2015 became a Trustee of the Mission to Seafarers.

Andrew Tremlett is married to Ali, a teacher and trained painter and decorator. They have a daughter and 2 sons. Andrew Tremlett enjoys languages and has been studying Arabic at SOAS as well as on sabbatical in Jerusalem in 2014. He is a keen photographer and long-distant runner.

Durham diocesan website: Andrew Tremlett named as next Dean of Durham

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 10:18am GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Reactions to Winchester banning of married clergyman

There have been a lot of people writing letters to the Bishop of Winchester to complain about his refusal to issue a Permission to Officiate to the retired priest, Jeremy Davies.

Three of the most thoughtful articles about this matter are these:

Rachel Mann An Open Christmas Letter to Bishop Tim Dakin. Do read it all the way through. Here’s the last bit:

I pray to God that your decision was not an easy one. (Although, if it was, I hope you have pause to ask ‘Why?’ in the weeks to come. Surely any decision that can have costly emotional and personal fallout for others should not be taken from the safety of ‘due process’ and ‘best legal advice’.) I also think that these might be quite difficult weeks ahead for you. Even with the most robust sense of self, negative press is wearing.

I know it’s tempting in such circumstances to attempt to rework this emotional distress into a kind of positive; that is, into an opportunity to participate in Christ’s woundedness and sufferings. To ‘play’ a part that saves us from moral culpability or villainy. You may well do this and I’m hardly in a position to argue you shouldn’t do that. We all work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

But – I hope you can forgive my boldness – may I commend another aspect to consider? In those distressing moments I think you will have (my constructed version of you, my hopeful version of you, thinks you will have them) I ask you to pause and pray. To think of Jeremy and Simon. To not lose sight of their human being and their particularity and their distress. And though (I admit my limitation here) I don’t think your distress is exactly commensurate (you being a bishop with all the privilege that goes with that etc.) I hope there may be a conversion to ‘the other’ in the mysteries of prayer and distress. The theatre of Tragedy, after all, reminds us that there is some knowledge that only comes through pain and wounds. And the Christian story reminds us that tragedy is very close to comedy; to the possibility of a world in which wounds are bound and the falsely imprisoned set free.

Forgive me. I get carried away. Especially at Christmas. Christmas is so very cheesy, but it can still startle me in the most extraordinary way. The Christ-child always reminds me that God comes among us not with clever arguments or theological constructions, but as that most fragile and defenceless thing, a baby. His only power is to elicit love. The encounter we make with God in the Christ-child is beyond the obvious delights of reason. It is in our shared humanity and holy simplicity. A thousand theological and political arguments come crashing down in Bethlehem on that Holy Night.

So may you have a blessed Christmas, Tim. But also, - along with Canon Jeremy, his husband Simon, me, and everyone who is simply trying to get on with being faithful and hopeful – a disrupting one. Where the Saviour without Safety pulls down the walls between us and we can never be the same again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because here’s the thing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Harrison to be next Bishop of Dunwich

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich: Michael Robert Harrison

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

Mike writes:

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

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

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

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

Martyn Snow to be next Bishop of Leicester

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Leicester: Martyn James Snow

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

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

Church of England criticised by survivor of sexual abuse

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

An abuse survivor’s tale

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

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

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

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

Statement on Freedom of Expression and the Lord’s Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Married clergyman banned in Winchester

Updated Sunday evening

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

Salisbury canon banned from preaching in Winchester over gay marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates

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

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

Commission on Religion & Belief in British Public Life

Updated Monday afternoon and evening, Tuesday evening, Friday evening

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

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

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

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

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

d) make recommendations for public life and policy.

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

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

press reports

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

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

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

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

reactions to the report

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

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

Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Lightbown Some issues with Butler-Sloss

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

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

Church of England press release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ends

Blog by Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer

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

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Saturday, 5 December 2015

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

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

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

The article begins:

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

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

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

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

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Friday, 4 December 2015

Post General Synod round-up

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

There are a number of videos of Synod business here.

The December issue of InReview includes reports from Synod.

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

press reports

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

some blogs

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

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

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Synod election turnout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Karen Gorham to be next Bishop of Sherborne

Press release from Number 10

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

General Synod - day 2 of 2

Updated Thursday morning

Business on Wednesday 25 November

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

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

Archbishop of York’s Climate Change Presentation at Synod

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

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

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

General Synod backs work to help vulnerable refugees
25 November 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

General Synod - day 1 of 2

Updated Wednesday morning and evening

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

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

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

Reports from the afternoon

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

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Monday, 23 November 2015

pre-General Synod press reports and blogs

Updated Monday evening

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

The questions and answers have been published this morning.

Here are some recent online articles.

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

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

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

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

“That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1997, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”

Update

Stephen Lynas We’ve only just begun…

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 23 November 2015 at 9:27am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 22 November 2015

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

Updated again Monday morning

The official press release with this headline is here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Towards the end of the article there is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updates

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

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

Some further media coverage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to a new article this morning in the Daily Mail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, 16 November 2015

Affirming Catholicism on the Seal of Confession

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

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

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Friday, 13 November 2015

Church Times reports and comments on CNC document

See previous article here.

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

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

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

And, it later continues:

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

Read it all.

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Church of England Financial Overview 2004-13

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

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

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

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

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

The report also reveals:

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

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

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

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

Notes

The report is available to download here.

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

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

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Jeremy Pemberton case and what it means

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 3:01pm GMT | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 8 November 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Anglican Catholic Future: Statement on the Seal of Confession

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Employment Tribunal rules against Jeremy Pemberton

Updated yet again Thursday teatime

The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham has issued this press release

Employment tribunal finds in favour of Bishop

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

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

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

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

The Claimant’s lawyers have issued this statement:

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

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

Updates

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

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

Four Three blog articles in response:

Initial press coverage of this case:

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

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

Newark Advertiser Jeremy Pemberton loses discrimination case

Nottingham Post Gay priest not discriminated against, employment tribunal rules

Guardian Gay hospital chaplain loses discrimination case against CofE

BBC Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against

ITV Gay clergyman loses discrimination claim at employment tribunal

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

Telegraph Hospital chaplain loses gay marriage tribunal against Church of England

Christian Today Gay priest who married partner loses employment discrimination claim

Lincolnshire Echo Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton was not discriminated against

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Saturday, 31 October 2015

European church leaders consult on refugee crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, 30 October 2015

November General Synod - online papers

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

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

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

GS 2005 - Agenda

GS 2006 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

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

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

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

GS 2010 - Standing Orders (October 2015)

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

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

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

GS Misc 1127 - Released for Mission

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

Members’ Resources

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

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

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

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
30 October 2015

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod

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

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

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

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

Synod membership

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 24 November

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

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

Wednesday 25 November

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

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

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

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

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

Ends

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 30 October 2015 at 11:11am GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Tax credits and the bishops

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

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

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

There were three bishops who spoke:

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

  • Division 1: The amendment to the motion declining to approve the Regulations was rejected: 99 for and 310 against [Bishop of Chester, Not Content; Archbishop of York, Not Content].
  • Division 2: The amendment to the motion seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until a report has been produced addressing the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis of the Regulations and their impact was agreed: 307 for and 277 against [Bishops of Chester and Portsmouth, Content; Archbishop of York, Content].
  • Division 3: Their Lordships agreed, by 289 for and 272 against, an amendment seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until consultation and a report to Parliament on the provision of full transactional protection for a minimum of three years for all low-income families and individuals currently receiving tax credits before 5 April 2016 has been completed, such transitional protection to be renewable after three years with parliamentary approval [Archbishop of York, Content; Bishop of Chester, Not Content].
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 at 3:23pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Forward in Faith defends the Seal of the Confessional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The submission may be read here.

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Thursday, 22 October 2015

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

The Church of England issued the following statement today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+Martin

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

At risk church buildings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 21 October 2015 at 11:12am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis - update

Updated

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

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

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

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

Update

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

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Saturday, 17 October 2015

CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

The full text of the letter follows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, 16 October 2015

General Synod election results update

Update - northern deans now listed

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

How to manage CofE church buildings

Updated Friday and Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

Welcoming the opening of the consultation, Bishop John said:

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

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

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

Notes:

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

Press reports

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

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

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

Updates

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

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

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

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

Ian Paul Talking (non)sense about rural mission

Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, 10 October 2015

General Synod election results

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

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

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

There are official lists of successful candidates here.

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Peter Ball sentenced

Updated Thursday

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

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

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

The Church of England issued this statement.

Statement on the sentencing of Peter Ball
07 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press reports

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

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

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

Update

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

Comments are closed for this article.

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Monday, 5 October 2015

Independent review of Peter Ball case announced

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

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

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

Press Release text is here.

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

Archbishop Commissions Review of Peter Ball Case

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments are closed for this article.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

New Fire in London

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

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

Also available here.

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"Good Lord, deliver us from successful bishops"

Updated

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

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

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

The full text is available here.

The key passage reads:

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Bishop of Maidstone

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

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

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SSWSH: A Catholic Life in the Church of England

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

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

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

In the Society’s own words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, 25 September 2015

November General Synod - timetable

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

GENERAL SYNOD NOVEMBER 2015 TIMETABLE

Monday 23 November
Induction of new and returning members

Tuesday 24 November
am Inauguration of the Synod

2.45 pm – 7.15 pm

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

*5.40 pm Questions

Wednesday 25 November

9.30 am – 1pm

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

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

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

2.30 pm – 4.30 pm

2.30 pm Debate on a Report from Church Buildings Review Group

*4.00 pm Farewell

4.30 pm Prorogation

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

*=not later than

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

General Synod - diocesan candidates

Updated Friday

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

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

Update

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

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

Christine Hardman's election as Bishop of Newcastle confirmed

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

Confirmation of Election Service for the 12th Bishop of Newcastle

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

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

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

Petition calls for Bishop of Sodor and Man to resign

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

The Manx media picked up the story earlier this week.

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

Manx Radio Petition calls for bishop’s resignation

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

Adrian Darbyshire Isle of Man Today Bishop recovering from heart attack

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

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

General Synod elections 2015 - candidates' election addresses

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

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

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

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

SSWSH statement on Communion and Catholicity

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

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

According to the SSWSH website:

The statement explains

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Bishop Peter Ball pleads guilty

The Church of England issued this press release today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes
Sussex Police statement

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

Press reports

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

BBC News Former bishop Peter Ball admits sex offences

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

Comments are closed for this article.

