Friday, 22 May 2015

July 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the July 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be available on Friday 19 June.

GENERAL SYNOD: JULY 2015
Timetable

Friday 10 July

[1.15 pm – 2.30 pm Convocation meetings to discuss the Revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy]

3.00 pm – 6.15 pm
Opening worship
Formal business
Response on behalf of ecumenical guests by the Archbishop of Uppsala
Presidential Address by the Archbishop of York

Business Committee Report

4.25 pm Approval of appointments

Amendments to the Standing Orders regarding General Synod Question time

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No. 35
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Preliminary consideration

Presentation followed by Q&A from the Ethical Investment Advisory Group and the National Investment Bodies

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Questions

Saturday 11 July

9.30 am – 1.00 pm

Legislative Business
Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure and Amending Canon No. 34 – final Drafting/Final Approval
Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations
Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Directions (deemed)
Faculty Jurisdiction Rules
Ecclesiastical Property (Exceptions from Requirement for Consent to dealings) Order
Ecclesiastical Judges etc (Fees) Order
Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order (deemed)
STV (Amendment) Regulations

Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders

2.30 pm – 6.15 pm

Farewell

Private Member’s Motion: Senior Leadership

Legislative Business
[Business not reached or completed in the morning]
[Pre-consolidation amendments to Standing Orders if not reached in the morning]

Debate on a Motion on a Report by the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

8.30 pm – 9.45 pm
EITHER
Meetings of the Convocations for the purposes of the Article 7 reference relating to the Administration of Holy Communion Regulations and/or the Baptism Texts [if required]
OR
Church Commissioners’ Annual Report

Archbishops’ Council Annual Report

Sunday 12 July

2.30 pm – 6.20 pm
Liturgical Business
Additional texts for Holy Baptism – Final Approval

Legislative Business – Any remaining legislative business followed by:
Standing Orders: Adoption of Consolidated Text
Administration of Holy Communion Regulations: Final Approval (following Article 7 referral to HoB and the Convocations / House of Laity if required)

Diocesan Synod Motion: Nature and Structure of the Church of England: National Debate

Presentation on follow-up to GS 1844 – Unfinished Business by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC)

Introduction to Group Work and Bible Study on the Environment

8.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Financial Business
Archbishops’ Council’s Budget 2016

Presentation on National Society Development of Teaching and Educational Leadership Partnerships

Monday 13 July

9.30 am – 11.00 am
Worship (in small groups)

Group Work and Bible Study on the subject of the Environment

11.30 – 1.00 pm
Debate on a Motion on the Paris Summit from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

2.30 pm – 5.45 pm
Debate on a Motion on Climate Change and Investment Policy from the National Investing Bodies

Farewells

BREAK

4.45 pm End of Synod Communion in Central Hall
5.45 pm Prorogation

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Second Church Estates Commissioner: Caroline Spelman

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 21 May 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Government efficiency, transparency and accountability

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

The Queen has approved the appointment of Mrs Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner.

Note for editors

Caroline Spelman has been the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands since 1997. She is a former Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is a confirmed member of the Church of England.

The Second Commissioner is a Member of Parliament and answers to Parliament for the business of the Commissioners. Mrs Spelman succeeds Sir Tony Baldry, who did not stand for re-election in the recent general election.

There is a much longer press release from the Church Commissioners, which is copied below the fold.

The Church Commissioners welcome the announcement of Caroline Spelman as Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church Commissioners for England have today welcomed the Crown appointment of the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP as Second Church Estates Commissioner, replacing the Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry.

The role of the Second Church Estates Commissioner is to provide a link between Government, Parliament and the established Church. The Second Church Estates Commissioner answers oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters in the House of Commons, is a member of Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee and steers Church of England legislation through the House of Commons. She is also an ex-officio member of the General Synod and a member of the Church Commissioners’ Board of Governors.

Welcoming Caroline Spelman’s appointment, Andrew Brown, Secretary Chairman to the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted with the appointment of Caroline as the Second Church Estates Commissioner and look forward to working with her. Caroline has a strong commitment to the church and its mission to local communities. This is vital to the Church Commissioners as we carry out the work and mission of the Church of England.”

Commenting on her appointment Caroline Spelman, said: “I am honoured to be asked to undertake this role as the Church is important for the future of our country and I want to help it navigate the challenges of the modern world with the support of our parliamentarians.”

Caroline Spelman has held a number of leading parliamentary posts, including from 2010-12 Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She has also been Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Shadow Minister for Women, Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Shadow Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government. She has also been a member of a number of Parliamentary committees, including the Environmental Audit Select Committee and Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill. She has represented the Parliamentary constituency of Meriden since 1997, a West Midlands seat containing a wide socio-economic mix, which is in both the Birmingham and Coventry dioceses.

Caroline is a former agriculture specialist, holds a BA in European studies from Queen Mary College London, is Vice Chair of Tearfund and Patron of Welcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity.

A committed and lifelong Anglican, she worships at Knowle Parish Church in her Meriden constituency, has been a longstanding member of the Christians in Parliament all party group and joined the Ecclesiastical Committee in 2014. In March 2014 she initiated a House of Commons debate on the contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England.

Caroline likes choral singing and is chair of the Parliamentary Choir.

Background on Caroline Spelman:

Parliamentary Career
Elected MP, Meriden, 1997
Opposition Whip 1998-99;
Board member Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) 1997-2001;
Opposition Spokesperson for:
Health 1999-2001,
Women’s Issues 1999-2001;
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development 2001-03;
Shadow Minister for Women 2001-04;
Shadow Secretary of State for:
the Environment 2003-04,
Local and Devolved Government Affairs 2004-05,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister/Communities and Local Government 2005-07, 2009-10;
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 2010-12

Past Select committees
Member:
Science and Technology 1997-98,
Environmental Audit 2013-,
Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill 2014,
Ecclesiastical Committee 2014-

Further education
Queen Mary College, London (BA European studies 1980)

Ends

Notes to Editors:
The Church Commissioners for England
The Church Commissioners manage an investment fund of £6.7 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio, including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community. The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving the retired clergy

The Church Commissioners annual report can be viewed here.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act

The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.

The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is before 11 July, Rachel will fill the vacancy created by the Bishop of Leicester’s retirement and become the first female Lord Spiritual.

Bishop Tim’s retirement has another consequence as he has been the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual for the last six years. It was announced yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, to be the new convenor. The announcement includes this job description: “The Convenor ensures that the work of the Lords Spiritual is coordinated and supported and that the interests of the Bishops’ Bench are represented fully in and outside Parliament. The Convenor is the primary point of contact and liaison on behalf of the Bishops’ Bench for the party leaderships in the Lords, Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, officials and business managers.”

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Sunday, 17 May 2015

More reactions to the Shared Conversations

Conversations have now taken place in three of the regions. Links to all the reactions so far can be found here and that article will be updated further as new ones appear.

Two of the new ones are especially noteworthy:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 17 May 2015 at 7:38pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 May 2015

Church Commissioners' results 2014 - and the task groups

Updated

The Church Commissioners have released their Annual Report for 2014 today. There is also a press release, highlighting a “total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014”, and this is copied below the fold.

The report includes an overview from Andreas Whittam Smith, the First Church Estates Commissioner, which includes the following paragraphs on the Archbishops’ Task Groups.

LOOKING AHEAD

By coincidence, one of the factors that contributed to the Church Commissioners’ difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been the subject of lively discussion in recent months. I refer to the principle of inter-generational equity, which means that the Commissioners, advised by their actuaries, should only distribute such sums to their beneficiaries as will enable the value of the endowment to be maintained in real terms through time. This policy has been followed rigidly for more than 20 years.

Now Task Groups, set up by the Archbishops, have made ambitious proposals to equip the Church for the future. The Church Commissioners strongly welcome these initiatives. However, financing such plans would likely require the Commissioners to provide additional funds over and above their normal distributions.

The arguments in favour and against such a course were fully explored in a paper presented to General Synod in February 2015. A distinction was drawn between ‘bad’ over-distribution and ‘good’ over-distribution. The good version, which is now envisaged, is undertaken for a clear purpose, in response to plans that are evidence based, is fully costed and is entered into with the agreement and understanding of all parties and there are safeguards in place. It should be seen as an investment in the church to encourage growth. In addition a successful outcome would have, as a by-product, an increase in the Church’s financial strength.

Accordingly at General Synod in February, I moved a motion that invited members to ‘support the Commissioners’ in releasing additional funds to support changes to ‘equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission’. Large majorities approved the motion…

The paper referred to is GS 1981 Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity, and the motion carried by Synod was:

‘That this Synod,

welcoming GS 1981; and

noting that the funds of the Church Commissioners are a permanent endowment, held in perpetuity to support the Church of England as it seeks to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation,

support the Commissioners, in consultation with the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, giving consideration to the basis on which they might, for a limited period, release additional funds in order to support changes that will equip the Church of England more effectively for sustainable mission and ministry over the coming generations.’

Barney Thompson has written about the report for The Financial Times: Church of England blessed by property boom.

Update

James Moore Independent Church to splash out on clergy as booming investments pass £6.7bn

Tim Wyatt Church Times Commissioners use shareholder clout to combat excessive pay deals

Church Commissioners announce total return on investments at 14.4% in 2014
15 May 2015

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their 2014 financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2014 was 14.4 per cent. The Commissioners exceeded their long-term target rate of RPI + 5 percentage points. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.8% per annum. After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £6.7billion at the end of 2014.

In 2014 the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was almost £215 million accounting for 16% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Independent research carried out at the end of 2014 suggested the Commissioners were one of the largest charitable givers in the UK and the eighth largest globally.* Commissioner funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

The Commissioners expended £123 million in supporting pensions for retired clergy.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “Through continued strong ethical and sustainable financial performance we help provide for the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church of England. We continue to identify and help fund the Church’s work and mission in communities throughout England.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

  • Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
  • Providing funds to support strategic mission activities like:

Supporting “Sensing Salvation” in Ely which works with two non-church schools running innovative arts projects

Providing funding in Bristol where Rachel Hepburn’s mission work is funded by a grant to act as a community line worker in a new housing development

Funding for the Burnside Youth and Community centre in Langley. A grant supports the work of the Children’s centre activities, running holiday play schemes and providing a safe, stimulating and positive environment judged to be Outstanding by OFSTED

Financial support of fresh expressions of Church such as the Holy Ground service at Exeter Cathedral

Growth and diversification:

Notable performance was delivered in property, private credit and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and totalled just under £2bn at the end of 2014 with an average return of 27%, predominantly from capital growth, including realised gains on sales.

The private credit portfolio which started in 2012 saw two new commitments in 2014 totalling £51million. In total these strategies generated a combined return of 10.2% in 2014.

The Church Commissioners, with the recent purchase of forests in Scotland and Wales, also became the largest private owner of forestry in the UK. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 22.3% in 2014.

Responsible investment:

The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2014 the Commissioners appointed Edward Mason as Head of Responsible Investment, underscoring their commitment to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

The Church Commissioners have just won the Best implementation of Responsible Investment category at the Portfolio Institutional Awards 2015 where they were praised for strategic engagement with companies, their record on sustainability and the integration of ESG into investment decision-making.

Notes to Editors:

The annual report can be accessed in full here.

The Church Commissioners have also published a 2014 Annual Review, sharing stories of support across the country for the Church of England’s mission and ministry. Case studies include funding for mission in new housing and other development areas, parish ministry and mission, and supporting major growth and change projects in Dioceses.
The annual review is available here.

The responsible investment review can be viewed at here.

Two films accompanying the release of the annual report - including an interview with Andrew Brown - can be viewed here and here.

In 2014 the Church Commissioners funded 28 projects from the £2.9m funding for developing Church growth in deprived areas. Sensing Salvation is one such example of an innovative arts project. In this blog the Revd Paul West talks about this innovative art project in the Ely diocese.

Further examples of funding provided by the Commissioners can be found in the Resourcing Mission Bulletins.

*City AM World Charity Index named the Church Commissioners as the eighth largest charitable donor globally and the second largest in the UK after the Wellcome Trust.