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

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Grantham: Nicholas Alan Chamberlain

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

His interests include music, reading, running and cycling.

The Lincoln diocesan website has New Bishop of Grantham Announced.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 8 September 2015 at 10:37am BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Faith leaders unite to oppose Assisted Dying Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End

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

Assisted Dying Bill, 11th September 2015

To all Members of Parliament,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full list of signatories:

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 6 September 2015 at 3:44pm BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Church leaders comment on the refugee crisis

Updated again Tuesday morning

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop of Canterbury on the refugee crisis

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

The Bishop of Leeds Refugee crisis in Europe

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

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

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

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

The Archbishop of York Seeking Sanctuary

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

And also this list from around the Anglican Communion.

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 September 2015 at 11:57pm BST | Comments (35) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Next Bishop of Newcastle announced

Updated Thursday

Press release from Number 10

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

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

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

Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

Update

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

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

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

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

Acting Principal, the Rev’d Emma Rothwell said:

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

Acting Vice-Principal Charles Read added:

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 2 September 2015 at 10:20am BST | Comments (44) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Simplifying Church Legislation

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Cathedral Statistics 2014

Updated Thursday and Friday

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

Cathedrals in England welcome over 10 million annually
19 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Notes:

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

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

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

View the Cathedral Research and Statistics Report here.

Thursday Update

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

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

Aaron James Premier 10 million visited cathedrals in 2014

Friday update

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

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 at 3:00pm BST | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Readers, PTO and canon law

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

The title is Readers, pastoral guidance and canon law.

He summarises the ecclesiastical law position thus:

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 at 1:09pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 16 August 2015

BBC Sunday programme interviews Jeremy Timm

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 16 August 2015 at 12:42pm BST | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Jeremy Timm: further comment and reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremy will continue to have my full support.

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

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 6:06pm BST | Comments (32) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Jeremy Timm "PTO to be withdrawn"

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

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

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

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

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 8:02am BST | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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Monday, 10 August 2015

Report from Independent Reviewer on All Saints, Cheltenham

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

Forward in Faith has issued this statement.

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

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 10 August 2015 at 1:35pm BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Sunday Trading: should there be changes?

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

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

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

See these news reports:

And see these blog articles:

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Fruits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely

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

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Church views on the Calais refugee crisis

Updated

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

Now replaced by Show more compassion to migrants, urge bishops

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

Other recent commentators include:

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

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Friday, 31 July 2015

First report from Independent Reviewer: Chrism Masses

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

First report from Independent Reviewer
31 July 2015

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

CofE Finance Statistics for 2013

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

There is an accompanying press release.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The press release also includes some case studies.

Some earlier parish finance statistics are available here.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Everyone Counts 2014

Updated Friday

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

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

If congregations in England were 100 people:

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

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

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

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

Update

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

Statement on ‘Everyone Counts’ survey
24 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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Rachel Treweek and Sarah Mullally consecrated bishops


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, 20 July 2015

General Synod elections 2015

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

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

Election Rules of the Three Houses
Guidance for Dioceses

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

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

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

3 Closing date for nominations - Friday 4th September

4 Issue of voting papers - Friday 18th September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Question on CNC and human sexuality

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr John Ward:

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

Archbishop of Canterbury:

I don’t accept your presupposition.

Mrs April Alexander:

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

Archbishop of Canterbury:

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

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

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

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The CofE and safeguarding

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

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

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Restoration of deposition?

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

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

Q74. Following the concerns expressed by MACSAS and others about clergy convicted of serious offences continuing to maintain their clerical style and dress, will the House of Bishops consider bringing forward proposals to restore the canonical penalty of deposition from Holy Orders, in order that the Church may more clearly repudiate from its ministry those who have seriously betrayed the trust placed in them?

The Bishop of Durham to reply on behalf of the Chair:

A There are two issues here. Firstly, with regard to the wearing of clerical dress- including clerical collars- taking power to prevent prohibited clergy from wearing clerical dress would be problematic, not least since it would be unenforceable in practice. With regard to exercising ministry, prohibition for life already exists as the most severe penalty under the Clergy Discipline Measure and may be invoked in the case of serious safeguarding offences. When the draft Clergy Discipline Measure was being considered in 2000 the Synod decided not to include deposition in the range of penalties available under the Measure.

I intend to invite the House of Bishops to reconsider whether that decision was wise but amending the CDM to allow deposition would require a Measure, so change would take some considerable time.

The question was not reached in the available time, so no supplementary questions were possible, although as with all questions now the answer was published in advance.

Press reports include:

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Church of England brings back powers to defrock vicars guilty of sex abuse and other crimes
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could return to defrocking rogue priests after child abuse scandals

The first report appears to confuse “The House of Bishops will be asked to think about doing it” with “It will be done”.

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General Synod - Monday's business - climate change

Order paper 5 lists the day’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon

Sound recordings
morning
afternoon

In the morning Synod debated climate change and passed this motion:

That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2 ̊C, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:

(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;

(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options

(c) encourage the redirection of resources into other lower carbon energy options;

(d) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;

(e) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-servicetraining to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and

(f) encourage parishes and dioceses to draw attention to the initiative supported by members of the Faith and Climate network encouraging Christians to pray and fast for climate justice on the first day of each month.

The Bishop of Salisbury opened the debate with this speech.
The Archbishop of Canterbury made this contribution to the debate.
Bishop of Sheffield’s speech
There is also this official press release: Urgent action needed on climate change urges Synod.

In the afternoon, Synod debated climate change and investment policy and passed this motion:

That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:

(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);

(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;

(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change;

(d) urge the NIBs to encourage the work of those energy companies committed to carbon pricing and investing in research into cleaner fuels, natural gas and carbon capture and storage;

(e) urge the NIBs proactively to seek and scale up investment in renewable energy and other low carbon energy sectors and to track low carbon indices;

(f) request the EIAG and the NIBs to publish their ‘engagement framework’ by June 2016; and

(g) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.

The Bishop of Manchester opened the debate with this speech.
There is also this official press release: General Synod welcomes climate change policy.

Press reports and comments

Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod urges investors to act on climate change

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Going green is holy, say Church of England bishops: General Synod calls for vicars to have training in ‘eco-theology’

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England governing body approves divestment policy

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting

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Inquiry into church sex abuse

Updated Friday

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he wants the Church to be reviewed first by the independent inquiry led by Justice Lowell Goddard which is expected to last five years.

BBC Archbishop of Canterbury promises sex abuse inquiry

The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to investigate sex abuse in the Church of England if the judge-led abuse inquiry does not look into it within six months. Justin Welby made the promise during a private meeting with survivors of clerical abuse earlier this week…

Michael Segalov The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury ‘promises inquiry into church sex abuse’ to survivors in private meeting this week

Update

Madeleine Davies Church Times Welby pledges new probe into abuse

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Sunday, 12 July 2015

General Synod - Sunday's business

On Sunday morning Synod members joined the regular congregation for the Eucharist in York Minster. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon.

Order paper 4 lists Sunday’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business

sound recordings
afternoon
Bishop of Chelmsford - CMEAC presentation
evening

Press release on the presentation by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns: Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society [copied below the fold]
I too am CofE - video included in the presentation

Press preview

John Bingham The Telegraph Nine-year-olds allowed to administer Holy Communion under Church shake-up
[As well as looking forward to the final approval debate on Sunday, this article also looks back to the preliminary debate held on Friday.]

Press report

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England failing to promote minority ethnic clergy, says bishop

Church should reflect reality of multi-cultural society
12 July 2015

More needs to be done to promote the full inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans at every level of the Church of England, including the most senior clergy appointments, the General Synod heard today.

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford,introducing a presentation to Synod by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) said it was “critically important” that the leadership of the Church of England at every level reflects the reality of a multi-cultural society.

“Quite simply, the leadership and ministry of the Church of England no longer looks like or adequately reflects the diversity and creativity of the communities it serves. This should be a huge concern and directly affects our credibility as a national Church and our mission,” he said.

“Until we look like the community we serve, not only are we denying ourselves of talent and insight, we are making the work of evangelism and service so much harder. That is why this work of inclusion and representation is unfinished business.”

His remarks were made after Synod members watched a video, part of a follow-up to the 2011 report Unfinished Business on inclusion and representation of minority ethnic Anglicans in the Church of England.

Those featuring in the film include Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Revd Jason Roach, and Sheila Root and Shay Prince, who are both lay members of the Church of England.

Bishop Stephen was joined by Dr Elizabeth Henry, CMEAC national adviser, the Archdeacon of Reigate, Danny Kajumba, Fr Paul Cartwright and Canon Linda Ali in a panel question-and-answer session following the presentation.

The discussion at General Synod followed the publication today of Everyone Counts, a congregational survey carried out in a sample of parishes as part of a long-term commitment to monitoring diversity within the Church.

Watch the video

Background paper by Dr Henry

Link to Everyone Counts 2014 Diversity audit key findings

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

General Synod - Saturday's business

Order Paper 2 contains the business for Saturday morning and afternoon.

Official press release on the safeguarding business: Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation - copied below the fold

Official summaries of the day’s business:
morning
afternoon and evening

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the debate on senior church leadership: Archbishop speaks at Synod on senior church leadership

Sound recordings
morning
farewell to Michael Perham
afternoon
evening

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Sex abuse priests could return to church without checks, warns Archbishop of York

Synod gives final approval for Safeguarding legislation
11 July 2015

The General Synod today gave final approval to a package of proposals intended to take further the process of making the Church a safer place for children and vulnerable adults - both by making the disciplinary processes under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 more effective where safeguarding issues arise and by strengthening the Church’s wider legal framework in relation to safeguarding in various ways. The legislation was originally introduced in February 2014 following a consultation launched at Synod in July 2013.