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

CNC fails to fill Oxford vacancy

The Crown Nominations Commission held its second meeting to consider the vacancy in the see of Oxford on Monday and Tuesday of this week (11 and 12 May) but failed to make a decision. The Archbishop of Canterbury has today issued this statement:

From the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Oxford

Vacancy in the See of Oxford

An update from the Archbishop of Canterbury - Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission

You will be aware that the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) met on the 11th and 12th May to consider the nomination of the next Bishop of Oxford and to meet with possible candidates.

I am writing to advise that the Commission has been unable to discern the candidate whom God is calling at this stage to be the next Bishop of Oxford. Under the election rules under which we operate, in a secret ballot no candidate received the required number of votes for nomination.

Although the CNC has a number of meetings scheduled for later this year they are reserved for the consideration of other Dioceses. It is unfortunately impossible to add further demands on the time of the voluntary members of the CNC, who have their own jobs as well. The Oxford CNC will therefore reconvene on the 4th February 2016 with the second meeting on the 7th/8th March 2016. Bishop Colin will continue to provide oversight to the diocese as he has done over the past few months during the interregnum and I am very grateful to him for this.

Many of you will have had the CNC in your prayers and I thank you for them. I will continue to keep the diocese in my prayers over the next months. This will not be the news that you wanted to hear but please take this as a sign of the CNC’s commitment to finding the right person to be your next bishop.

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Resourcing Ministerial Education: another chapter

Updated

Readers may recall this report: Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.

Today, Julian Hubbard, who is the Director of Ministry Division at the Archbishops’ Council, has published an article about the planned new programme of research in support of the programme for Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Read the article here: Developing strategic capacity for dioceses in ministerial education.

Read the more detailed paper submitted to the Ministry Council here: Developing Diocesan Strategic Capacity: Research Insight.

The covering note from Julian Hubbard concludes this way:

…The proposals are for long term research and are not about quick results. The RME work has made evident what many of us knew, that the church is changing rapidly and training needs are following suit. To capture this as well as doing justice to what we have inherited in terms of theological understanding of ministry takes time. We want to pursue the research collaboratively with dioceses and TEIs. An important part of the initial research was to ask for what research TEIs had already done and we want to continue that relationship in the next stages. This will be in conjunction with the theological conversation on expressing a theology of ministry which has begun between a group of bishops, theologians and theological educators which will come to fruition at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September 2015.

No doubt the commentary on the proposed research will raise again the question whether the current research findings are an adequate basis for proceeding with the proposals. I would suggest that those who ask that question actually look at what the proposals are: they do not favour any particular pathway on abstract or ideological grounds. They are appreciative of what each of the forms of training can offer and confident that they can all make a contribution. They allow the exercise of intelligent judgement about the needs of the individual candidate and the hopes and needs of the church in relation to them. The intelligence about such decisions will grow as the body of data and information develops through the research.

Staff at the Ministry Division look forward to supporting dioceses and TEIs in this process both through conducting the research and offering consultancy and advice about pathways and candidates. There is sufficient basis for moving forward to the next stage. The alternative of waiting ten or even five years so that we have a “final” view is not a reality: when would such a final view ever be achieved? And in the meantime, candidates are still subjected to a regime of regulations which are less and less applicable and might be wasting the valuable resource of their time, as well as money. And the urgency which is widely agreed as a necessary response to the situation of the Church of England is lost, along with opportunities for growth and innovation. Maybe a little more faith in God who will meet us on the way and guide us is called for?

Update

The Church Times has a report by Madeleine Davies headlined Ministry Council officers say quality research is lacking which includes this:

…The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, is among those who have expressed concern about the RME report (Letter, 27 March; News, 17 April). On Wednesday, he said that the admission of “several key limitations” was “very welcome indeed”. He said that the authors were “reluctant to acknowledge just how disabling the criticisms are for the overall strength of RME”.

He also questioned whether the new research proposed would solve the problems identified in the report: “The three core concepts they want to clarify are the nature of ministry, education, and the nature of contemporary society - vast and complex issues, indeed, which will not be decisively ‘clarified’ by the research they propose. . .

“What is necessary, first and foremost, is a vision of what theological education for the whole Church - for the whole people of God - ought to look like. The abiding impression that this document leaves, for all its good intentions, to my mind, is that we are not confident on theological vision as a Church, but much too trusting in the security and decisiveness of empirical research.”

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Bishop Michael Perham

Updated again 17 May

Lambeth Palace has released the following statement concerning Bishop Michael Perham, the retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Statement on retired Bishop of Gloucester

Monday 11th May 2015
Statement in relation to the Rt Revd Michael Perham, retired Bishop of Gloucester.

Following a police investigation concerning Bishop Michael Perham last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. With the full co-operation of the Bishop an independent risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and as a result Bishop Michael will be able to take up Ministry in retirement, and the postponed farewells for him in Gloucester can now take place.

We will be making no further comment on this matter.

The Diocese of Gloucester has this announcement: Bishop Michael

Statement from Rt Revd Michael Perham on the conclusion of the church process

11 May 2015

“I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive.
“The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions.
“I am, of course, immensely heartened that I can now return to ministry in my retirement. I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process.
“Now I can look forward to a celebration in Gloucester to bring my ministry there as its bishop for 10 years to a proper conclusion and, afterwards, to a new phase of being a priest and bishop in active retirement.”

Statement from the Diocese of Gloucester in response to news from Lambeth Palace

11 May 2015

“The Diocese of Gloucester welcomes today’s statement from Lambeth Palace concerning the Rt Revd Michael Perham. Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy. We are gladdened by today’s news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement. We look forward to marking Bishop Michael’s committed and dedicated ministry to this diocese, with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 13 June.”

Update 17 May

There is a BBC report including an interview with Bishop Michael:
Ex-Bishop of Gloucester Michael Perham calls for law change.

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Friday, 8 May 2015

Reform and Renewal defended and then criticised

Last week, the Church Times carried an article by William Fittall, under the headline Plans to proclaim the faith afresh with the strapline There is no cause to be fatalistic about church decline.

This was also published on the official church website, where it had the headline Reform and renewal - a guide to the debate.

Church Times readers attempting to follow the discussions about the emerging “Reform and Renewal” programme in the Church of England may, by now, be somewhat baffled. There have been suggestions that the proposals are theologically lightweight, based on questionable research, too managerial and even that one of the undergirding concepts – discipleship – is not to be found in the New Testament!

As the Archbishops said in their paper to the Synod, the challenge of reform and renewal is spiritual. We shall ultimately be building on sand unless what we do is underpinned by prayer and an unshakable confidence in God, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or conceive.

The starting point for the programme is a recognition that the Church of England’s capacity to proclaim the faith afresh in each generation will be decisively eroded unless the trend towards older and smaller worshipping communities is reversed. Some seem reluctant to face up to the consequences of this, while others doubt that anything will make much difference. Such fatalism was absent when the proposals were discussed by the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and the General Synod…

This week Paul Handley reports in the Church Times on a symposium held last Friday in Oxford, Oxford group challenges talent quest.

THE idea that future leaders of the Church of England should be talent-spotted and groomed came in for sustained criticism at a symposium in Oxford last Friday.

The title of the symposium was “Apostolic Leadership for an Apostolic Church”. It had been convened by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, in response to the “literally hundreds” of letters and emails he had received after his critique of the Green report…

One of the participants, Andrew Lightbown, published this article: Questions over episcopal leadership post Green and RME.

It has been interesting watching how ‘head office’ is reacting to critics of the raft of reports recently issued on behalf of the Church of England.

For many it feels as though conversion about, and participation in, decision making processes are simply not welcome.

Critics are all too quickly rebuffed: William Fittall, writing in the Church Times last week (1st May) was keen to dismiss Alister McGrath’s analysis of Resourcing Ministerial Education and, the Green Report. Mark Hart’s analysis of From Anecdote to Evidence was, in the previous edition, given short shift by those ‘in the know.’

Now it could be that all the recent reports are spot on in their analysis and, that those who wish to critique or participate in wider discussion are overly worried.

But, this in itself should not be a reason to close down conversation, for the real issue has now become the style of leadership to which the church is becoming accustomed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 May 2015 at 10:09pm BST | Comments (4)
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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Bishop of Maidstone - news and reactions

Updated

reactions

Forward in Faith

Anglican Mission in England

Reform

press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Leader of campaign against women bishops is made a bishop in bid to avert CofE split

Tim Wyatt Church Times C of E honours its pledge to appoint a ‘headship’ Evangelical as bishop

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today ‘Male headship’ campaigner appointed as CofE bishop

Update

statement by WATCH (Women and the Church)

John Martin The Living Church Prebendary Thomas Steps Up

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Rod Thomas to be Bishop of Maidstone

Press release from the Number 10 website.

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone: Roderick Charles Howell Thomas

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 5 May 2015
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of Roderick Charles Howell Thomas to the Suffragan See of Maidstone in the Diocese of Canterbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Charles Howell Thomas, BSc (Econ), Vicar of Elburton, to the Suffragan See of Maidstone, in the Diocese of Canterbury. He will succeed the Right Reverend Graham Cray who became leader of the Archbishops’ Fresh Expressions Team in 2009. The See has been vacant since then. In December 2014, the Dioceses Commission agreed to a proposal from the Archbishops to fill the See in order to provide a bishop who takes the conservative evangelical view on male headship.

Notes to editors

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995.

From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Prebendary Roderick Thomas is married to Lesley and they have 3 children. Prebendary Roderick Thomas has chaired Reform, a network for conservative evangelicals in the Church of England, since 2007. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

There is also a press release from Lambeth Palace, copied below the fold.

Press release from Lambeth Palace

Suffragan Bishop of Maidstone announced
Tuesday 5th May 2015

The Revd Prebendary Roderick Thomas will be the next Bishop of Maidstone.

Downing Street has today announced that the next Bishop of Maidstone will be the Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, currently Vicar of Elburton in the Diocese of Exeter.

The appointment of Rod Thomas follows a meeting of the Dioceses Commission in December at which unanimous agreement was given to a proposal from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the see, which has been vacant since 2009, with a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flowed from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013- GS Misc 1079). In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see, the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

The See of Maidstone is in the Diocese of Canterbury and Rod Thomas will be available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral. However, given his potentially wide geographical remit, he will not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

Rod Thomas’s specific duties as Bishop of Maidstone will include: fostering vocations from those taking a conservative evangelical position on headship; undertaking episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and being available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

The date of Rod Thomas’s consecration is yet to be confirmed. He succeeds the Rt Revd Graham Cray, who was Bishop of Maidstone from 2001 to 2009 and Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions from 2009 to 2014.

Welcoming the news, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am personally delighted that Rod Thomas has agreed to take up the post of Bishop of Maidstone. Rod has served the church tirelessly, both as a parish priest and as a member of the General Synod, and engaged constructively and graciously with those of differing theological views. It is my hope and prayer that Rod’s distinctive ministry as Bishop of Maidstone will enable those with a conservative evangelical view of headship to flourish and to be assured that the Church of England has a respected place for them.”

The Reverend Prebendary Rod Thomas said: “It is both a privilege and a challenge to be asked to become a Bishop in the Church of England. The prospect of serving as the Bishop of Maidstone is similarly both exciting and daunting, and so I ask for prayer that God will give me the necessary strength and wisdom. My hope for the Bishop of Maidstone’s new role is that it will help to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ; encourage church members in their faith and witness; and generate widespread confidence in our commitment, as a church, to mutual flourishing.”

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said: “In arriving at the arrangements which have now led to three women being nominated as bishops, it was clear that the voice of those taking a conservative position on male headship also needed to be honoured. This was in the context of the five guiding principles which seek to make space within the Church of England for those of differing theological convictions to continue to flourish. It was this concern which led to the identification of the See of Maidstone for a bishop who holds to that conservative position.

“Having chaired the Steering Committee which produced the legislation and accompanying arrangements, I am very pleased that Rod Thomas has been nominated for this appointment. Rod was himself a member of that Committee; he played a very full and constructive part in our discussions, and spoke generously about the outcome in the crucial General Synod debate in July 2014. I look forward to working with Rod again, this time within the fellowship of the College of Bishops.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Wherever possible, and so that our divisions may not get in the way of the world seeing and receiving Christ, the church needs to learn a new spirit of generosity where different views on some issues are able to live alongside each other in as much communion as possible. I therefore welcome the appointment of Rod Thomas as the new Bishop of Maidstone and look forward to working with him in the Chelmsford diocese where I hope he will serve as an Assistant Bishop. His presence and ministry will give confidence to many in the church and show that it is possible to disagree well.”

About the Revered Prebendary Roderick Thomas

The Reverend Prebendary Roderick Thomas, aged 60, studied at the London School of Economics and subsequently became the Director of Employment and Environmental Affairs at the CBI. He trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his Curacy at Plymouth St Andrew with St Paul and St George in the Diocese of Exeter from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1999 he was Curate at Plymouth St Andrew. From 1999 to 2005 he was Priest-in-Charge of Elburton and has been Vicar of Elburton since 2005. He has been a member of the General Synod since 2000 and a Prebendary at Exeter Cathedral since 2012.

Rod Thomas is married to Lesley and they have three children. His interests include boating, walking the South West Coast Path, and carpentry.

Notes to Editors

  • Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.
  • Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.
  • This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004 [GS 1557]. View the report here.
  • The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full here.
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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Participants reflect on the Shared Conversations

Updated 8, 14, 17 and 20 May

Two people so far have written about their experiences at the first regional session of the Shared Conversations. This involved dioceses in the South West. The second session takes place this coming week for Yorkshire dioceses.

Rose Grigg has written here: Reflections on the first Shared Conversations.

Erika Baker has written: The Shared Conversations which I have published on TA.

If further articles by participants appear, I will of course add links to them.

Further reflections

Jeremy Pemberton has written about the East Midlands Conversation: Shared Conversations – Talking in Circles

Richard Coles has two contributions, one is a sound clip of his Radio 2 Pause for Thought, the other is a written one, both can be found here on the Changing Attitude blog for Shared Conversations.

Graham Rutter Reflection on Shared Conversations

Tim Moore Tim Moore’s reflections: Yorkshire (7th – 9th May 2015)

Ruth Wilde Ruth Wilde’s reflections (East Midlands 11th-13th May 2015)

Update
The Church Times carries a news report today, Shared Conversations: praise for three days in hotel talking of sexuality and there is also Leader Comment: Sharing and Caring.

Mention is made in the above of a commentary from Anglican Mainstream. The full text of the latter can be found here.

Earlier, Ruth Gledhill had written this report for Christian Today: Church of England begins ‘shared conversations’ on human sexuality - can it reach ‘good disagreement’?

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

General Synod miscellaneous

The Report of Proceedings of the February 2015 meeting of General Synod is now available online. This comprises a verbatim transcript of the complete proceedings. It also includes the questions (and their answers) that were for written answer and those which were not reached in the time available.

General Synod will be dissolved after the July 2015 group of sessions, and elections for a new Synod held between mid-July and mid-October. The Church of England website has a series of pages about these elections.

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Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester

I reported here on this week’s decision of the Court of Appeal in Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester that Mr Sharpe was not an “employee” of the Bishop of Worcester or a “worker” for the purposes of employment law. I also linked to some early reactions.

Law & Religion UK has now published this analysis by Russell Sandberg of the Cardiff Law School: Not a Sharpe Turn: a note on Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester.

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Friday, 1 May 2015

“Bishop for church-plants”

We reported in March on the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the suffragan see of Islington to provide a “bishop for church-plants”. The Dioceses Commission has now given its approval to the proposal.

The official press release is here, and is copied below.

Go ahead for church planting bishop for See of Islington
01 May 2015

The Dioceses Commission has given its approval to revive the See* of Islington paving the way for a new bishop to lead on church planting within the Diocese of London.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Commission expressing his strong support for the new See. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, formally submitted a proposal to the Commission laying out the support of both the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop’s Council.

Most bishops exercise their ministry within a defined geographical area. The proposal to revive the See of Islington is innovative as the bishop would hold a particular brief for church-planting initiatives primarily in the Diocese of London but to provide advice for other dioceses across England as invited to do so by the local bishop.

The Commission first looked at the Bishop of London’s proposal to revive the See of Islington at its meeting in September last year before it was being discussed by the London Diocesan Synod.

The Bishop of London has emphasised that the new bishop would be accountable to him and be part of the London Diocese’s senior team, playing his/her part in carrying out episcopal functions, such as confirmations, in the diocese and in particularly in supporting clergy in pioneer ministry.

Professor Michael Clarke, Chair of the Dioceses Commission, said: “The Commission looked very carefully at the Bishop of London’s proposal, and, in the light of clarification of the intended role of the new bishop, gave it a green light. As with our recent scheme radically reshaping dioceses in West Yorkshire, we are keen to play our part in adapting the Church’s structures to meet current mission needs.”

Following the Commission’s consent, the way is now open to appoint someone with a view to the new bishop being consecrated later in the year.

See also Diocese of London.

Notes for editors

The Dioceses Commission has particular responsibility for episcopal oversight across the Church of England and suffragan sees, such as this one, cannot normally be filled without its agreement. The creation of wholly new sees would nevertheless also require the consent of the General Synod. In this case the See of Islington had been created in the late 19th Century but had been left unfilled since 1923.

Church-planting was given a stimulus by the seminal 2004 Church Report Mission Shaped Church. This report recognised that ‘the existing parochial system alone is no longer able fully to deliver its underlying mission purpose…’ and that ‘a variety of integrated missionary approaches is required’ with ‘a mixed economy of parish churches and network churches.’ It described church plants as ‘creating new communities of Christian faith as part of the mission of God to express God’s kingdom in every geographic and cultural context.’ It is estimated that there are c.1,000 such Fresh Expressions across the Church of England attended by c.30,000 people. (See here.)

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Church of England and the low carbon economy

The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board last night announced a £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.

National Investing Bodies and transition to a low carbon economy

30 April 2015

The Church Commissioners and The Church of England Pensions Board have today announced the £12million divestment from thermal coal and tar sands.

From today neither body, nor the CBF Church of England funds, will make any direct investments in any company where more than 10% of its revenues are derived from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands.

This announcement coincides with the adoption of a new climate change policy recommended by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) that sets out how the three national investing bodies (NIBs) will support the transition to a low carbon economy…

The full policy is here.

Richard Burridge, the deputy chair of the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, writes about the new policy: CofE national investing bodies and transition to low carbon economy.

Press reports

Pilita Clark Financial Times Church of England blacklists coal and tar sands investments

Adam Vaughan The Guardian Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels

BBC News Church of England to sell fossil fuel investments

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Former Worcestershire vicar "not an employee"

Updated

From the Worcester diocesan website

Court of Appeal upholds clergy freedom

30 Apr 2015 By Sam Setchell

The Court of Appeal has upheld the freedom of clergy to be office holders rather than employees with its judgement in the case regarding former Worcestershire vicar, Mark Sharpe.

The court has agreed with the initial judgement of the Employment Tribunal, which ruled that Mr Sharpe was not an employee of the Bishop, the Diocese or anyone else.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge said: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has taken this view of the matter. There has been considerable consultation with the clergy on this issue as well as discussions at General Synod, and clergy have consistently said that they don’t wish to change their status as office holders. To become employees, clergy would lose the freedoms which are at the heart of the Church’s ministry and this is not something that they want to give up.

It is regrettable that UNITE fails to understand the context in which parish clergy exercise their ministry whilst the Church seeks to uphold the freedoms enjoyed by its clergy.”

Bishop John continued: “Mr. Sharpe’s claims of the various incidents which despoiled his ministry in Teme Valley South are disheartening to read. However I am encouraged to note that the clergy who have ministered in these churches both before and since Mr Sharpe’s appointment have all spoken very warmly of the people there and their experience doesn’t reflect any of the negativity that Mr Sharpe claims to have faced.”

BBC News has this brief report: Worcester vicar loses unfair dismissal appeal.

Updates

The full judgment of the Court of Appeal is here.

Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK Church of England freehold incumbents not “employees”: Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester

Steven Morris The Guardian Vicar who claimed he was victim of four-year hate campaign loses court battle

Gavin Drake Church Times Clergy are office-holders, not employees, appeal court rules

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West Yorkshire and the Dales to get another bishop

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales announced yesterday that it is to get another suffragan bishop in addition to the four it already has.

New Suffragan Bishop for the Diocese

In a move designed to add necessary capacity to the diocese’s leadership, the See of Richmond (which has been dormant since 1921) is to be revived to enable the appointment of a Suffragan Bishop for the diocese. The Bishop will mainly cover the Bishop of Leeds’ work in the Leeds Episcopal Area, working with clergy and parishes, and will occasionally deputise for Bishop Nick, who will remain Area Bishop of Leeds.

Bishop Nick says, “The need for this post is both urgent and pragmatic. After nine months it’s become apparent that it is not possible for one person to do the three jobs that my current role entails, ie., Diocesan Bishop of a very large diocese, Area Bishop of Leeds as well as the strategic leadership of the setting up of a brand new diocese (to say nothing of the national and international responsibilities carried by a diocesan bishop). This will free me up to attend to the macro work of the diocese (and help speed up the process of transition) as well as giving the Leeds Area the full attention it needs.

“We argued from the beginning that, at least for the first few years of this new diocese, the Diocesan Bishop would not have the capacity to also be the Area Bishop of Leeds. I’m glad that the validity of that argument has now been recognised.

“Because of the urgency, we need someone who can begin quickly, who knows the structures and complexity of the diocese and is someone whom I can trust, so the process for this appointment will be expedited, with a view to the person appointed starting in the summer or autumn.”

The reviving of the See of Richmond has received the full support of the Bishop’s Council and has been agreed by the Archbishop of York, the Dioceses Commission and the Church Commissioners. The post will be paid for by the Church Commissioners; the only cost to the diocese will be housing.

The appointment will be made under Common Tenure (ie. it won’t be time limited), but when the post is eventually vacated, the Diocesan Bishop would need to petition the Dioceses Commission to refill it, if appropriate.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Refugees are humans

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, has written an article: Bishop of Manchester: I want leaders who look on migrants with compassion.

Refugees do not come to sponge off our benefits system, but because they have been driven from their homes by conflict and persecution

Briefly, last week, migration got a face, a human face. It’s not usually handled like that across much of the UK media, but the tragic plight of desperate families drowning in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe forced us out of our comfortable discourse about an amorphous “them”.

Migrants, we saw, are real human beings, not the “cockroaches” that one columnist had described them as only a few days earlier. Hundreds have died already this year in the effort to cross from north Africa.

Save the Children, one of Britain’s most reputable charities, estimates 2,500 children could lose their lives along the Mediterranean refugee route in 2015.

The asylum seekers washing up, sometimes all too literally, on Europe’s shores, are not driven to put their lives, and their families’ lives, on the line because they’ve heard that the UK has a generous benefits system. They take appalling risks.

They trust themselves and whatever little money they can scrape together to people smugglers and to overcrowded boats, because life at home has become desperate. They are pushed, not pulled, towards the EU, forced out of their homelands by war, terrorism and the persecution of minorities….

There is also a news article about this, Bishop says Britain has a moral duty to accept refugees from its wars.

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Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update

Readers may recall that just before General Synod met in February the Bishop of Sheffield issued a note which was titled Financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education

Today, he has issued another note, this one is titled Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update.

The full text is copied below the fold.

The article to which he refers by Alister McGrath can be found linked from here.

And there was this other article reporting More criticism for Resourcing Ministerial Education.

Resourcing Ministerial Education - An update

There have been a number of developments in the ongoing RME process since General Synod. Questions have been in recent weeks in correspondence, in the Church Press and online. It seems a good moment to offer an update and some answers to the questions.

What’s happening now?

We’re in the midst of a process of engagement and consultation about the Reform and Renewal programme as a whole (there is a box on the front of the Church of England webpage dedicated to reform and renewal updates). There are a number of elements to this.