Speaking in the debate, Bishop Paul Butler, lead bishop on safeguarding, said:
“We all want every single one of our churches and institutions to be safer places and communities for all people; notably for children and adults at times of risk and harm, whether that be long or short term.” He added that along with facing up to the consequences of the past “our emphasis has to be on prevention” stressing that, along with the new legislation, high quality training, safe recruiting and effective quality assurance needed to be implemented at every level of church life. The Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and draft Amending Canon No. 34 (links below) contains a range of elements including:

Adding to the bishop’s existing powers to suspend a priest or deacon, extending to circumstances where the local authority or police provide information which leads the bishop to be satisfied that they present a significant risk of harm. With similar powers for an archbishop to suspend a bishop in such circumstances. (As with all existing provisions this includes a right of appeal to President of Tribunals where suspension occurs).

  • Provision for the disqualification from office as a churchwarden or member of a parochial church council (‘PCC’) anyone whose name appears on a statutory barred list (under the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act).
  • Provision for the bishop to suspend a churchwarden or PCC member on safeguarding grounds in circumstances similar to suspending clergy (with a similar right of appeal).
  • For the first time a statutory obligation on office holders in the Church to have regard to safeguarding advice issued by the House of Bishops (it has previously been expected of clergy but it is now formalised into a statutory provision).
  • Removal of current one year limitation period that applies generally to complaints of clergy misconduct: in relation to complaints of clergy sexual misconduct towards children and vulnerable adults there will be no time limit.
  • Canonical duty on diocesan bishop to have a Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser (‘DSA’) to carry out certain functions. Dioceses have in fact had DSAs for a number of years but this formalizes the requirement to ensure proper provision is in place.
  • A new power given to archbishops and bishops to direct bishops and clergy to undergo a risk assessment (with it the right to request that the President of Tribunals reviews the direction). Subject to this review, it would be misconduct to refuse to undergo the assessment.
  • Similar powers for the bishop in relation to readers and layworkers.

The aim is to secure Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent by the end of the year.

Notes

The Bishop of Durham’s speech on Final approval for the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure is available here.

and the Bishop of Durham’s speech on the Final approval for the Draft amending Canon No. 34 is available here.

The Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure

Draft amending Canon No. 34

The latest practice guidance, approved by the House of Bishops, May 2015

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Friday, 10 July 2015

General Synod - Friday's business

Order Paper 1 contains the day’s business.

Synod papers can be downloaded from here.

There is a live video stream here (when Synod is in session).

The Most Revd Dr Antje Jackelén (the Archbishop of Uppsala) (Church of Sweden) gave this address to Synod: Tal till Engelska kyrkans kyrkomöte i York 10 juli 2015 (på engelska)

Official summary of the day’s business General Synod: Friday PM

Sound recordings
item 2 [Archbishop of Uppsala’s address]
item 3 [Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address]
items 4-6 [remainder of afternoon session]
questions

Press report

John Bingham The Telegraph Church’s £360,000 budget for retreats to talk about sex

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General Synod Questions and Answers

The booklet containing the Questions and Answers to be dealt with in this evening’s session is now available on line.

You will need this file open if you are listening to the proceedings as the answers, never mind the questions, will not be read out loud.

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Reform unequivocally supports Hull vicar

We reported previously on the statement issued by the Archbishop of York in response to the remarks of a vicar in Hull.

Reform has issued this website comment, supporting the vicar and criticising York Minster:

As the Steering Group of Reform met last week, the events surrounding the blessing of the Gay Pride march in York could not be ignored.

Whilst the Reform Steering Group stands opposed to homophobia, nevertheless they were unanimously of the view that it was an offense to all bible-believing Christians for the Minster to endorse, without qualification, the activities of York Pride with the intention of “affirming the LGBT community”.

They appreciated the Archbishop of York’s statement affirming the “traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behavior” and agreed with him that God loves and values all people, whatever their sexual orientation, and that that same love should be shown by Christians. They hope that the Archbishop of York is prepared to stand by the whole of Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and the Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué which affirms this teaching.

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform, said “We long for all churches to model Jesus Christ’s welcome to all people – a welcome that loves us enough not only to walk with us in self-sacrificial love but also to warn us of God’s judgment and call us to repent of our rejection of God’s ways.”

They therefore wish to express their unequivocal support for the stand that Rev Melvin Tinker, a founder member of Reform, has taken and they applaud his courage in being prepared to speak graciously and clearly of the Church’s responsibility to teach and act according to biblical principles.

The Archbishop of Canterbury proposes to consecrate the Chair of Reform, The Reverend Rod Thomas, as Bishop of Maidstone at a service in Canterbury Cathedral on 23 September.

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General Synod to discuss Senior Leadership in the Church

There is a Private Member’s Motion from the Reverend Canon Simon Killwick which will be debated on Saturday afternoon. The motion is:

‘That this Synod do take note of the report of the Faith and Order Commission Senior Leadership: a resource for reflection.’

Two synod papers are available:

Fr. Killwick’s paper contains a very useful summary of the FAOC report as well as a history of the debate which caused it to be commissioned, and he also reports that:

…when it appeared, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops decided that it should not be presented to Synod, according [to] the Bishop of Coventry (it was thrown ‘somewhere away beyond the boundary’). I am grateful to all those who signed my Private Member’s Motion, meaning that it has not taken too long [to] find this ‘rather interesting cricket ball’ again…

There are also several Questions which will be asked and answered on Friday on topics relating to the Senior Leadership activities emanating from the Green report, and we will publish this information as soon as it has been placed on the official CofE website (synod members all have electronic copies already).

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new Bishops of Edmonton and Islington announced

Updated

It has been announced that Robert Wickham and Ric Thorpe will become the suffragan bishops of Edmonton and Islington respectively in the diocese of London.

There are separate press releases from Number 10.

Suffragan Bishop of Edmonton: Robert Wickham
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Robert Wickham to the Suffragan See of Edmonton in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Robert Wickham MA, Rector of St John-at-Hackney in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Edmonton in the diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Wheatley MA following his resignation on 31 December 2014.

Notes for editors

Mr Wickham was educated at Grey College, Durham and King’s College, London and trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his title at the Shrine Parish of St Mary Willesden in the diocese of London and was ordained priest in 1999. He went on to serve in what was to become the Parish of Old St Pancras in 2001. He took up his current role as Rector of St John-at-Hackney in 2007 and additionally became Area Dean of Hackney in 2014.

Mr Wickham is married to Helen, a primary school teacher, and they have three young children, Tom, Susannah and Harry. His interests include walking, family days out and following the fortunes of Plymouth Argyle football club.

Suffragan Bishop of Islington: Reverend Ric Thorpe
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Ric Thorpe to the Suffragan See of Islington in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Ric Thorpe BSC, Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell with Ratcliffe St James in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Islington in the diocese of London which has been in abeyance since 1923.

Notes to editors

Mr Thorpe was educated at Birmingham University and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall. He served his title at Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul, Onslow Square in the diocese of London and was ordained priest in 1997. He went on to serve as Priest in Charge of St Paul’s Shadwell in 2005 before becoming Rector of the same parish in 2010. He served as Priest in Charge of All Hallows, Bromley by Bow between 2010 and 2014.

Since 2000, Ric has been actively involved in supporting and enabling church planting in the Church of England. He took a team of 100 to St Paul’s Shadwell in 2005 and then went on to send planting teams to 4 other Anglican churches in Tower Hamlets to revitalise their parishes. In 2012, Ric was appointed as the Bishop of London’s Adviser for Church Planting and has been invited to support church plants in a number of other dioceses. He is also Tutor in Church Planting at St Mellitus College.

Ric is married to Louie, and they have three teenage children, Zoe, Barny and Toby, along with a springer spaniel called Tasha. Ric’s interests include sailing, rowing, music, eating chocolate, and he has competed in the London Marathon and London Triathlon.

The London diocesan website has Two new bishops and new archdeacon for London announced; it includes this information on consecration dates.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will consecrate Rob Wickham as the new Bishop of Edmonton on 23 September in Canterbury, alongside the Bishops of Kensington and Maidstone. The Archbishop will consecrate Ric Thorpe as the new Bishop of Islington in St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 September.

Update

The Bishop of London has issued this ad clerum: New bishops of Edmonton, Islington and new Archdeacon of Hampstead.

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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Reform and GAFCON respond to Episcopal Church marriage decisions

Updated to add Ugandan statement

Reform has issued this press release: Reform Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage

July 7th, 2015

The Episcopal Church in the USA redefined the definition of marriage and approved liturgy for the blessing of same-sex marriages.

Reform shares the Archbishop of Canterbury’s deep concern about the stress this action will cause the Anglican Communion. We echo his call to respond to the Lord Jesus’ prayer for his followers, that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17.21).

Jesus’ prayer for unity was “for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] message.” (John 17.20). The unity for which Jesus prays is built on the foundation of the teaching he revealed and entrusted to his apostles, recorded for us in the Scriptures. Jesus is not silent on the definition of marriage. “Haven’t you read,” he said to the religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage in his own day, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19.4-5)

In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us to “watch out for false prophets” who come in his name (Matthew 7.15, 22)

Their actions will entrench still further the division in the Anglican Communion. We are grieved at their dishonouring of Jesus’ name. We are distressed by their discouragement of faithful believers, especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives and discredit their witness to Jesus Christ.

We stand with faithful Anglicans in the US and around the world, who continue to pray to Almighty God: “grant, that all they who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love.” (Book of Common Prayer).

GAFCON has issued this press release: TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’.

TEC decision ‘a mistake with serious consequences’

A Response to The Episcopal Church of the United States’ (TEC) decision to make ‘Same – Sex Marriage’ official

The recent decision of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to remove reference to gender in the marriage canon and introduce rites for conducting ‘same-sex marriage’, is a mistake with serious consequences.

The problems for the rest of the Anglican Communion have already been noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the fundamental reason that it is a mistake – and the reason why it is so destabilizing – is that it is a significant departure from Holy Scripture. This is a departure which Christians are not at liberty to make.

With this action, TEC has officially rejected the Anglican Communion’s standard, Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which expresses the Communion’s received and historic understanding of marriage and sexual relationships. TEC has now taken the pattern of behaviour which Lambeth describes as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and equated it with Holy Matrimony.

It may be claimed that TEC is modelling ‘two integrities’, but the Church of God finds its integrity in teaching and living according to the received Word of God. The determination of TEC to press ahead with changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety, shows very clearly the inadequacy of initiatives designed to create reconciliation without repentance.

The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court that claims ‘same sex marriage’ is a constitutional right puts pressure on all churches in the United States, but in different ways all of our Provinces face the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture. It is within this context that we commend the Anglican Church in North America for their willingness to speak with courage, truth, and charity. Being part of a global Communion should always be such a source of mutual encouragement to faithful witness, not a source of hurt to that witness.

The GAFCON movement remains totally committed to the renewal of this global witness and the restoration of its integrity, knowing that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that all need to hear the good news of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. It welcomes and recognizes Anglicans who through no fault of their own have had to disaffiliate from their original province over serious matters of biblical truth. The struggle and spirit of the remnant church must be kept alive.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria and Vice Chairman, The GAFCON Primates Council

6th July 2015

Update
The Archbishop of Uganda has also issued a statement: Abp’s Statement on same-sex marriage in TEC and USA. The full text is copied below the fold.

Archbishop of Uganda’s statement

The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America to change the definition of marriage is grievous. There is a saying, “When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.” As a religious leader in Uganda, I want to assure all Ugandans that we will do everything we can to promote the good moral health of our people and resist such immoral viruses that may try to infiltrate our people.

Likewise, the most recent decision of the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) to change the definition of marriage is even more grievous. At best, it sprang from a desire to extend pastoral care to members of its church who experience same-sex attraction. Pastoral care, however, that is contrary to the Bible’s message is, ultimately, cruel and misleading.

The Church of Uganda broke communion with the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) in 2003 when they unilaterally changed the received Biblical and moral teaching of the Anglican Communion on ordination. The Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously agreed – including the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church – that, should TEC proceed with the consecration as Bishop of a divorced father of two living in a same-sex relationship, it would tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level, which is exactly what has happened over the past twelve years.

In spite of TEC’s 2006 resolution that expressed their “regret” at “straining” the bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion, they have, nonetheless, continued their march toward dismantling the Christian faith and morals, culminating in their recent decision to change the definition of marriage – something that was “given by God in creation.”

Likewise, Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mark 10.6-9).

The definition and meaning of marriage is not something that can be defined by voting. It is something that is given by God in general revelation and in special revelation, and it is for us as human beings and, especially, the Church, to simply receive and follow. The fact that 2+2 equals 4 cannot be changed by a vote or decree. Neither can the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman be changed by a vote.

What St. Paul wrote to Timothy is as relevant today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4)

The Church of Uganda was blessed to play a small role in the creation of the Anglican Church in North America as an alternative and biblically faithful Anglican Church in North America. Through our GAFCON fellowship, a number of Archbishops from Global South Provinces recognized the validity of the Anglican Church in North America, and we support them in their resolution to promote healthy and spiritually strong families and marriages between one man and one woman.

Sadly, the so-called “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion have not been able to restore godly order to the Communion, nor do they seem to have the will to do so. While we despair at the path TEC has taken and their imperialist commitment to export it to the rest of the Anglican Communion, we do not lose hope. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8) “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4.5)

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda.
7th July 2015

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Friday, 3 July 2015

Church Growth

Today’s issue of Church Times has a special series of feature articles (ten pages long in the paper edition): “planned, measured - or wild? getting to grips with church growth”. All are available online, including these which do not need a subscription for access.

Grace Davie Not fade away: the challenge for the Church

Leader: A work of the Spirit

David Goodhew Numbers have always mattered

My tips: Pete Broadbent
Linda Woodhead
Philip North and Dan Tyndall

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Alison White consecrated Bishop of Hull

In a service today (the feast of Thomas the Apostle) in York Minister, Alison White was consecrated bishop by the Archbishop of York to serve as suffragan bishop of Hull in the diocese of York. She is the second female bishop to be consecrated, after Libby Lane, suffragan bishop of Stockport.

York diocese has this report Bishop Alison’s Consecration:

Two thousand people, including sixty bishops from across the globe, gathered at York Minster on Friday 3rd June [Ed: actually 3rd July] for the Consecration of the Rt Revd Alison White as Bishop of Hull.

The Bishops attending the service included the Rt Revd Ingeborg Midttømme (Bishop of Møre in Norway) the Rt Revd Garth Counsell (Bishop of Table Bay in our twin Diocese of Cape Town) the Rt Revd Helen-Ann Hartley (Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand), and the Rt Revd Terence Drainey (Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough).

Also attending the service were children from Broomhaugh C of E First School in Riding Mill, where Alison was vicar, and students from Archbishop Sentamu Academy.

Speaking before the service, the Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, said this was “a day of celebration for the Northern Province”. This was especially the case for the Diocese of York as we not only welcomed Bishop Alison to the Diocese, but also marked the first anniversary of the consecrations of Bishops Paul and John!

Alison was presented for consecration by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, and the recently retired Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton. The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell, preached the sermon.

During the service, a one minute’s service [Ed: silence] was held at noon for the victims of the attack in Tunisia.

At the end of the service, Alison was presented with her pastoral staff, made with a traditional Northumbrian ram’s horn by Neville Straker of Amble.

There are more pictures on Flickr.

BBC news has Second woman bishop Alison White consecrated.

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Graham Tomlin to be Suffragan Bishop of Kensington

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop for Kensington: Graham Tomlin
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Graham Tomlin MA PhD, Dean of St Mellitus College in the diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Kensington in the diocese of London in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Williams MA on his translation to the See of Southwell and Nottingham.

Notes for editors

Dr Tomlin was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title at St Leonard with Holy Trinity Exeter, in the diocese of Exeter from 1986 to 1989.

He was ordained priest in 1987 and became Chaplain at Jesus College, Oxford in 1989. He started as a tutor at Wycliffe Hall in 1989 and went on to become Vice-Principal there from 1998 to 2005.

He took up the role of Principal of St Paul’s Theological Centre in the diocese of London in 2005 before going on to serve in his current post as Dean (now Principal) of St Mellitus College in 2007.

Dr Tomlin is married to Janet with two grown up married children. His interests include many forms of music and sport, including football, cricket, golf and rugby, and Middle Eastern politics and history.

London diocesan website Dr Graham Tomlin announced as the new Bishop of Kensington

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Anne Hollinghurst to be Suffragan Bishop of Aston

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Aston: The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 July 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, to the Suffragan See of Aston.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Hollinghurst BA, MSt, Vicar of St Peter’s St Albans in the diocese of St Albans, to the Suffragan See of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham in succession to the Right Reverend Andrew Watson MA on his translation to the See of Guildford on 24 November 2014.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Anne Hollinghurst (aged 51) holds a BA from the University of Bristol and trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. She later studied for an MSt at the University of Cambridge. Prior to ordination she was a Youth Worker on the staff of the Hyson Green/ Basford Team Ministry in inner-city Nottingham. She served her title at Saviour’s Nottingham in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham from 1996 to 1999. She was ordained priest in 1997 and went on to become Chaplain at the University of Derby and Derby Cathedral in 1999. In 2005 she took up the role of Bishop’s Domestic Chaplain and Residentiary Canon of Manchester Cathedral in the Diocese of Manchester before moving to her current post as Vicar of St Peter’s Church, St Albans in St Albans diocese in 2010.

Anne is married to Steve, who is a researcher and trainer in mission and culture, and a part-time tutor for Church Army. Her interests include theatre and the arts, the environment, the history of Christian spirituality and contemplative prayer. She enjoys travel, fell-walking, and real ale pubs.

Birmingham diocesan wesbite ​The Revd Anne Hollinghurst announced as next Bishop of Aston

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope

I wrote here about the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, and the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now written an analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church: Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope.

General Synod will be holding two debates on some of these issues on the last day of next month’s group of sessions (Monday 13 July). The two motions are copied below the fold. The day will start with private group work on the environment. These are the papers issued to members:

Group Work Bible Study Material on Environment
GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [item 25]
GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [item 26]
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
[These last diocesan synod motions are not being debated, but the papers are provided as background information.]

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE: THE PARIS SUMMIT AND THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH (GS 2003)
The Bishop of Salisbury (Chair of the Environment Working Group) to move:
25 ‘That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 20C [sic - should be 2°C], as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:
(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;
(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options;
(c) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;
(d) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-service training to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and
(e) encourage parishes and dioceses to encourage prayer and fasting for climate justice on the first day of each month.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND INVESTMENT POLICY (GS 2004)
The Bishop of Manchester to move:
26 ‘That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:
(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);
(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;
(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change; and
(d) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.’

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Ruth Worsley to be Suffragan Bishop of Taunton

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Taunton: Ruth Worsley
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 30 June 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Ruth Worsley, Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury, to the Suffragan See of Taunton in the diocese of Bath and Wells in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Maurice MA on his resignation on 30 April 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Ruth Worsley was educated at the University of Manchester and trained for the ministry at St John’s College, Nottingham. She served her title at Basford with Hyson Green, in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and was ordained priest in 1997. She continued as curate of Hyson Green with Forest Fields and became Priest in Charge there in 2001.

From 2006 to 2008 she served as Area Dean in North Nottingham before becoming half-time Area Dean of Nottingham South and half-time Priest in Charge of Sneinton St Christopher with St Philip in 2008. From 2007 to 2010 she also served as Dean of Women’s Ministry and Honorary Canon of Southwell Minster.

In 2010 she became Parish Development Officer in the diocese of Southwark, before taking up her current role as Archdeacon of Wiltshire in the diocese of Salisbury in 2013. She has been Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen since 2009.

Mrs Worsley is married to Howard, Vice-Principal of Trinity College, Bristol. They have three adult sons, Nathanael, Jonathan and Ben and a very new daughter-in-law, Danielle. Ruth’s interests include walking and sailing (though she doesn’t like getting wet!), reading novels, playing the saxophone badly and singing, a little better.

Bath & Wells diocesan website Archdeacon Ruth Worsley announced as next Bishop of Taunton
Salisbury diocesan website Wilts Archdeacon to be New Bishop of Taunton

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Archbishop of York responds to statements by Hull vicar

This evening the Archbishop of York issued this statement.

Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people…

The full text is reproduced below the fold.