1. Members of the Archbishops’ Council and staff members are making visits to dioceses to explore the proposals as a whole and to seek feedback at Diocesan Synods, Bishops Councils and a range of other meetings. There has been a high takeup. The feedback from the meetings is positive.

2. Lead staff members are also making a second round of visits to Bishops and their staff to test out the outworking and possible modification of the proposals.

3. A questionnaire has been sent to all dioceses and theological education institutions on the details of the RME proposals and we have had a high rate of return.

4. There are large number of other meetings and conversations around this agenda, including with theological educators.

This process of gathering feedback and engagement will take a number of months.

What’s the feedback been like so far?

As you’d expect, there’s been a wide range of responses. The vision in the RME proposals has been warmly welcomed, as in the General Synod debates. There are a range of positive and negative responses to the specific proposals – some quite bracing to read and others much more positive.

It’s already clear (and was clear at Synod) that the original proposals will need a good deal of development and that (as we expected) far more detail will be required before decisions can be taken.

What is the process from here ?

The RME Task Group completed its work in January and so the process from here is being overseen by the Ministry Council, the Archbishops Council and the House of Bishops, who all have an important stake in the eventual outcomes.

We are hoping that a more developed set of proposals will be published in the early autumn – but it may take longer than this.

Is there a sufficient theological rationale for the changes?

The RME Report has been criticized for having an insufficient theological rationale. We will certainly try and make this rationale more explicit in the next group of proposals.

However, it was never the purpose of the RME report to develop this rationale from first principles. Paragraph 10 articulates the need for an iterative dialogue between the present needs of the Church and Scripture and tradition. The same paragraph sets the report within the formularies of the Church of England about ordination (including the ordinal).

Paragraph 14 clearly proposes retaining the diversity of the present pattern of training and the Common Awards. Paragraph 31 expresses full confidence in present patterns of IME and affirms the ongoing need for a mixed economy of residential, non-residential and context based training.

The report is about the future resourcing of ministerial education. It is fundamentally about how best to get best value from and where necessary increase the resources available, ensure that theological education is lifelong, more flexible, extends to lay people as well as the ordained, and that the best possible such education is offered to the largest number of people.

Is the report negative about academic theology and research?

Not at all. This point has been raised by Alister McGrath in his Church Times article of 17th April where he detects a “hostility to theological scholarship”. I’ve reread the report several times for anything which might indicate this and I can’t find it. Nor can I find any evidence for the view that theological engagement with ministry is seen as peripheral, a luxury or divisive. The RME Task Group would have identified wholeheartedly with Alister’s paragraphs on theological vision for ministry. We simply assumed that this would be shared ground.

Nor do the existing recommendations mean that there will be less engagement with theology degrees in the universities. Proposal 3, paragraph 36, argues for the continuation of research degree funding and the higher cost pathways in theology departments, though with more flexibility for dioceses than previously.

Is this all a cost-cutting exercise?

Emphatically not. See paragraph 15: “The full range of proposals put forward require further resources. We have identified a first estimate of what an increase in present investment might achieve (in other words another £10 m per annum).

This would be the biggest single uplift in investment in theological education the Church of England has made for a generation.

However in order to increase this investment we have to be absolutely sure that we are being good stewards of our present investment and that any new funds will have the outcomes the Church needs.

Will this mean a decline in residential training ?

This question was raised before the General Synod and I answered it in an earlier blog post.

Much will depend on the level at which the standard grant is set, on the provision for family maintenance which is made and on the framework for decisions about candidates provided by the proposed Bishop’s Guidelines. But with the intended 50% increase in the number of ordinands none of the three modes of training- residential, course and context based- needs to be anxious.

The evidence from all across the Church of England is that bishops, parishes, and clergy all place a high value on residential training as part of the mixed economy of training we need for the future.

Is more clergy the answer?

A number of people have raised the question of whether simply ordaining more clergy is an answer to the range of challenges we face and will lead to the growth we are seeking.

The hardest single point to communicate in the whole RME proposals is that a large increase in people offering for ministry will not lead to an increase in the total number of clergy.

We are facing a significant fall in the number of stipendiary clergy even on the most hopeful scenario of a 50% increase in vocations.

If we do nothing we face a very steep fall indeed in the clergy who will be available to dioceses in ten years time. Clergy are already very stretched across many dioceses. Dioceses, clergy and parishes are already very imaginative in rethinking deployment and patterns of working and that needs to continue. But the kind of reduction we are facing would mean a radical change to the Church of England’s ability to sustain Christian communities in every part of the country.

This is a situation we cannot ignore for the sake of future generations. The effects will be felt most in dioceses with fewer resources, in areas of unfashionable deprivation, in poorer communities. The evidence of the feedback and debate is that some sections of the Church of England have not yet faced these uncomfortable realities.

RME is not arguing for more clergy than we have now. It is putting the case (and urging prayer and action) for more vocations to all kinds of ministry so that the mission of the Church as a whole can grow and flourish into the future.

That means addressing the funding questions as well.

Can the additional costs of training be met from “central funds” ?

Some of the contributions to the debate assume that the Church of England has a large pot of money somewhere called “central funds”.

There is at present no “core funding from central funds”. The funding for ordination training is all provided by the dioceses, mainly from the sacrificial giving of church members.

That funding is pooled. The pooling arrangement has some benefits: richer dioceses contribute more than poorer dioceses and the dioceses which produce a large number of ordinands do not bear the cost of their initial training.

However, the present arrangements also have some serious disadvantages. They are complicated and inflexible. Decisions about an ordinand’s training are separated entirely from the consequences in terms of costs. The consistent feedback from Bishops and Dioceses is that theological training institutions need to be more responsive to the changing ministerial needs of the Church as a whole.

The General Synod Vote 1 which funds ministerial education has increased by 40% between 2004 and 2014 and at a rate which is significantly above the level of inflation, even at the higher measure of RPI. The number of ordinands in training has remained broadly constant. Dioceses tell us that they are struggling to bear additional costs over and above inflation given the pressures on their own budgets.

This cost pressure comes at a time when the Church of England as a whole discerns a need to see the numbers of vocations to ordained ministry rise. For that reason we are seeking ways of connecting decisions about training more intelligently with the costs and content of that training. We are also looking at drawing down additional resources for a limited period from the Church Commissioners as part of the wider Reform and Renewal agenda discussed by the General Synod in February.

Have would any additional funding be invested?

No decisions have been made about the quantity of additional funding required or the details of how it would be invested.

The Reform and Renewal programme has a number of elements which might be included in a request to the Church Commissioners from the Archbishops Council for additional funding to be released. All of that is the subject of the present consultation.

And finally….

I do not believe that RME advocates a “corporate, management driven institutional approach’ to ministerial training as some have argued. It is a report about resourcing. The clue is in the title.

In that context, the report advocates prayer, increased investment, continuity with the present patterns of training, good stewardship and greater flexibility as the Church looks to the future.

The Reform and Renewal process as a whole is a courageous attempt to help the Church examine its future direction, face uncomfortable truths in a spirit of hope and to better equip that Church in its understanding of and participation in God’s mission. I believe these are vital proposals at a key moment in our history. They are necessary but not sufficient for the reform and renewal of the Church. Doubtless they can be improved (and they will be) as the process continues. As ever, I look forward to the continued debate.

+Steven Sheffield
28 April, 2015.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

The defence of From Anecdote to Evidence is unconvincing

We reported earlier on the critique of From Anecdote to Evidence.

This week’s Church Times contains a letter to the editor from the Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council, and the Senior Strategy Officer for the Church Commissioners which purports to respond to that criticism. Do read the letter before the reply below. Professor Voas’ presentation mentioned in the letter can be linked to here.

Mark Hart has now responded to that letter with this: From Misrepresentation to Misrepresentation. Please read the whole of his article, which rebuts the letter’s claims point by point. He concludes with this:

…More positively, the letter does not try to contradict 7 of my 8 concluding points, nor my overall conclusion that ‘according to the research, the increase in growth to be expected from the use of these factors will be nowhere near sufficient to halt the relentless generational decline, even if the resources could be found to move every lever as far as possible’.

However, they end by trying to defend the claim to have an evidence base for the Reform & Renewal programme by saying that the Church Growth Research Programme is just one part of the evidence. Yet it has repeatedly been cited as the basis, it is claimed as ‘hard information’ compared with the anecdotal, and it is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and detailed research available.

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Joe Cassidy's funeral

We reported Joe Cassidy’s untimely death here. His funeral took place last week. St Chad’s College website has this brief report.

Dr Cassidy RIP

The funeral of our much loved Principal, Joe Cassidy, took place on Friday 17th April in Durham Cathedral. It was a wonderful tribute to the man and this college, which he has done so much to shape. The order of service, Bishop David Stancliffe’s sermon and the beautiful eulogy by his daughter, Emmeline, may be seen HERE.

I’ve copied those links below.
The Order of Service
+David Stancliffe’s Sermon
Emmeline Skinner Cassidy’s Tribute

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 25 April 2015 at 10:14pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Monday, 20 April 2015

More coverage of the GAFCON primates meeting in London

We previously covered this event here.

Media coverage:

Church Times Madeline Davies GAFCON plans to touch more Anglican lives

Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Conservative Anglicans poised for ‘leap forward’, deny schism

Telegraph John Bingham Bishops back Church of England breakaway congregations

Ekklesia Savi Hensman Breakaway Anglicans’ ‘narrow way’

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines has written a critical blog article here: The real Church of England. Please read the whole article, but here is an extract:

…For a long time I have wondered if the Church of England ought not to be a little more robust in countering the misrepresentation and manipulation (of reality) that emanates from Gafcon. I am not alone. But, I have bowed to the wisdom of those who (rightly) assert that we shouldn’t counter bad behaviour with bad behaviour, and that we should trust that one day the truth will out. I am no longer so sure about the efficacy of such an eirenic response. I think we owe it to Anglicans in England and around the Communion to fight the corner and challenge the misrepresentation that is fed to other parts of the Anglican Communion. (I was once asked in Central Africa why one has to be gay to be ordained in the Church of England. I was asked in another country why the Church of England no longer reads the Bible and denies Jesus Christ. I could go on. When asked where this stuff has come from, the answer is that this is what a bishop has told them.)

The Gafcon primates say:

We are uniting faithful Anglicans, growing in momentum, structured for the future, and committed to the Anglican Communion.

Which means what – especially when they claim ‘gospel values’ and speak and behave in ways that do not reflect values of honesty, integrity and humility? And on what basis is the bulk of the Church of England reported (within Gafcon circles) as being unfaithful? And who writes the stuff they put out? Who is directing whom – who is pulling whose strings? And what would be the response if I wrote off as “unfaithful” entire provinces of the Anglican Communion where there was evidence of corruption, love of power, financial unfaithfulness or other sins? Does the ninth Commandment still apply today, or only where convenient? Is sex the only ethical matter that matters, or does breaking the ninth Commandment get a look in?

The Gafcon primates get their information (and money) from somewhere. The ‘take’ on the Church of England reflects simply the perceptions of a few. I bet the wider picture is not represented. They insinuate that some clergy and churches (decidedly congregations and not parishes – and thereby lies another issue) feel marginalised or fearful – treated like ‘pariahs’ according to Gafcon – so cannot be identified. Really? How pathetic.

I was once at a meeting of evangelical bishops in England when three English Gafcon men came to meet us. They had stated that this was the case and that bishops were giving their clergy a hard time. We asked for evidence so we could consider it before we met. Bishop Tom Wright and I were just two who were outraged at the misinformation, misrepresentation and selective re-writing of history presented to us. When we began to challenge this, we were told that we shouldn’t get bogged down in the detail and could we move on. And they got away with it. I am not making this up…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 20 April 2015 at 4:38pm BST | Comments (64) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Alister McGrath criticises Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Church Times has published an article by Alister McGrath which is headlined It’s the theology, stupid. The strapline is clearer about the content of the article: What do we want from our clergy.

His view is clear:

…TO BE asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action.

Ministry has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, standing at the intersection of God and the world. Both those dimensions need to be sustained. RME’s exclusively pragmatic approach to ministerial training risks the loss of its core motivation and inspiration for Christian ministry.