Although not mentioned in the statement, it is clear that this is the archbishop’s response to some remarks made by a priest of the York diocese in a radio interview, and then reported in the national press recently, see here:

Minster FM LISTEN: Anger at Vicar’s Comments about York Pride and Paedophiles

Guardian Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

Telegraph Vicar likens homosexuality to paedophilia

Hull Daily Mail Hull vicar Melvin Tinker compares homosexuality to paedophilia and adultery

BBC Hull vicar attacks York Gay Pride march blessing

Independent Hull vicar compares homosexuality to paedophilia

Express Vicar slammed for comparing homosexuality to paedophilia after criticising senior clergyman who blessed Pride march

Statement from the Archbishop of York

Monday 22nd June 2015

The Archbishop of York has today issued this statement:

“Clergy of the Diocese are entitled to express varying views on the question of human sexuality. That is the nature of the Church of England. How those views are expressed is central to how we are heard as Church. Our first call is to love God and one another.

The principles established in recent Church of England and Anglican Communion statements on these matters are clear: alongside a reaffirmation of traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality, orientation, and behaviour, whatever one’s personal views, there is a Christian duty to offer pastoral care and friendship to all people.

The 2005 Dromantine Conference of Anglican Communion Primates Communiqué said:

“We….make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

I give the same assurance to homosexual people in York and across the Diocese that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.

In 1991, whilst reaffirming a traditional view of human sexuality, the House of Bishops Report, ‘Issues in Human Sexuality’ stressed that “there should be an open and welcoming place in the Christian Community” for homosexual people.

The Lambeth 1:10 Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference also said:

“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”

In the Diocese of York in 2009 we engaged in this “listening process” and engaged in shared conversation on these matters within the Diocese.

Last week The Dean of York, The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, spoke last about the York Pride march due to commence on the steps of York Minster last Saturday. She said:

“As in previous years, York Pride will begin its parade from outside the West End of York Minster and for the second year running we are joining other groups in the City of York in showing our support for a section of the community that frequently experiences discrimination and hostility.

“York Minster’s invitation to everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work is extended to the entire community both inside and outside of the Minster. The Church of England is actively encouraging conversations around human sexuality and it is better to have those conversations with friends.”

On Saturday 20th June, Canon Michael Smith, addressed marchers who had gathered on the steps of the Minster:

“My name is Michael Smith and I am the Canon Pastor here at York Minster. Once again I am delighted, on behalf of the Dean and the Minster community, to be able to say a few words and to wish you well for your parade to the Knavesmire and for the rest of your day’s activities and fun.

Our Mission statement here states that ‘York Minster invites everyone to discover God’s love through our welcome, worship, learning and work’. I would like to thank those who have organised this event for this invitation to speak which gives me the opportunity to tell you that our welcome at York Minster is completely and unreservedly inclusive.

Here at York Minster we are always open to having conversations with anyone who wants to come and talk with us and we are always ready to pray with and to pray for people at important times in their lives. Please do not hesitate to come and talk to us.”

He also offered the following prayer:

“Loving God, we give thank that the rainbow is a sign of your promise to love, care for and protect your creation and all your people. We pray for all who will share in this parade today and all who will watch it pass by. May all involved be reminded of your promise of love, care and protection, and of your big and generous heart where there is space for everyone. We offer our prayers and our thanksgivings in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Go on your way in peace. Grow in friendship with God, grow in friendship with your neighbours and follow the way of Jesus who reveals God’s love for all people and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you, those you love and those you pray for today and always. Amen”

The Church of England is currently engaged in a series of national conversations around different views of human sexuality. From time to time strident views will be expressed. Stridency is no substitute for love.

Where injury has been caused, natural justice requires that the Church of England’s processes are properly followed, so that grievances may be resolved Christianly and in an orderly manner, as befits the Body of Christ. As St Paul writes in his Epistle to the Ephesians:

“I, therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4.1-2.

+Sentamu Eboracensis 22nd June 2015

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Friday, 19 June 2015

July General Synod - online papers

Updated to include second circulation papers

Papers in the first circulation for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-13 July are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available.

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers
[Note: The zip files do not contain the Church Commissioners’ Annual Report and the Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report.]

GS 1928A and GS 1928C - Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England [Sunday]

GS 1952B - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Saturday]
GS 1953B - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Saturday]
GS 1952-3Z - Report by the Steering Committee [Saturday]
GS 1953C - Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence [Saturday]

GS 1958B - Christian Initiation: Additional Text for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language [Sunday]
GS 1958X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1964D - Amending Canon No.35 [Friday]

GS 1969A - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Saturday]

GS 1986A - The Church: Towards a Common Vision [Saturday]
[The Church: Towards a Common Vision is online here.]

GS 1987 - Agenda

GS 1988 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]

GS 1989 - Appointments to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]

GS 1990 - Appointment of the Secretary General [Friday]

GS 1991 - Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Friday]

GS 1992 - Administration of Holy Communion Regulations [Friday]
GS 1992X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1993 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1993X - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1994 - Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1994X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1995 - Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1995X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1996 - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1996X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1997 - Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1997X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1998 - Single Transferable Vote (Amendment) Regulations 2015 [Saturday]
GS 1998X - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1999A and GS 1999B - Private Members’ Motion: Senior Leadership [Saturday]

GS 2000 - Consolidated Texts of the Standing Order [Friday]

GS 2001 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Saturday]

GS 2002 - The Archbishops’ Council Budget and Proposals for Apportionment for 2016 [Monday]

GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [Monday]

GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [Monday]

Other papers

Church Commissioners Annual Report and Accounts 2014 [Saturday]

GS Misc 1104 - Liturgical Commission End of Quinquennium Report
GS Misc 1105 - Evangelism Task Group Update
GS Misc 1106 - Report of the Clergy Discipline Commission
GS Misc 1107 - EIAG Annual Report
GS Misc 1108 - CMEAC presention
GS Misc 1109 - National Society: Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships [item 24]
GS Misc 1110 - Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investing Bodies [item 6]
GS Misc 1111 - Summary of Decisions Done (2010 - 2015)
GS Misc 1112 - Audit Committee Annual Report
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1115 - Update on Activities of the Archbishops’ Council
GS Misc 1116 - Reform and Renewal update
GS Misc 1117 - Changing the Culture report from the BC
GS Misc 1118 - Joint Covenant and Monitoring Group
GS Misc 1119 - Membership of Boards, Councils and Committees
GS Misc 1120 - Summary of Decisions from the House of Bishops
GS Misc 1121 - Appointment of the Synod Chaplain

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General Synod agenda published

Updated

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s four day meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.

Agenda for July 2015 group of sessions of the General Synod
19 June 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York in July for a five [sic] day meeting from 3.00 pm on Friday 10th July until 6.00 pm on Monday 13th July. This will be the final meeting of the current Synod before the elections for the new General Synod which will take place over the summer and early autumn.

The Agenda for the July meeting is published today. As this Synodical term draws to a close, there will be a substantial amount of legislative business which will need to be concluded before the current Synod is dissolved. There will be a series of items of Environmental Business focusing on the forthcoming Paris Summit and the investment policies of the Church Commissioners and other church investment bodies. There will also be a number of opportunities, both in formal business and fringe meetings for Synod members to engage further with the reform and renewal programme, which was debated at length during the Synod in July and is currently the subject of widespread consultation around the church.

On the afternoon of Friday 10 July, there will be a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York. There will also be a presentation followed by a Question and Answer session from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies.

On Saturday 11 July there will be a sequence of legislative business, including the Final Approval of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and the associated Amending Canon No.34, which will strengthen the Church’s legal framework in relation to safeguarding and make its disciplinary processes more effective where safeguarding issues arise. Changes will include making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on clergy, churchwardens and PCCs to have due regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies.

In addition to the items of legislative business already mentioned, the Synod will be considering new Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, an order giving PCCs greater freedom to dispose of property without the need for diocesan consent an amendment to the Clergy Terms of Service Regulations arising out of one of the recommendations of the Simplification Task Group, new regulations to allow the administration of Holy Communion by children.

On the Saturday afternoon, the Synod will be debating a Private Member’s Motion on Senior Leadership arising out of the recent Faith and Order Commission publication on this topic. The Synod will also be responding formally to a report by the World Council of Churches entitled The Church: Towards a Common Vision.

On Sunday 12 July the Synod will be debating the proposed Additional Texts for Holy Baptism in Accessible Language. There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield (now part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales) on the Nature and Structure of the Church of England. This will be followed by a presentation from the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) on progress made over the last four years in encouraging MEA participation in the work and ministry of the Church.

The final day of Synod in this Synodical period will be devoted to two motions on environmental issues. The first looks ahead to the Paris Summit and the Church’s response to it. The second concerns the new investment policy unveiled by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Synod will conclude this current term with a service of Holy Communion. The new Synod will reconvene for its inaugural meeting after the elections on 24 November.

The full agenda can be viewed online here.

Update

Madeleine Davies of Church Times was at today’s press briefing: Environment is top of General Synod agenda in York.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Nottingham Tribunal: Judge calls it a "busted flush"

Updated again Sunday

This case continues to yield amazing quotations.

Two more reports just in:

Nottingham Post Bishop made ‘personal decision’ to deny license to Nottinghamshire priest in same-sex marriage

…When pressed on what damage Canon Pemberton’s appointment would have caused, Rev Inwood said: “There would be no harm to the trust in granting the license and no harm to the church.”

Employment Judge Peter Britton said the bishop’s decision highlighted an “innate conundrum” for the church and questioned how something that is not harmful to the church can be so fundamental to the doctrine as to cause the license to be denied.

He said: “This is a busted flush isn’t it?”

In response Rev Inwood said: “I think put like that I would agree with you Sir.”

Press Association via the Guardian Recruiting married gay priest would not have harmed church, bishop admits

…Inwood was asked by Sean Jones QC, acting for Pemberton, what harm he thought it would do the Church of England to have granted a licence to allow the 59-year-old to be appointed as chaplain. “We know that Canon Pemberton wanted to join. In your view he was perfectly capable, you had no reason to believe he wasn’t. He was the trust’s preferred candidate, and that when you refused the licence, at very least, the man responsible for making recommendations to the trust was anxious to get you to think again. We know the House of Bishops guidance did not require you not to grant. And you say you took the decision. What was it you feared would happen?
What harm would arise if you gave Canon Pemberton the licence?”

Inwood replied: “It is not a matter of danger but by my own oath of honour and obedience, under authority, to maintain the doctrine of the church.
It’s my own personal decision.”

Jones asked: “You weren’t anticipating any harm, whether to him, to you, or the trust? The bishop replied: “Certainly no harm to the trust or the church.”