This hostility towards theological scholarship seems to reflect a lack of understanding of what theology is, and why it matters. The training that we offer our ministers must do far more than simply acquaint them with the institutional ethos of the Church of England. It must energise them through engagement with the realities of the Christian gospel…

Do read the whole article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 April 2015 at 9:30am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Friday, 17 April 2015

Church Times reports criticism of church growth document

Updated Tuesday afternoon

This week’s Church Times carries a detailed report of the analysis by Mark Hart which was reported on here earlier this week. See Cleric says report on church growth belies the research which also includes a very helpful summary of his criticisms (scroll down to read the bold print part).

There is also a Church Times leader on the subject: Lost in translation but this is available only to subscribers.

Update

The Church Times has now published a further article related to this. See

Madeleine Davies Church growth: Bishop Broadbent rounds on the critics of Reform and Renewal. The entire article should be read, but here’s a snippet:

…Several strands of criticism were addressed, including that put forward by the Revd Dr Hart, Rector of Plemstall and Guilden Sutton, last week (News, 17 April). Dr Hart’s paper, From Delusion to Reality looks critically at From Anecdote to Evidence, the 2014 report that examines evidence for which factors cause churches to grow ( News, 17 January 2014). The Reform and Renewal programme was based on this report. His paper questions self-reported growth figures and a confusion between cause and effect in the list of characteristics associated with growth.

Whether the research basis was reliable was “obviously an important question to ask”, Bishop Broadbent said. “But actually those characteristics are things that come back time and again in both English and German and American research on church growth, and which can be reiterated.”

Mr Hart had admitted that the Church was in decline, Bishop Broadbent said, but “he doesn’t therefore say what you do about the decline, merely that he thinks the analysis might be wrong.”

Dr Paul, who has a degree in mathematics, said that Mr Hart had suggested that “statistically, there is not clear evidence that changing all the levers that we can change is going to reverse the decline in the way we need to do it.

“Well we haven’t got any other levers, so let’s pull the ones we have…”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 April 2015 at 11:00pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Monday, 13 April 2015

How religious is the United Kingdom?

The WIN/Gallup International market research association has published the results of a recent survey taken in 65 countries. This shows that the UK is one of the least religious countries as measured by what people say about themselves.

The full press release is available here. It starts out:

Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

  • 63% of people polled say they are religious
  • China is the least religious country with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any
    other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and
    Spain (20%).
  • Thailand is the most religious country globally (94%), followed by Armenia (93%),
    Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), and Morocco (93%)…

The wording of the question was this:

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious Person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.”

Press coverage of this has been varied:

Guardian UK one of world’s least religious countries, survey finds

Telegraph Britain one of the ‘world’s least religious countries’, says poll and Mapped: These are the world’s most religious countries

Christian Today Two thirds of people worldwide are religious (but less than one third of Brits)

Daily Mail Brits among the least religious in the world: UK comes 59th in poll of 65 countries after only 30% of population say they have a faith

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 April 2015 at 10:15pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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From Anecdote to Evidence: An Evaluation

Updated

From Anecdote to Evidence is available here.

Mark Hart, Rector of Plemstall & Guilden Sutton, Diocese of Chester, has written an 18 page essay which evaluates this report. He has titled it From Delusion to Reality and you can read it in a PDF file located here.

His analysis makes use of a previously unpublished update dated September 2014 to a report by David Voas and Laura Watt, which was originally published in February 2014.

The updated version is now available here.

As the title of his analysis hints, his evaluation concludes that the evidence does not support the arguments now being made for the investment of substantial money by the Church Commissioners in order to stimulate church growth. His concluding paragraphs read:

The Church has recently embarked on a wide-ranging programme of ‘Reform and Renewal’, led with considerable energy and resolve, and this has quite understandably been a great source of encouragement to many. However, the Church Growth Research is cited as the evidence base for the success of these plans, and From Anecdote to Evidence represents the level of understanding of the research among the senior leadership.

It has been estimated that it will be necessary to borrow at least £100m from the future, using Church Commissioners’ funds, in order to implement the Task Group proposals. This paper therefore calls into question the basis for considering this an investment likely to pay back a return, in terms of either finance or church growth. It also calls into question the From Evidence to Action initiative which is designed to encourage parishes to implement the research findings as presented in From Anecdote to Evidence.

Despite appearances, this is not meant to be a negative analysis, even though it asks the Church’s leaders to accept that their research has provided no answer to the question of how to achieve sufficient numerical growth to offset the continuing decline.

The analysis here implies there is a need for much more radical thinking and planning, not less. The questions go wider than ‘How can we increase attendance figures?’ to include ‘What are the reasons for decline?’ and ‘What is an appropriate ecclesiology for a national Church in today’s social context?’ That requires attention to be given to all aspects of the Church’s role in society. And it requires the questions to be asked with a positive, outward look towards the people of the parishes rather than an inward, anxious focus on institutional strength.

The Church has officially moved from delusion to reality on attendance figures. It now needs to face the reality of what its own growth research is saying, and of why it was felt necessary to portray it in a way which would only create another delusion.

Read it all for yourself.

Update
I omitted previously to link to the blog article introducing this written by Mark Hart. He said:

…My paper shows that ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ systematically misrepresents or misinterprets the underlying report by David Voas & Laura Watt, thereby exaggerating the usefulness of the findings for numerical growth.

This has implications for the ‘Reform & Renewal’ programme (involving many Task Groups) which plans to borrow an estimated £100m from the future, on the evidence of this research, to invest in church growth…

Mark has now written a further note, From Even More Delusion to Reality, which says:

The C of E press release issued when ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ was published was even more false than the report itself:

“Researchers have concluded that while there is no single recipe, there are common ingredients strongly associated with growth in churches of any size, place or context:
These include: Leadership; A clear mission and purpose; Willingness to self-reflect and learn continually; Willingness to change and adapt according to context; Lay as well as clergy involvement and leadership; Being intentional about prioritising growth; Actively engaging children and teenagers; Actively engaging with those who might not usually go to church; Good welcoming and follow up for visitors; Commitment to nurturing new and existing Christians; Vision” (my bold)

Every one of these factors, it is claimed, according to a professional research conclusion, is strongly associated with growth, in any church in the land.
This is so untrue, as my paper shows (and see previous post).
This is not an academic argument. It is about the people and clergy of the parishes. They are affected by decisions made on the basis of these ‘findings’. They deserve better.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 April 2015 at 8:33pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Anglican Mission in England

This organisation has a new website. Some extracts will give readers the flavour:

What is AMiE?

The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) is a mission society that seeks to promote gospel growth in areas covered by the Church of England (principally in England, but also in other parts of Europe) by supporting Anglican churches and individuals both within and outside present Church of England structures.

AMiE came into being as a result of GAFCON and is one of a number of agencies that relates to GAFCON through the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) UK and Ireland. You can read more about the history of AMiE by clicking here.

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

AMiE is a registered charity (number 1158679) and has an Executive Committee. Andy Lines is the General Secretary of AMiE and Justin Mote is Chair of the Executive Committee. AMiE, alongside Reform and Church Society, co-sponsor the annual ReNew conference. The AMiE Executive Committee shares the ReNew vision of pioneering, establishing and securing a nation of healthy local Anglican churches.

Who does AMiE seek to serve?

There are four basic categories of those that AMiE seeks to serve:
1. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England whose mission is constrained by their bishop or diocese.
2. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England but who are in impaired communion with their bishop or diocese.
3. Anglicans outside the structures of the Church of England.
4. Anglicans within the structures of the Church of England who are currently experiencing few constraints but who wish to express solidarity with those under 1-3 above.

Executive Committee

AMiE is governed by and Executive Committee consisting of:
Revd Justin Mote (Chairman and Director/Trustee)
Revd Canon Andy Lines (General Secretary and Director/Trustee)
Rt Revd John Ellison (Chair of Panel of Bishops)
Revd Paul Perkin (Chair of FCA UK & Ireland)
Revd Richard Coekin
Revd Canon Tim Davies
Mr Dan Leafe
Mr. Brian O’Donoghue (Secretary and Director/Trustee)
Revd Rod Thomas
Revd Canon Dr Chris Sugden
All the members of the Executive are required to hold a ‘complementarian (Equal and Different)’ position on women’s ministry, but AMiE will support all churches who hold to the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 March 2015 at 11:02pm BST | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Joe Cassidy

It is with much sadness that we have learned that the Revd Canon Joe Cassidy died yesterday, 28 March, after a short illness. He was 60.

Joe was a frequent commenter on this Thinking Anglicans blog, and also a valued contributor to our ‘just thinking’ series, writing challenging and pastoral pieces from a sound scholarly position. In the wider world he was the Principal of St Chad’s College, Durham, a place where many of our clergy have trained and where he will be much missed. Before joining the Church of England he had been ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church, and was a member of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, in his native Canada.

The Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, was his neighbour in the city, and has written this personal reminiscence.

To his wife Gillian and to his children and family we send our condolences.

May he rest in peace!

Simon, Simon and Peter

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 7:14pm GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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More criticism for Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Church Times reports: Changes in training prompt resignation and protest letter.

…The Revd Dr Sarah Coakley, professor of divinity at the University of Cambridge, sent a resignation letter to the group four days before the report - Resourcing Ministerial Education - was published (News, 16 January). In it, she lists several reservations about the report, warning that it is “anodyne and misleading”. She describes the devolution to the dioceses as “the most disturbing part . . . I must be blunt: I simply do not believe there is sufficient qualitative theological understanding in most of the dioceses to protect the sort of aspirations that this report promotes.”

Resourcing Ministerial Education, presented to the General Synod in February (News, 20 February), proposes that “decisions about training pathways for individuals should be made in the diocese, in consultation with the candidate.” A “standard level of grant for tuition” will be given to each recommended candidate from a central fund, to which all dioceses contribute. This grant “may be used in a range of ways as the diocese sees fit, providing the training is from an approved provider”…

The letter to the editor, signed by 17 academics and quoted in the news report, can be found in full here.

…We the undersigned wish to express our great concern that, should core funding from central funds disappear and be replaced altogether with diocesan funding, a casualty will be the strong links built up over many years with university theology and religious studies departments, and that the public, intellectual engagement of the Church of England with pressing contemporary issues will suffer accordingly.

None of us disputes the importance of alternative modes of educational delivery to the full-time residential one. Mixed-mode and context-based training schemes, alongside part-time study, have already contributed enormously to the development of new ways into ordained as well as lay ministry, and there is no doubt that they have much more to offer the Church in the future. The Church of England needs a diversity of forms of theological education if it truly desires a diversity of ordination candidates.

We are alert, too, to the differential costs of all these various ways of pursuing study. Nor are we blind to the potential that exists - though arguably it is severely underdeveloped - for constructive relationships between university departments and the newer forms of training.

But there is a particular advantage to the pursuit of theological study in a full-time setting that can serve well the deepest engagement possible with the challenges of contemporary theology, and especially the development of an active research culture. All of our universities have contributed significantly to that in the past, and would hope to do so in the future. A key element is the involvement of universities in the education of clergy and laity, both through the contribution that academic staff make to teaching and to debate in the wider Church, and through the participation of students in graduate as well as undergraduate courses….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 5:10pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act receives Royal Assent

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 received the Royal Assent today.

The Church of England issued a press release welcoming the Royal Assent which includes this:

Under the terms of the Act, the Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, who is announced today as the next Bishop of Gloucester will become the first female diocesan bishop to join the Bishops’ Benches in the House of Lords.

Archdeacon Rachel will take the place vacated by the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who retires on July 11. She will be introduced into the House of Lords after the summer recess.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 26 March 2015 at 9:20pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Bishop of Gloucester

Updated

10 Downing Street has announced that the next Bishop of Gloucester is to be the Venerable Rachel Treweek, currently Archdeacon of Hackney.

Diocese of Gloucester: Venerable Rachel Treweek

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Rachel Treweek, BA, BTh, Archdeacon of Hackney, for election as Bishop of Gloucester in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Francis Perham, MA, whose resignation took effect on the 21 November 2014.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Rachel Treweek (nee Montgomery) aged 52, studied at Reading University and trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. She served her first curacy at Saint George and All Saints, Tufnell Park in the Diocese of London from 1994 to 1997 and was Associate Vicar from 1997 to 1999.

From 1999 to 2006 she was Vicar at Saint James the Less, Bethnal Green and Continuing Ministerial Education Officer for the Stepney Episcopal Area. From 2006 to 2011 she was Archdeacon of Northolt in the Diocese of London. Since 2011 she has been Archdeacon of Hackney. In 2013 she was elected as Participant Observer in the House of Bishops for the South East Region.

Rachel is married to Guy, Priest-in-Charge of two parishes in the City of London.

Her interests include conflict transformation, walking and canoeing.

Gloucester diocese has a page welcoming the new bishop-designate including the following quote

Following the announcement, Rachel said:

“It is an immense joy and privilege to be appointed as the Bishop of Gloucester. I am surprised and, I have to admit, even a little daunted by the prospect, but my overwhelming feeling is one of excitement to be coming to join with others in sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the people of this diocese.

“I am looking forward to encouraging Christians to speak out with confidence about their faith and the good news that the Gospel brings. It will be my privilege to work with churches as we connect with people, wherever they are and whatever their concerns.

“My calling to the role of bishop has been shaped by human encounter. I believe profoundly that relationship is at the heart of who God is. I have been with people through the joys and pains of their lives and it is these experiences that I will reflect upon as I take up this new role.”

The diocese of London also covers the appointment of one of its archdeacons. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is quoted:

As Richard of Gloucester is reinterred, Rachel of Gloucester is revealed. Rachel has served her entire ministry in the Diocese of London, excelling wherever she has been. She has twice acted as Archdeacon, in Northolt and then Hackney — two highly demanding and contrasting areas where she has shone in equal measure.

… While we are very sorry to see her go, Gloucester has appointed someone with real quality and distinction. We look forward to continuing to support her in the years to come.

There is also coverage in the press including

several of which note that she is expected to become the first woman bishop to sit in the House of Lords.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 26 March 2015 at 10:01am GMT | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Alison White to be Bishop of Hull

The Archbishop of York has tweeted “Wonderful news that HM The Queen has appointed the Revd Canon Alison White as the Bishop Suffragan of the See of Hull”.

And here is the announcement from Number 10 (complete with misprint - Hull is in the diocese of York).

Suffragan Bishop of Hull: Reverend Canon Alison Mary White
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 25 March 2015
Part of: Arts and culture and Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of Reverend Canon Alison Mary White, for election as Bishop of Hull in the Diocese of Newcastle.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Alison Mary White, MA, Priest-in-Charge of St James’ Church, Riding Mill in the diocese of Newcastle and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction in the Diocese of Newcastle, in succession to the Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith, MA, on his translation to the See of Hereford on the 22 November 2014.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Alison White aged 58, studied first at St Aidan’s College, Durham and then at Leeds University. She trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. She served her curacy as an NSM at Chester-le-Street in the Diocese of Durham from 1986 to 1989.

From 1989 to 1993 she was Diocesan Advisor in Local Mission and also Honorary Parish Deacon at Birtley. From 1993 to 1998 she was Director of Mission and Pastoral Studies at Cranmer Hall, Durham. From 1998 to 2000 she was Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Durham. From 2000 to 2004 she was a Springboard Missioner. From 2005 to 2010 she was an Adult Education Officer in Peterborough Diocese where from 2009 to 2010 she was also Honorary Canon at Peterborough Cathedral.

Since 2010 she has been Honorary Canon Theologian at Sheffield Cathedral. In 2011 she was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of St James’, Riding Mill in Newcastle Diocese and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction.

Alison White is married to Frank, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Newcastle. They have family in England and South Africa. Alison has an interest in literature and the arts, enjoys the theatre and is an avid reader. She likes to travel and be in the company of good friends. She enjoys the outdoors, walks and gardening. She is a school governor.

The York diocesan website has this news item: New Bishop of Hull [also available on the Archbishop of York’s website].

The Newcastle diocesan website has this: Alison White appointed Bishop of Hull.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 at 10:04am GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Suffragan sees of Ripon and Wakefield

The names of the suffragan sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract in the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales were officially changed to Ripon and Wakefield respectively by Order in Council on 19 March 2015. The two area bishops, James Bell and Tony Robinson, can now officially be called the Bishop of Ripon and the Bishop of Wakefield respectively.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 at 11:15pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Muslim prayer in church building generates controversy

The original report was in the Telegraph: Muslim prayers in Church of England parish.

The Church Times later reported: Canon Goddard apologises for Muslim prayers in his church.

So also did Christianity Today No more Muslim prayer services in churches, says bishop.

The official statements:

Diocese of Southwark 1: A statement concerning recent events at St John’s Waterloo

St John’s Waterloo: Statement from Canon Giles Goddard

Diocese of Southwark 2: A statement from the Bishop of Southwark concerning St John’s, Waterloo

Kelvin Holdsworth has written about this: Welcoming Muslims into church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 at 5:17pm GMT | Comments (72) | TrackBack
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Friday, 13 March 2015

Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords yesterday when it received its third reading. As there were no Lords amendments to the bill it does not need to return to the Commons. It now awaits the Royal Assent and will come into force “on the day Parliament first meets following the first parliamentary general election after this Act is passed”.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK writes about this and precisely when Parliament “first meets”.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 13 March 2015 at 11:51am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Proposal to revive the See of Islington

The Church Times reports: Chartres sets out plan for ‘Bishop for church-plants’

A NEW “bishop for church-plants” has been proposed by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres. The aim is to support the burgeoning movement as it spreads across the country.

The plan, which involves reviving the see of Islington, vacant since 1923, will be given final consideration by the Dioceses Commission later this month.

In a report presented to the London diocesan Bishop’s Council last Wednesday, Bishop Chartres argues that there is an “urgent” need for church-planters to be given “knowledgeable support and mentoring in the early years”. The Bishop of Islington’s ministry would be “inherently episcopal but not territorial; thoroughly collegial but with an independent sphere of responsibility”…

The full text of the report can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 at 10:00am GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Consultation on scripture and sexuality

The Church Times reports on a consultation organised by the Church of England Evangelical Council: ‘Good disagreement’ breaks out at CEEC meeting by Madeleine Davies.

..The “consultation on scripture and sexuality” was held at St James the Less, Pimlico, and organised by the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard, associate director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, and a member of the Council. There were 22 people present, invited as holders of “a variety of different views”. Before attending, they had been issued with a report commissioned by the Council from Dr Martin Davie, tutor in doctrine at Wycliffe Hall: Studies on the Bible and Same-Sex relationships since 2003. The report urges the Church to pursue “a path of radical and uncompromising discipleship” by upholding the Church of England’s “existing teaching on sexual ethics”…

Ian Paul has written about this: Good disagreement?

So has Colin Coward Church of England Evangelical Council Consultation on Scripture and Sexuality

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 at 10:43pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Bishops of Tonbridge and Dorking to retire

Updated Sunday evening

Brian Castle, the suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge in the diocese of Rochester, recently announced that he will retire in the autumn.

I missed the announcement, which I am told was made a couple of weeks ago. This might be because, although it is online at the bishop’s personal website, it has yet to appear on the diocesan website or, so far as I know, anywhere else.

Update

A comment on another entry advises that Ian Brackley, the suffragan Bishop of Dorking in the diocese of Guildford, also announced his retirement last month; he will leave on 30 September 2015. Again this has not yet appeared on the diocesan website, although I have found a brief mention at the end of this item in a local paper.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 12:16pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 5 March 2015

General Synod Electronic Voting Results - February 2015

The detailed results of the four electronic votes at last month’s meeting of General Synod are now available for download. The files include the text of the motion being voted on.

Tuesday 10 February

Item 504 - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure

At present a diocese must be named after the see city. This draft measure would have allowed a diocese to be named after a geographical area or the see city, and in the former case the diocesan bishop’s title could also be the area. This vote on clause 1 of the measure was in effect a vote on the whole measure, and a no vote was a vote against the measure.

Item 501 - Draft Amending Canon No. 35

Wednesday 11 February

Item 13 - Church Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-generational Equity

Thursday 12 February

Item 15 - Canon B 38

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 10:30am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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Suffragan Bishop of Hertford

Michael Beasley has been appointed as the new Bishop of Hertford in the Diocese of St Albans.

Diocesan press release: Priest and scientist appointed Bishop of Hertford.

10 Downing Street press release: Suffragan See of Hertford: Canon Noel Michael Roy Beasley

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 10:03am GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Monday, 2 March 2015

Bishop of Lichfield to retire

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, announced today that he will retire in September 2015.

Announcement on the Lichfield diocesan website: “40 years seem a good stint”

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 2 March 2015 at 4:38pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 February 2015

Good Disagreement: David Ison writes for Accepting Evangelicals

Accepting Evangelicals has today launched a new section of its website, titled Good Disagreement.

This includes an article of the same title, by the Dean of St Paul’s, David Ison.

A pdf version of his article is also available. Here is a short extract, but you need to read the whole piece:

…And in the light of Reform’s response, there are also questions to be asked about the whole enterprise of ‘Shared Conversations’. Reflection ‘in the light of scripture’ brings in two of the classical Anglican markers of theological authority, the Bible and Reason, to which should be added an awareness of and exploration of Tradition – which requires a serious engagement with history which is not necessarily present in the heat of the debate. Further, the idea that there can be ‘safe space’ and a ‘safe environment’ for people to be vulnerable about their sexuality could only be true where those with power relinquish it. How reasonable is it to expect gay ordained and lay people, in a Church which discriminates against and condemns the expression of their sexuality, in a wider British culture which only very recently has begun to be more open about sexuality and where homophobic bullying and even murder are still current, let alone a world-wide culture in which homosexuality is in many places punished by imprisonment or death, should make themselves vulnerable to those who may want to exclude them? Will heterosexuals begin the discussion by sharing their struggles and experiences with their own sexuality, including those of their sins and shortcomings which might open them to the charge of hypocrisy, the loss of their reputation and authority, and possible disciplinary action? After all, far more damage is done in and to the Church by misbehaving heterosexuals than by gay people.

Personally, I think that the idea of ‘Shared Conversations’ is a positive initial step, but one which is unlikely on its own to have the kind of buy-in which is necessary to make a sufficient difference to how the Church engages with the issues around sexuality. A process which requires its participants to truly hear, and even be vulnerable to, one another, requires rather more investment of time and will than appears likely to be given at present through what is proposed for these conversations: they are a beginning rather than an end – which is one of the reasons why Reform are reluctant to participate, as they imply more beyond them. But, as the group discussions in General Synod about the ordination of women as bishops helped participants to really begin to meet those with whom they disagree, so these conversations have the power to do the same: whether that leads to change, and what that change would be, will be a further question…

But that’s not all. Ruth Gledhill has interviewed David Ison for Christian Today and her article is titled Dean of St Paul’s David Ison calls on CofE to consider gay marriage. There is a video recording of the interview linked at the bottom of that page, and there is a transcript of the text also provided. Her report for Christian Today begins thus:

The Dean of St Paul’s has called for the Church of England to consider what accepting same-sex marriage would mean for the future.

The Church of England is seen by many as “toxic” and “oppressive” because of its stance on women and gays, he said. Some gay Christians had even committed suicide because of the pressure of being told they had to be celibate.

Dr David Ison says today: “We need to consider what the acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church would mean in reality, and how it would be understood in relation to the theology of Christian marriage and the chequered history of that institution, as well as contemporary social practice around sexuality.”

Dr Ison, who was brought up in the conservative evangelical tradition but changed his mind about homosexuality after meeting gay Christians at university and witnessing first-hand the damage done by the traditional teaching, added: “We are in a situation where because of its views about women and about gay people, the church has been seen as toxic or oppressive.