The tribunal judge, Peter Britton, picking up on this answer, suggested it left him with a conundrum. He asked the bishop: “If it would be no harm to the church, and the doctrine is about protecting the beliefs of the church, then haven’t you got an innate conundrum? If it so fundamental to the doctrine, thus the breach would cause harm. But if you think it is of no harm to the church surely that means the reliance on this being fundamentally doctrinal, as to otherwise bring down harm on the church, is a busted flush isn’t it?

Inwood agreed but later added that he would have felt granting the licence would have been incompatible with guidance issued by the Church of England’s bishops in March 2014…

Update

Ian Paul has this further analysis: Is wrong doctrine harmful?

The Church Times carries this report in its online edition: Same-sex marriage ‘certainly irregular’, Inwood tells tribunal

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Faith leaders declaration on climate change

Faith leaders in the UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a declaration on climate change late on Tuesday.

Archbishop of Canterbury join faith leaders in call for urgent action to tackle climate change
16 June 2015

Faith leaders in Britain have pledged to fast and pray for the success of key international negotiations over climate change in a new declaration warning of the “huge challenge” facing the world over global warming.

Representatives of the major faiths including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said climate change has already hit the poorest of the world hardest and urgent action is needed now to protect future generations.

In the newly-launched Lambeth Declaration, signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy…

The text of the declaration is copied below the fold.

The declaration was launched at a service in St Margaret’s, Westminster, yesterday. Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, preached this sermon.

There was also a mass climate change lobby outside parliament.

Emma Howard The Guardian Thousands join mass climate change lobby outside UK parliament
Adam Vaughan The Guardian Thousands gather in London to lobby their MPs over climate change – as it happened
Jo Siedlecka Independent Catholic News Thousands lobby Parliament for action on climate change

Comment includes:

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change
David Atkinson Fulcrum Climate change and the churches

Today Pope Francis has issued an encyclical letter: Laudato Si’ on care of our common home. The Church of England has welcomed the Pope’s encyclical.

Lambeth Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

As leaders of the faith communities we recognise the urgent need for action on climate change.

From the perspective of our different faiths we see the earth as a beautiful gift. We are all called to care for the earth and have a responsibility to live creatively and sustainably in a world of finite resources.

Climate change is already disproportionately affecting the poorest in the world. The demands of justice as well as of creation require the nations of the world urgently to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 2oC, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun. We have a responsibility to act now, for ourselves, our neighbours and for future generations.

The scale of change needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy is considerable and the task urgent. We need to apply the best of our intellectual, economic and political resources. Spirituality is a powerful agent of change. Faith has a crucial role to play in resourcing both individual and collective change.

We call on our faith communities to:

Recognise the urgency of the tasks involved in making the transition to a low carbon economy.

Develop the spiritual and theological resources that will strengthen us individually and together in our care of the earth, each other and future generations.

Encourage and pray for those engaged in the intellectual, economic, political and spiritual effort needed to address this crisis.

Work with our communities and partners in the UK and internationally to mitigate the effects of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world;

Build on the examples of local and international action to live and to work together sustainably,

Redouble our efforts to reduce emissions that result from our own institutional and individual activities.

As representatives of the vast numbers of people of faith across the globe we urge our Government to use their influence to achieve a legally-binding commitment at the international Climate Change talks in Paris, and with the continuing programme beyond. Through our various traditions we bring our prayers for the success of the negotiations.

We call with humility, with a determination enlivened by our faith and with awareness of the need for courage, justice and hope. We are faced with a huge challenge. But we are hopeful that the necessary changes can be made - for the sake of all who share this world today - and those who will share it tomorrow.

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Paul Slater to be Bishop of Richmond

Press release from Number 10.

Suffragan See of Richmond: Paul Slater

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 18 June 2015

The Venerable Paul Slater is appointed as Her Majesty’s [sic] Suffragan See of Richmond for the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Paul Slater, Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, to the Suffragan See of Richmond also in the newly created diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Paul Slater studied at Corpus Christi, Oxford and trained for the Ordained Ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He was ordained Deacon in 1984 and served his title in the diocese of Bradford. He became Priest-in-Charge of Cullingworth in 1988, before taking on the role of Chaplain to the Bishop of Bradford n 1993. Paul Slater returned to parish ministry to serve as Rector of Haworth in 1995, before being appointed as Bishop’s Officer for Ministry and Mission in the Diocese of Bradford in 2001. He took up the role of Archdeacon of Craven in 2005, where he served until taking up the role of Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven in the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales in 2014.

He is married to Beverley, a manager in the NHS leading service improvement, and they have two grown up sons. His interests include tennis, cricket, cooking and workplace mediation.

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has written about the appointment.

A new Bishop of Richmond

It has been announced this morning that the Venerable Paul Slater, currently Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, is to be the Bishop of Richmond in the Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales).

Paul has served his entire ministry in West Yorkshire, knows the territory better than anyone, and has walked (at some cost) the journey of transition from three historic dioceses into the one we now have.

Why Richmond? Well, we argued throughout the process for creating the new diocese that the diocesan bishop should not have responsibility for creating and running an episcopal area (of which we have five). We lost the argument. However, the experience of the last year has proved us right. The quickest and easiest way to add capacity was to revive the dormant See of Richmond and appoint a suffragan bishop to it. However, based in Leeds, the new bishop will essentially cover the Leeds Episcopal Area, setting me free (as diocesan bishop) to attend in more detail to the diocesan creation and transformation.

Paul will hit the ground running – a key criterion for this post. He will need no induction into the diocese, the journey we are on, the challenges we face, or the structures we are creating/transitioning.

For the record, I looked at four people: two women and two men. Paul was unanimously approved by the advisory group that interviewed him. I am delighted with his appointment and look forward to what lies ahead.

The diocesan website has Archdeacon Paul Slater to be new Bishop of Richmond. This notes that “Paul Slater will be consecrated as Bishop of Richmond at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 19 July at 4pm.”

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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Reactions to Bishop Richard Inwood's criticism of same-sex marriage

Updated 9 pm

The Nottingham tribunal took a new, and nasty turn, today, when Bishop Richard Inwood reportedly expressed his opinion that same-sex marriages were “sinful” and “unwholesome”.

This immediately provoked a very strong reaction in social media, and both Changing Attitude and LGCM have published responses to it:

  • LGCM Tracey Byrne Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement comments on damaging comments from Bishop Richard Inwood in Canon Jeremy Pemberton tribunal

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) commented:

“As the Tribunal deciding the fate of Canon Jeremy Pemberton continues, we, as Christians and members of the LGBTI community, would like to express our undivided support to Jeremy. This support goes alongside our absolute disgust at the comments made today by Bishop Richard Inwood. No life-long, faithful, stable relationship – be it gay or straight – should be described in these terms. It’s not fair, not right and not Christian. Today’s comments from the Bishop, in which he described same-sex marriage as sinful and unwholesome, are harmful for the Church of England and its relationship with the LGBTI community. We believe an urgent response to these comments is needed from the Archbishops.”

Curiously, this happened just before the Church of England website published this Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal.

Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal
17 June 2015
“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and receive that support. The Church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversations about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Update

The Communications Unit at Church House Westminster has now issued this partial unofficial record of today’s hearing. Worth reading all the way through. And now copied in full below the fold.

There are two media reports:

Nottingham Post Former bishop prayed for priest after revoking his licence due to same sex marriage

Press Association via the Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘passed the buck over gay priest’s wedding’

And now also
Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urged clerics to stick to ‘line’ over rebel priest’s gay wedding

From the Church of England Communications Unit

Employment Tribunal

Following comments on social media concerning the evidence of Bishop Richard Inwood at the Nottingham employment tribunal, the following is a record of the relevant cross examination between Sean Jones, counsel for Jeremy Pemberton and Richard Inwood which took place on Wednesday 7 June.

Sean Jones: Does the Church recognise Canon Pemberton as being married

Bishop Inwood: Yes because it’s the law of the land.

Sean Jones: Just so I’m clear about the scope of the doctrine of the Church, does the Church consider that entering into a same sex marriage is a sinful act?

Bishop Inwood: I think at this point, because the Church has not changed its canons or legislation, it is certainly irregular and some may say it is sinful yes.

Sean Jones: And they would say Canon Pemberton should be asking God’s forgiveness for his marriage?

Bishop Inwood: I can’t say what they’d say, I don’t know

Sean Jones: If someone is living in sin, then they need God’s forgiveness. Doesn’t that seem clear?

Bishop Inwood: Yes

Sean Jones: How would the Church expect him to repent?

Bishop Inwood: I’m unclear what you’re asking about. Are you asking about individual views? Some people might think that it’s sinful and think he needs to repent.

Sean Jones: Do you think it’s sinful?

Bishop Inwood: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I’m not a judge of what is sinful in the sense that I would claim to understand the mind of God. We are currently engaged in discussion to see what the mind of God might be. It may be that there would be a change on the Church’s position in which case same sex marriage would not be a problem.

Sean Jones: So whether you think it’s sinful depends on the process.

Bishop Inwood: I am open to changing my mind if we got to that point.

Sean Jones: What’s your present mind?

Bishop Inwood: My mind is that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t think it is part of the beliefs of the Church to enter into a same sex marriage.

Sean Jones: So is entering into same sex marriage sinful?

Bishop Inwood: The word sinful is such a difficult one to deal with really. Part of me wants to say yes because I think it’s against the Church, but part of me says no because Canon Pemberton entered into it with the view to it being wholesome.

Sean Jones: So you think the intention was wholesome?

Bishop Inwood: Yes, but I think the timing was wrong

Sean Jones: Do you think they got it wrong and entered into an unwholesome marriage?

Bishop Inwood: Yes because I think Canon Pemberton ought to have had regard to the teaching of the Church and held off on his marriage at this particular point and had regard to the Church’s teachings.

Sean Jones: One last question on this. So we’re clear, in your view would getting divorced now solve the problem or make it worse?

Bishop Inwood: That would make it worse.

Sean Jones: So it’s better that he remains married than divorced.

Bishop Inwood: Yes.

Sean Jones: Thank you.

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Same-sex Marriage and CofE Clergy

Updated yet again Wednesday afternoon

The BBC reports on the employment tribunal case that is being heard this week in Nottingham: Gay canon Jeremy Pemberton in Church discrimination tribunal.