“That breaks my heart, that that should be the case, when the church is there to bear witness to freedom, life and hope in the world. Let’s see what we can do to change that…”

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Monday, 23 February 2015

The Church of England and the living wage

The Sun newspaper (in an article behind its paywall) reported this morning that some cathedrals and churches are hiring staff on salaries below the living wage. This is despite last week’s pastoral letter from the House of Bishops calling on employers to pay at least this amount.

Tim Wyatt reports the story for the Church Times: Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row.
So too does BBC News: Church of England pays some workers below living wage.

There is a press release from the Church of England, and comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Friday, 20 February 2015

General Synod reports

Nicholas Hills, the Administrative Secretary in the Central Secretariat at Church House Westminster, has sent a summary of last week’s General Synod business to diocesan secretaries and archdeacons. The Diocese of Liverpool has published a slightly abbreviated version on its website. The original letter is also available.

Although as usual the detailed reports in the Church Times are only available to subscribers, this article by Madeleine Davies is free to all: Not on the agenda for Synod, Green remains hot topic.

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House of Bishops' pastoral letter - more reports and comments

Our first roundup is here.

Tim Wyatt Church Times Bishops’ call for vision provokes anger

Gaby Hinsliff The Guardian Want to make yourself look less nasty? Avoid picking fights with the church

Michael Sadgrove Ash Wednesday, the Bishops and the Election

Ian Paul Which party should I vote for?

This week’s podcast from the Church of England starts with interviews with the Bishops of Norwich and Leicester.

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Secretary General William Fittall To Step Down

Church of England press release

Secretary General To Step Down
20 February 2015

William Fittall, the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and General Synod of the Church of England, has today issued a statement to members of the General Synod announcing his intention to leave his post on November 30th this year.

Mr. Fittall, 61, took up the role of Secretary General in 2002 having previously worked in a number of senior posts in Whitehall. Announcing his intended departure, Mr. Fittall said:

“After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.

I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role.”

Responding to the announcement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“William has made a substantial and prodigious contribution to the work and life of the Church of England. For over a decade he has been unstinting in his efforts to ably lead the staff of the Council and professionally support the work of the Synod. He has been indefatigable in his service and I will personally miss him greatly.”

Statement from William Fittall

“This is to inform you that I have given the Archbishops formal notice of my intention to conclude my period of service as Secretary General on 30 November, immediately after the induction and inauguration of the new Synod.

By then it will be more than forty years since I started work in Whitehall and more than thirteen since my arrival at Church House. After a succession of demanding roles I have, with my wife, concluded that the time has come for me to retire from full time work and move to a more flexible pattern of life.

I am giving a substantial period of notice in the hope that this will facilitate a smooth and orderly transition. It is likely to take around three months for the selection process to be completed and the person chosen may then have several months’ notice to serve from their present role. The Archbishops have, therefore, asked that the process for securing a successor should be put in hand immediately.

When the time comes, there will be more to say about the experience and privilege of having occupied this unique role. In the meantime there is still much work to be done, not least in relation to the reform and renewal programme, the Church’s engagement with government after the forthcoming election and the preparations for a new synodical quinquennium.”

William Fittall
Secretary General

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A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing

General Synod members have been sent A Programme for Reform and Renewal – Post-Synod Briefing, written by William Fittall, the Secretary General. The briefing outlines the programme, details what Synod decided last week, and looks ahead to what happens next.

The briefing does not appear to be available on the Church of England website, but David Thomson, the Bishop of Huntingdon, has published it on his website.

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

House of Bishops' pastoral letter - reports and comments

Updated Tuesday evening and Wednesday

Tim Wyatt Church Times House of Bishops calls for a new politics ahead of election

Esther Addley The Guardian Church of England calls for ‘fresh moral vision’ in British politics

BBC News Church of England urges ‘fresh moral vision’ from politicians
Church of England: Public should ‘ask the big questions’

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England calls for a ‘new direction’ in British Politics

John Bingham The Telegraph Bishops vow to take on ‘sex appeal’ of Russell Brand’s ‘don’t vote’ message
John Bingham and Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph Thatcherism is finished – declares Church of England

Nigel Morris The Independent Russell Brand’s ‘sex appeal’ will deter voters, the Church of England says

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Bishops’ Pastoral Statement: 2015 General Election

Nick Baines Bishops and politics

Malcolm Brown (Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England) blogs: Who is my Neighbour?

Update

Aisha Gani The Guardian Church of England bishops’ pastoral letter: key points

The Guardian editorial The Guardian view on the church and the election: talking sense

Kiran Stacey and Barney Thompson Financial Times Church of England rebukes political parties for lack of vision

Anoosh Chakelian New Statesman How the Church wants you to vote

James Kirkup and Tim Stanley The Telegraph Does the Church have a place in politics?

Symon Hill Ekklesia The bishops’ election letter is mild, not radical

Further update

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Tories and the Church: the 30-year war continues

Archbishop Cranmer “Tory Fury” over Church of England letter is a confected Tory tantrum

Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph Church of England campaigning for EU integration

Giles Fraser The Guardian The bishops have a point: our politics is stale and unambitious

Michael White The Guardian C of E’s naive intervention in politics prompts fierce storm in a teacup

Steven Swinford The Telegraph Iain Duncan Smith mocks Church of England’s ‘dwindling relevence’

Nick Spencer Theos Burning bishops’ fingers

Jonathan Chaplin KLICE ‘Who is my neighbour?’ – the Church of England finds a new political voice (also republished on Fulcrum)

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House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election

Updated Tuesday evening

Press release

House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on the 2015 General Election
17 February 2015

The House of Bishops of the Church of England have today expressed the hope for political parties to discern “a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be” ahead of the General Election in May of this year.

In a pastoral letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England, the Bishops urge Christians to consider the question how can we “build the kind of society which many people say they want but which is not yet being expressed in the vision of any of the parties?”

The letter also encourages church members to engage in the political process ahead of the General Election and to put aside self-interest and vote for ‘the common good’: “The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.”

The letter also states that: “In Britain, we have become so used to believing that self-interest drives every decision, that it takes a leap of imagination to argue that there should be stronger institutions for those we disagree with as well as for those ‘on our side.’ Breaking free of self-interest and welcoming our opponents as well as our supporters into a messy, noisy, yet rich and creative community of communities is, perhaps, the only way we will enrich our almost-moribund political culture.”

The letter defends the right of the Church to enter into the political arena: “It is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about how the world’s affairs ought to be arranged. The claim that religion and political life must be kept separate is, in any case, frequently disingenuous - most politicians and pundits are happy enough for the churches to speak on political issues so long as the church agrees with their particular line.”

The pastoral letter draws on the experience of the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community to warn of the disengagement between politicians and the people. They note that “with few exceptions, politicians are not driven merely by cynicism or self-interest” but nevertheless, “the different parties have failed to offer attractive visions of the kind of society and culture they wish to see…. There is no idealism in this prospectus”.

The letter encourages political parties across the spectrum to seek bold new visions of hope and idealism rather than “sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best.”

The bishops also argue Britain is in need of a stronger politics of community to boost solidarity between people and reverse a drift towards social isolation: “The extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete - and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.”

The letter specifically avoids advocacy for one any political party but instead encourages those in the Church to seek from political candidates a commitment to building a society of common bonds over individual consumerism. The bishops say Britain is hungry for a new approach to political life which reaffirms our ties at a national, regional, community and neighbourhood level. There is a need for a strong corrective to halt the move towards increasing social isolation, they say, through strengthening the idea that that Britain is still a “community of communities.” This, they say, is a theme which has roots in the historic traditions of different parties: “We are seeking, not a string of policy offers, but a way of conceiving and ordering our political and economic life which can be pursued in a conservative idiom, a socialist idiom, a liberal idiom - and by others not aligned to party.”

The pastoral letter argues that the Church of England finds its voice through being a presence in every community with churches remaining one of the primary agents of social action and social care in parishes across the country. The letter argues that Intermediate institutions such as housing associations, credit unions and churches are needed for their role in building stronger communities. A thriving society needs many intermediate institutions, they say, including those who disagree with each other.

The letter also recognises the inherent danger in the current situation where people are disengaging from politics, arguing that restoring faith in both politicians and the political process requires a new politics that engages at both a deeper more local level within a wider, broader vision for the country as a whole.

In the letter, the bishops warn against despair and urge people to vote in the General Election: “Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes. It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us.”

ENDS

The Pastoral letter can be read here.

A guide to the pastoral letter and its contents can be found here.

The statements from the Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Leicester can be found by clicking on the link on their names.

The Church of England & Church Urban Fund research “Church in Action” can be found at:
http://www.cuf.org.uk/blog/churches-respond-loneliness-crisis.

Updated to add links to pdf versions of dock files.

guide to the pastoral letter
statement from Bishop of Norwich
statement from Bishop of Leicester

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Bishop of Sherborne

Graham Kings, the suffragan Bishop of Sherborne in the diocese of Salisbury, will be moving to be Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion in the summer.

Mission Theology website: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Salisbury diocesan website: New Job for Bishop Graham

Fulcrum website: Partnership for Publishing New Voices: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Southwark diocesan website: The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings

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Green report: after Synod now what?

Our previous roundup was: Following up on the Green Report.

Since then, there wasn’t any proper debate on it at the General Synod.

Andrew Lightbown has continued to offer comment:

Both of these articles deserve to be read in full, and taken seriously by the management of the Church of England. Here is an excerpt, but do read both of them in full.

…Let’s have a look at the ‘Christian leadership tradition’ drawing on the Rule of Benedict…

In chapter 3 of his rule Benedict acknowledges that some decisions can only be taken by the most senior member of the community. Accordingly he places two obligations on the abbot or abbess:

  • when any business of importance is to be considered in the monastery, the abbot or abbess should summon the whole community together and,
  • the community should be summoned for such consultation because it often happens that the Lord makes the best course clear to one of the younger members. Benedict endorses, and actively seeks out, the ‘wisdom of youth.’ Does the Church?

Benedict also tells his audience that it is only ‘when questions of lesser importance arise in the concerns of the monastery,that the abbot or abbess should consult with seniors alone.’

If we accept Benedict’s logic and apply it – reasoning by analogy – to the ‘discussions’ around the Green Report we can only presume that the House of Bishops regard the identification and development of the next generation of leaders as a matter of ‘lesser importance!’ Matters to be discussed by the bishops alone…

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Synod Question on Human sexuality and clergy preferment

Another question from General Synod on Tuesday with the question and answer from the booklet, and my transcription from the audio of the supplementary question and answer.

The Revd Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans) to ask the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission:
Q15 The House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (15 February 2014) states:

“(25) The Church of England will continue to place a high value on theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity. That is why Church of England clergy are able to argue for a change in its teaching on marriage and human sexuality, while at the same time being required to fashion their lives consistently with that teaching.”

Given the high value the Church places on “theological exploration and debate that is conducted with integrity”, is the Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission able to assure Synod that its policy and practice is, and will continue to be, that clergy who “fashion their lives consistently with [the Church’s] teaching” will not be barred from preferment on the grounds that they have argued for “a change in [the Church‟s] teaching on marriage and human sexuality”?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A Yes. When candidates are being considered for a particular See their teaching on a range of issues is, however, among the many considerations that may properly be taken into account when considering their relative merits for that appointment.

Supplementary question

Jo Spreadbury: I just wanted to clarify what current policy and practice is and what it might continue to be if I may, to ask, having directed the CNC not to vote for one of the candidates in the Exeter and the Edmundsbury appointment processes because of the effect on the Anglican Communion, will Your Grace continue to use what amounts to an unconstitutional veto in future appointments?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I really can’t comment on what goes on in CNCs. We are bound by a promise of confidentiality which is strictly held in most cases. It is also the case that the Crown Appointments Secretary and the Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary keep a close eye on and follow up anything that looks like a breach of normal practice.

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Synod question on Task Groups and their membership

This is one of the questions answered at General Synod on Tuesday. As an experiment at this group of sessions the questions and original answers were printed in a booklet and not read out, and the person answering merely referred to the printed answer. Any supplementaries were then taken orally, and I have transcribed these from the audio.