A clergyman barred from working because he married his partner has denied going against the Church’s teachings, an employment tribunal heard.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.
He brought a discrimination case which started on Monday.
The Rt Revd Richard Inwood argued the marriage was against the Church of England’s teachings.
Although Mr Pemberton was employed by the NHS, he needed a licence from the diocese to work at King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield which was refused.
Canon Jeremy Pemberton was appointed Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but the Church declined a licence.
At the opening of the hearing at Nottingham Justice Centre earlier, his lawyer said “equality has reached the door of the church. Where that boundary lies is for you to decide”.
Lawyers representing the Church suggested that Mr Pemberton had gone against the Church’s teachings.
He replied: “No, because I have had a civil marriage. I believe that was the moral thing to do…”

Also at the BBC Caroline Wyatt has this which includes a 2 minute video report. She interviews Malcolm Brown and Andrew Symes as well as Peter Tatchell.

Earlier, she published this detailed analysis of the case: Will the Church ever accept same-sex marriage? which should be read in full. Here is an excerpt:

…The Church acknowledged that its teachings now diverged for the first time from the general understanding and definition of marriage by Parliament.
However, the Church of England says that it nonetheless values theological debate, and allows clergy to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while making clear that they should not marry someone of the same sex.
At the same time, it has no wish to be seen as homophobic, and has also issued guidance to say that the Church welcomes gay and lesbian clergy and laity and considers homophobia unacceptable.
But can it hold those two positions at the same time for much longer, especially as social mores around the Church continue to change rapidly, with younger generations in the UK far more likely than their elders to accept same-sex marriage as a given?
The Church may well see its position in this case as clear: that those who serve as clergy must live up to all the teachings of the Church, whether they agree with them or not.
However, campaigners for change in its current position on same-sex marriage will argue with equal vigour that the Church’s doctrine has adapted in the past to accommodate changing social mores, and - if it wanted to - the Church of England could do so again.

Other media reports so far:

Updates

Nottingham Post Tribunal hears first day of gay clergyman discrimination case

…Today, Thomas Linden, representing the respondent, cross-examined Pemberton on a several issues including his claim for harassment, the background prior to the wedding as well as the ‘media storm’ that followed his marriage.

At one point Pemberton broke down in tears in front of the tribunal as he recounted how he felt after his PTO was revoked.

He said: “PTOs are (only) really revoked if someone has done something serious, they’re criminally involved, is involved in an affair or has lost their capacity.”

Mr Linden, representing the church claimed that following the revocation, Pemberton could have continued to perform for the choir and carry on in parish life.

Pemberton replied: “Not as a priest.”

Pemberton also defended claims he was ‘surprised’ by the publicity he received on his wedding day and in the weeks that followed.

A spokesman for the C of E said: “The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and received that support.

“The Church of England has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.

“The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy not have the option of treating the teachings of the Church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.

“The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversation about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”

Both the Telegraph and the Guardian have reports on Tuesday morning:

And here are two reports of what happened on the second day of the hearing:

Update Wednesday afternoon

The following has now appeared on the Church of England website: Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal. This appears to be the same statement quoted in several media reports yesterday, and not related directly to the developments in the case at today’s hearing.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 1:47pm BST | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Religion and Belief in Schools

Updated

The Westminster Faith Debates today release A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools by Charles Clarke, the former education secretary, and Linda Woodhead, professor of sociology of religion at Lancaster University.

Press reports include:

Barney Thompson Financial Times Call to overhaul religious education in schools

Richard Garner Independent Schools told to end religious instruction and teach morality instead

Press Association in The Guardian Scrap compulsory worship in schools, says former education secretary
The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on religious education in schools: don’t trash it, transform it

Javier Espinoza Telegraph It’s time to end compulsory daily worship in schools, says Clarke

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Abolish religious assemblies in schools, says new report

Sean Coughlan BBC News Call to end compulsory worship in schools

Charles Clarke was interviewed on the BBC Radio4 Today programme this morning, starting at 02hr 54min.

The Church of England has issued this Statement on RE and collective worship, apparently in response to the paper, although since it fails to mention either the pamphlet or its authors it could be a complete coincidence.

Update

Rev Nigel Genders, Church of England Chief Education Officer RE must not be downgraded

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 11:37am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Bishop of Horsham resigns from SSWSH

Updated again Friday

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has issued this announcement:

The Bishop of Horsham

Statement by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society

It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham’s resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society. I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others.

Part of The Society’s purpose is to continue within the Church of England a tradition of sacramental theology and ministry that accords with the mind and practice of the great churches of East and West. We see this as our contribution both to the breadth and diversity of the Church of England and to the quest for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.

As a member of the Council of Bishops, the Bishop of Chichester will continue to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration to the clergy and people of The Society in his diocese.

We send Bishop Mark our good wishes for his future ministry.

+TONY WAKEFIELD
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman

This has been reported in the local Sussex press with a more tendentious headline: Horsham Bishop will support women bishops in shock shift in theology

The Bishop of Horsham announced today (June 10) that he has stepped down from a traditionalists’ committee following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.

The Rt Rev Mark Sowerby has resigned from the Society’s Council of Bishops, which has long held the thinking that women should not be ordained as priests, deacons and bishops in the Church of England.

He said today that he now wishes to accept women into all these roles….

Update
The Chichester diocesan website now has Bishop of Horsham – Resignation as a member of the Society’s Council of Bishops

…The Bishop of Chichester said today: “Bishop Mark’s shift in theological outlook on the ordination of women priests and bishops is a costly one. All who know and respect him will understand the serious struggle with conscience that will have led to his decision. We respect his honesty and applaud his courage. For some of those he serves it will be a development that they cannot follow, and that will be painful; for others, this news will be greeted with relief and considerable rejoicing.

Bishop Mark will continue to minister in the diocese as suffragan bishop of Horsham. Traditionalists who have looked to him for sacramental ministry will still have available to them the pastoral care and oversight of the diocesan bishop.

Future arrangements for the oversight of ordination in this diocese had already been agreed, prior to Bishop Mark’s decision. All ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood will take place in the Cathedral; all three bishops will participate in the ordinations, in ways that respect the theological conscience of those present. This will follow the precedent set by the Archbishop of York in the arrangements for the episcopal ordination of Libby Lane as bishop of Stockport and Philip North as bishop of Burnley.

Bishop Martin concluded: “Within the household of faith, we are committed to the trust and respect for theological conscience that undergirds the Five Guiding Principles of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. We seek the greatest degree of communion possible in our apostolic life of faith, of hope and of love. We ask for God’s continued blessing on Bishop Mark in proclaiming and nurturing the call to know, love, follow Jesus.”

The Church Times carries a report, Another woman bishop appointed, as Horsham changes his view, which includes quotes from Bishop Mark’s letter to Bishop Tony.

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CofE Announces new Secretary General

The Archbishops’ Council has announced that William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England

CofE Announces new Secretary General
10 June 2015

The Archbishops’ Council are delighted to announce William Nye has been selected to be its next Secretary-General and Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England. He will succeed William Fittall who is retiring at the end of November after thirteen years in this post.

William Nye was selected unanimously by a panel comprising both Archbishops, seven other members of the Council (including two officers of the General Synod) and the Chair of the Appointments Committee. The recommendation of the panel was unanimously endorsed by a meeting of the full Council in May 2015.

William Nye brings 25 years of experience from the Civil Service and Whitehall. His roles and departments have included National Security at the Cabinet Office, Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defence at HM Treasury and Arts at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

For the last four years he has worked as the Principal Private Secretary to Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall where he has led on matters of significant public sensitivity and organisational effectiveness.

Mr. Nye, 49, is a long serving and active member of the Church of England where he has served as a PCC member for nearly 20 years and a Churchwarden for around 10 years. He has also served as a Deanery Synod representative.

The selection process for the new Secretary General was both extensive and thorough. A wide selection of candidates from inside and outside the Church was sought and a field of around 30 candidates was attracted. The Council was supported in its search by a leading recruitment agency.

The Shortlist comprised 5 applicants drawn from public, private and third sectors. There were many strong applications, in the end the panel selected the candidate who was best able to fulfil the broad scope of the role and would be best able to serve in the priority areas.

In his interviews William Nye demonstrated great commitment to the vision of a Church which will support future generations. He brought great insight and demonstrated great sensitivity to the needs of the dioceses. He impressed the panel with his understanding of the challenges that the church faces and the depth of thinking as to how those challenges can be met and opportunities exploited. William pointed out that after 25 years of public service he wishes now to help the Church to thrive on behalf of the whole of our country.

William Nye is due to start work at Church House at the beginning of November in preparation for taking up his new responsibilities on 1 December. Under Standing Order 123 of the Synod’s Standing Orders, the person appointed by the Archbishops’ Council as its Secretary General is also, subject to the approval of the Synod, Secretary General of the Synod. In accordance with the Standing Order that approval will be deemed to be given unless, by midnight on Wednesday 24 June 40 or more members have given notice to the Clerk of the Synod in accordance with Standing Order 12 that they wish the appointment to be debated by the Synod.

William Nye - Biographical details

Mr Nye was born in 1966 and educated at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham. He has a BA in Economics from Cambridge University and an MA in Economics from Yale University, in the United States.

He joined the Civil Service after university, starting in the Treasury. His subsequent senior appointments include:

1998-2000: Head of Arts policy at the Department of Culture Media and Sport
2001-2002: Head of Defence, Diplomacy and Intelligence at the Treasury
2002-2005: Director of Performance and Finance at the Home Office
2005-2007: Director of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence at the Home Office
2007-2008: Director, Law, Security and International at the Home Office
2008-2011: Director in the National Security Secretariat at the Cabinet Office
2011-2015: Principal Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 10:38am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

I reported here on the Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure that was issued last week.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now reviewed the paper here: CofE: a quasi-consultation on quasi-law?

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 9:41am BST | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Suffragan Bishop of Crediton: Sarah Elisabeth Mullally

Updated

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Crediton: Sarah Elisabeth Mullally

From:Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 9 June 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Reverend Canon Sarah Elisabeth Mullally to the Suffragan See of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Sarah Elisabeth Mullally, DBE, MA, MSc, BSc, RGN, DSc honoris causa Canon Residentairy and Canon Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral in the Diocese of Salisbury, to the Suffragan See of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel, MA, on his translation to the See of Plymouth on 19 April 2015.

Notes for editors
The Reverend Canon Dame Sarah Mullally (aged 53) studied first at South Bank University for her BSc followed by a MSc and then at Heythrop College, University of London where she got her MA. She was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Science from Bournemouth University, (2004), University of Wolverhampton (2004) and University of Hertfordshire (2005) and was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2005 for her contribution to nursing and midwifery. She is a late ordinand who before ordination was Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health. She trained for the ministry at the South East Institute for Theologian Education and served her first curacy at Battersea Fields in Southwark Diocese from 2001 to 2006. From 2006 to 2012 she was Team Rector at Sutton in Southwark Diocese. Since 2012 she has been Canon Residentiary and Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral.

Dame Sarah Mullally is married to Eamonn and they have 2 children. She has continued her interest in the health service, having been a non executive director at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and then at Salisbury NHS Foundation Hospital. She is a novice potter.

Update

The Exeter diocesan website has this news item New Bishop of Crediton to be Dame Sarah Mullally. This states that she will be consecrated at the same service as Rachel Treweek, ie on 22 July 2015.

The Salisbury diocesan website has Canon Chancellor Announced as Bishop.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 June 2015 at 10:09am BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

Press release from the Church of England

Consultation paper on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure
04 June 2015

House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests
Consultation Paper on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure

The Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, appointed to consider grievances and concerns relating to the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests has issued a consultation paper on the working of the disputes resolution procedure. The paper sets out how Sir Philip intends to implement the new procedure.

The consultation paper is available here.

The closing date for comments is 4 September 2015

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

God - he or she?

Updated

How to refer to God - male, female, both or neither - has become a hot topic in the media in the last few days, as the long list below testifies. It appears to have started with this article (behind the paywall) by Nicholas Hellen, the Social Affairs Editor of the Sunday Times: Women clergy pray God gets a feminine touch. John Bingham and others then took it up.

Bingham and others refer to a public call by the Transformations Steering Group to the bishops to encourage more “expansive language and imagery about God”. The phrase comes from this document, issued in 2011 and presented to the bishops in 2012.

John Bingham Telegraph Calls to refer to God as a woman as female bishops take up posts

Ian Johnston Independent Female clergy propose referring to God as ‘She’ to counter idea only men are made in his image

Amelia Butterly BBC God is neither ‘she’ nor ‘he’ say Anglican priests

Nadia Khomami The Guardian Let God be a ‘she’, says Church of England women’s group

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today ‘Jesa Christa’: God is female too, say Church of England campaigners

Claire Elliot Daily Mail Our Mother who art in heaven: Group of Church women want to refer to God as a ‘She’ to combat sexism

Archdruid Eileen Should God be referred to as a Woman?

Kate Bottley The Guardian Is God a woman? To ask the question is to miss the point

Sally Hitchiner Telegraph Is God a man or a woman?

Jemima Thackray Telegraph Imagining God as a woman? That’s like farting against thunder

Telegraph leader Of course God is a woman

Carey Lodge Christian Today Is it wrong to refer to God in the female?

The Guardian Pass Notes Praise her, praise her: should we refer to God as a woman?

Damian Thompson Daily Mail No, God ISN’T male. But calling Him a ‘She’ is unholy twaddle

Updates

The media interest was prompted by remarks made at last week’s Westminster Faith Debate on Women Bishops - what difference does it make? including Hilary Cotton’s address at Westminster Faith Debate on gender justice and the church.

Andrew Lightbown Gender, Jesus and Identity; some ‘what ifs….’

Ian Paul Can we address God as ‘She’?

Daily Mail If God were a woman: As Church feminists say God is a ‘She’, some of our wittiest and wisest writers imagine the world with a higher female power at the helm

Archbishop Cranmer Against heresy: if Jesus called God ‘Father’, who are we to conflate him with Mary?

Jonathan Clatworthy God’s genitalia

Emma Percy answers questions from Premier Christianity: Why I believe God should be referred to as ‘she’.

Madeleine Davies Church Times WATCH reignites debate on gender language and God

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 2 June 2015 at 8:56pm BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Friday, 29 May 2015

Vicar declines to baptise child of unmarried parents

Updated yet again 2 June

The Vicar of St. John’s Church, Dukinfield, in the Diocese of Chester, has declined to baptise a baby, unless the parents agreed to get married first.

The story is reported in two national newspapers:

And in one local newspaper:

Manchester Evening News Vicar refuses to baptise child because his parents are not married

The Church of England website page Christening FAQs says

…Can anyone have a Christening service?

Yes, so long as they have not been Baptized already. The Church of England welcomes all babies, children and families for Christenings - whatever shape that family takes. You do not have to be married to ask for a Christening for your child. You do not have to have been a regular churchgoer - as parents, you do not even have to have been Christened yourselves. Everyone is welcome at their local church. Just ask your local vicar if this is something you are considering for your baby.

However, according to the Mail report, the diocese defended the vicar, thus:

A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester said: ‘Revd Tim Hayes would very much like to encourage the couple to take the Christian initiation of baptism very seriously.
‘At no point has he refused to baptise the child. The Church of England believes that the best place for a child grow is within marriage.
‘The vicar would be happy to help the couple be married and then to baptise their child at no financial cost to them – so that the best outcome can be achieved.
‘We hope the family will receive this offer warmly, but if they would rather not be married, then St John’s church, Dukinfield, will still be happy to offer them a service of thanksgiving.’

The text of Canon B 22 is as follows (thanks Mark B)

B 22 Of the baptism of infants

1. Due notice, normally of at least a week, shall be given before a child is brought to the church to be baptized.

2. If the minister shall refuse or unduly delay to baptize any such infant, the parents or guardians may apply to the bishop of the diocese, who shall, after consultation with the minister, give such directions as he thinks fit.

3. The minister shall instruct the parents or guardians of an infant to be admitted to Holy Baptism that the same responsibilities rest on them as are in the service of Holy Baptism required of the godparents.

4. No minister shall refuse or, save for the purpose of preparing or instructing the parents or guardians or godparents, delay to baptize any infant within his cure that is brought to the church to be baptized, provided that due notice has been given and the provisions relating to godparents in these Canons are observed.

Update

Christian Today has an article by Mark Woods who is a Baptist, entitled Infant baptism: Is it ever ok for the Church to turn parents away?
Mark incorrectly identifies the relevant diocese, which is, as noted above, Chester.

Update 2 June

Philip Jones has written a detailed legal analysis: Baptism and Godly Living.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 May 2015 at 2:21pm BST | Comments (57) | TrackBack
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Friday, 22 May 2015

July 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Timetable

Friday 10 July

[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Opening worship
Formal business
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York

Business Committee Report

4.25 pm Approval of appointments

Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration

Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 11 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm

Legislative Business
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations

Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm

Farewell

Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership

Legislative Business
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]

Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
EITHER
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
OR
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Sunday 12 July

2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Liturgical Business
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval

Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)

Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate

Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Financial Business
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016

Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships

Monday 13 July

9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)

Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment

11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies

Farewells

BREAK

4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 22 May 2015 at 5:12pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 21 May 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Government efficiency, transparency and accountability

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

Note for editors

Caroline Spelman has been the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. She is a former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a confirmed member of the Church of England.

The Second Commissioner is a Member of Parliament and answers to Parliament for the business of the Commissioners. Mrs Spelman succeeds Sir Tony Baldry, who did not stand for re-election in the recent general election.

There is a much longer press release from the Church Commissioners, which is copied below the fold.

The Church Commissioners welcome the announcement of Caroline Spelman as Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church Commissioners for England have today welcomed the Crown appointment of the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner, replacing the Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry.

The role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner is to provide a link between Government, Parliament and the established Church. The Second Church Estates Commissioner answers oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters in the House of Commons, is a member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee and steers Church of England legislation through the House of Commons. She is also an ex-officio member of the General Synod and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Board of Governors.

Welcoming Caroline Spelman’s appointment, Andrew Brown, Secretary Chairman to the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Caroline as the Second Church Estates Commissioner and look forward to working with her. Caroline has a strong commitment to the church and its mission to local communities. This is vital to the Church Commissioners as we carry out the work and mission of the Church of England.”

Commenting on her appointment Caroline Spelman, said: “I am honoured to be asked to undertake this role as the Church is important for the future of our country and I want to help it navigate the challenges of the modern world with the support of our parliamentarians.”

Caroline Spelman has held a number of leading parliamentary posts, including from 2010-12 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She has also been Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Shadow Minister for Women, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Shadow Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government. She has also been a member of a number of Parliamentary committees, including the Environmental Audit Select Committee and Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill. She has represented the Parliamentary constituency of Meriden since 1997, a West Midlands seat containing a wide socio-economic mix, which is in both the Birmingham and Coventry dioceses.

Caroline is a former agriculture specialist, holds a BA in European studies from Queen Mary College London, is Vice Chair of Tearfund and Patron of Welcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity.

A committed and lifelong Anglican, she worships at Knowle Parish Church in her Meriden constituency, has been a longstanding member of the Christians in Parliament all party group and joined the Ecclesiastical Committee in 2014. In March 2014 she initiated a House of Commons debate on the contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England.

Caroline likes choral singing and is chair of the Parliamentary Choir.

Background on Caroline Spelman:

Parliamentary Career
Elected MP, Meriden, 1997
Opposition Whip 1998-99;
Board member Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) 1997-2001;
Opposition Spokesperson for:
Health 1999-2001,
Women’s Issues 1999-2001;
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-03;
Shadow Minister for Women 2001-04;
Shadow Secretary of State for:
the Environment 2003-04,
Local and Devolved Government Affairs 2004-05,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government 2005-07, 2009-10;
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2010-12

Past Select committees
Member:
Science and Technology 1997-98,
Environmental Audit 2013-,
Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2014,
Ecclesiastical Committee 2014-

Further education
Queen Mary College, London (BA European studies 1980)

Ends

Notes to Editors:
The Church Commissioners for England
The Church Commissioners manage an investment fund of £6.7 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio, including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community. The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving the retired clergy

The Church Commissioners annual report can be viewed here.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 May 2015 at 11:48am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act

The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.

The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is befo