Mrs Anne Martin (Guildford) to ask the Secretary General:
Q46 Could the Secretary General please supply General Synod members with a list of all the Task Groups in existence (including those presenting reports in this Synod, those not presenting reports and the Spending Plans Task Group), along with their current membership?

Mr William Fittall to reply
A The reports of five Task Groups have been circulated to the Synod in connection with the February Group of Sessions, namely, Resourcing the Future (GS 1978), Resourcing Ministerial Education (GS 1979), Simplification (GS 1980), Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders (attached to GS 1982) and Optimising the Role of the NCIs (GS Misc 1094). The membership of the groups is included in each report.

It is difficult to produce a comprehensive list of other task groups because there is no standard definition of the term and groups can be established to undertake focused work in a wide variety of circumstances by any number of national bodies. I have, however, placed on the notice board the membership of the Archbishops’ Task Group on Evangelism, the Task Group on responsible Savings and Credit, the Spending Plans Task Group, the Turning up the Volume Group, the Church Buildings Review Group, the Environment Working Group and the Deployment Task Group.

Supplementary questions

Anne Martin: Thank your for the reply and the action taken. Can I also ask, will the terms of reference for each task group be made available to General Synod members?

William Fittall: We can certainly seek to do so. I think that the point, just to draw out, is that even at national level the Church of England is quite a complex institution and some people may have a fantasy that there is a sort of central air traffic control that ensures that all these bodies are set up in an orderly fashion with terms of reference and a single process for appointing members. The reality is that a lot of commissions, councils, boards and so on do set up groups to undertake particular tasks. So I can certainly try and assemble those for you, but it doesn’t all sit neatly on a database.

Vasantha Gnanadoss: Given that black and asian people are very poorly represented in the membership of the task groups will you encourage the people responsible for making appointments to do better in future?

William Fittall: I think in an earlier question there was a reference to guidance that the Appointments Committee has produced on making appointments, and that does very much make the point that’s just been expressed in relation to diversity, and that guidance does apply to all appointments, not just those for which the Appointments Committee itself is responsible. So that is a long way of saying yes.

This last answer refers to an earlier question, which is given below the fold.

The Revd Canon Jane Charman (Salisbury) to ask the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council:
Q25 Given that around 80% of the membership of the Task Groups is male, including all the Chairs:

  • Was the Appointments Committee consulted about their membership?
  • Were the usual good practice guidelines applied in making appointments to them?
  • can the Council explain why the process has resulted in such a poor gender balance?
  • What steps will the Council take to avoid such an outcome in the future?

The Archbishop of Canterbury to reply
A I agree that an 80/20 gender balance in most contexts isn’t good enough. In the case of the task groups it did not help that, despite progress in recent years, women remain under-represented not only among archdeacons, other senior clergy and of course bishops but also among others who have important contributions to make to exercises of this kind-such as diocesan chairs of finance and diocesan secretaries. The responsibility for these appointments rested with the Archbishops, not the Appointments Committee. So, it is for us to do better in future and for many others to help us by getting more women into the roles from which these sorts of groups tend to be drawn.

Supplementary questions

Jane Charman: For clarification the guidelines I am referring to are in GS Misc 963 and covered by Standing Order 116. Since they so helpfully pilot us through all those issues such as diversity, balance, and mix of skills and experience which so often catch the best of us unawares will the Archbishop now direct that in future they should always be used by everyone in making appointments to groups which serve the national church?

Archbishop of Canterbury: I think I will need to take advice on that question; I’m not even sure that I am allowed to direct such a thing and I would need to know that. I do feel looking at the mix on the task groups that I agree with the stress of the question and I apologise for the failure.

Anne Foreman: Since we are beginning to explore and experience new ways of being Synod could some creative thinking go into finding women of wisdom and experience within the church, but not necessarily in the particular roles that are mentioned in the answer? They do exist.

Archbishop of Canterbury: We don’t have to look far, I entirely agree with you and the answer is yes.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Statement on the work of Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint

The Church of England issued this statement today.

Statement on the work of Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint
13 February 2015

The Church of England have today issued the following statement:

“The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are grateful to Lord Green for the contribution and expertise that he has brought to the work of the group on leadership training and formation. The leadership report stands on its own merits: it is about preparation and consideration for appointment to posts of wide responsibility, pastoral care of those being considered and a means of ensuing proper inclusion across the whole range of the church. The report was completed and submitted before the current media focus on historic allegations against HSBC at the time Lord Green was either CEO or Chairman.

In the recent coverage concerning Lord Green none of the reports suggest there is evidence that he personally encouraged or orchestrated any scheme of tax evasion. The Church of England’s opposition to tax evasion or aggressive tax management strategies remains firm. The reported actions of HSBC Switzerland were wrong and there is obviously deep concern about the issues revealed.

Lord Green’s involvement in the production of the report on leadership development has been valuable and the Archbishops thank him for his contribution to this important ongoing work for the Church of England.”

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Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15 had its second reading in the House of Lords on Thursday. The verbatim Hansard record of the debate is here.

The remaining House of Lords stages are scheduled for 26 February (Committee stage) and 12 March (Report stage).

There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

General Synod - Thursday sessions

Updated Sunday

order paper for the day

official summary of business
Thursday morning
Thursday afternoon

Speech on draft safeguarding legislation by Geoffrey Tattersall

Speech on the report on mission and growth in the rural church by the Bishop of Knaresborough

Press reports

BBC Funeral law change voted through by Church of England

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Suicides can receive Anglican funerals, says General Synod
No sin, no devil: Church of England debates its baptismal liturgy

update

audio of Thursday’s business

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Shared Conversations website

There is now an “official website for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality taking place in the Church of England” here.

The information already on the site includes:

Dates and regional groupings

Programme - each of the regional Shared Conversations will take place over three days, beginning at 10:30 am on the first day and finishing at 4:00 pm on the third day. The full programme is here.

FAQs - How are participants selected?
What is the intended outcome of the Shared Conversations?
How is the safety of participants in the Shared Conversations being protected?

St Michael’s House Protocols - to govern the conversations

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Resources for the shared conversations

Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published have been published today.

Press release

Resources for the shared conversations on scripture, mission and sexuality published
12 February 2015

The Church of England has today published a set of resources called ‘Grace and Disagreement’ for the Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Sexuality.

The first booklet outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church. The second booklet comprises four essays, with varying views, which participants in the conversations are asked to read prior to taking part in the conversations.

The resources are available here.

The available resources are two booklets.

The first booklet, which can be downloaded here, outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church.

The second booklet, download here, comprises four essays, including two on scripture, which participants in the conversations are asked to read.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

General Synod - Wednesday session

Updated Thursday

General Synod met privately in groups this morning.

The afternoon session was entirely devoted to a series of four debates on discipleship and issues arising from the Task Group reports; the official summary is here: General Synod Feb 15: Wednesday afternoon.

Update

order paper for Wednesday

audio of Wednesday’s business

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 at 9:51pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Churches Mutual Credit Union formally launched

The Archbishop of Canterbury and representatives of other member churches press the button to launch the Churches Mutual Credit Union

The Archbishop of Canterbury and representatives of other member churches press the button to launch the Churches Mutual Credit Union. (photograph by Peter Owen)

The Churches Mutual Credit Union was formally launched at Church House today.

Church House issued this press release to mark the occasion.

Churches Mutual Credit Union formally launched
11 February 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s drive to promote access to responsible credit and savings receives a major boost today with the launch of the Churches Mutual Credit Union Ltd. (CMCU).

The Most Rev Justin Welby joined the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev John Chalmers and the President of the Methodist Conference, The Rev Ken Howcroft, at Church House, central London, to celebrate their respective churches’ collaboration in forming the flagship credit union.

The CMCU, which also includes the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church in Wales, will offer a range of savings and loan products. Fairness will be at the heart of the CMCU’s values. Initially members will be able to invest in the ‘Founder Member’s Bond’ with ordinary savers accounts and loans becoming available in March. In due course CMCU will offer ISA savings accounts.

At least 60,000 individuals, notably ordained ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders, employees and trustees of churches (e.g. Parochial Church Council members) and church charities are eligible to join, along with churches and Anglican and Church of Scotland charities as corporate members.

Individuals can join CMCU from tomorrow (Thursday February 12).

Archbishop Justin said: “My congratulations go to all involved in establishing the Churches Mutual Credit Union as it is launched today.

“Credit unions have the potential to make a transformative contribution to our financial system and I am delighted that it will be possible for clergy, church employees and church trustees to belong to a credit union focused on supporting their particular financial needs.

“As the first supporter to sign CMCU’s application to the regulator in 2013 I am looking forward to being one of the first to sign up as a member when registration opens tomorrow.

“It is a notable strength of CMCU that it brings together churches from England, Scotland and Wales in this shared venture.

“I hope and expect that the experience of belonging to CMCU will encourage clergy and church workers to become increasingly effective advocates for credit unions in their communities.”

Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, CMCU President, and a former President of ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd) said: “After several years of development this is a great day for our churches and a great day for the British credit union sector.

“We recognise the strength of the credit union model and wish to offer that to our ministers and employees. Of immediate interest to many, especially ordained ministers, will be our plans to provide a competitive car loan scheme.

“The Church forms an obvious community with many shared interests and as such it has a natural fit with the idea of a credit union. The recycling of capital within the community, not least for mission, will be of benefit to all.”

Notes:

The CMCU project began in 2008 and is supported by the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church and the Church in Wales.

The CMCU was given formal authorisation by the regulatory authorities in December, after a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers deposits up to £85,000.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 at 3:11pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

General Synod - Tuesday session

Updated Wednesday and Thursday

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod Feb 15: Tuesday afternoon

Today’s Questions and Answers (but not the supplementaries) are online.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Personal chauffeurs and episcopal mansions – life for Church of England’s good shepherds
Church of England: Rural churches could disappear within ten years

Press Association (in The Guardian) Church of England questioned over ‘lavish’ spending on bishops’ homes

General synod cartoon by Dave Walker

Update

Carey Lodge Christian Today Archbishop Justin Welby: Evangelism is vital to the Church

Jack Sommers Huffington Post Church Of England Warned It Could Disappear From Parts Of Britain Within A Decade

audio of Tuesday’s business

order paper for Tuesday

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Christians in Iraq

Church House press release

Archbishop Warda addresses Synod about the persecution of Christians in Iraq
10 February 2015

Christianity in Iraq is going through one of the worst and hardest stages of its long history, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil, Iraq, has told the General Synod.

In an address at Church House, Westminster, Archbishop Bashar Warda said Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee their villages during the past year are in “desperate” need of financial and material support.

The Archbishop’s speech is available here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address

Archbishop Justin Welby gave the presidential address to the General Synod this afternoon.

Read the full text of the address here.

In his presidential address to Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about evangelism and witness, one of the three priority areas of his ministry.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 at 3:35pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham: Right Reverend Paul Williams

The next Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham is to be the Right Reverend Paul Williams, it was announced by Number 10 this morning.

Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham: Right Reverend Paul Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published:10 February 2015
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Paul Gavin Williams, BA, Area Bishop of Kensington, in the Diocese of London, for election as Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham in succession to the Right Reverend Paul Roger Butler, BA, on his translation to the See of Durham on 20 January 2014.

Notes for editors

Paul Williams (aged 47) studied at Grey College, University of Durham and trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his title curacy at St James Muswell Hill in the Diocese of London from 1992 to 1995 and then as Associate Vicar at Christ Church Clifton, Bristol from 1995 to 1999. From 1999 to 2009 he was Rector of St James Gerrards Cross with Fulmer in South Buckinghamshire and an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford from 2007 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been Area Bishop of Kensington, with oversight for the mission of the church across a diverse and dynamic part of West London, covering 6 boroughs. Paul has made a wider contribution in the area of church growth, leadership training, schools development and the church’s ministry among children and younger people.

Paul is married to Sarah, and they have 3 sons, Edward (16), Thomas (14) and Joseph (12). They are also foster carers for their local borough and have a close engagement in wider issues relating to the care of looked-after children. Paul’s leisure interests encompass a number of sports, especially football and cricket. He grew up in the West County where his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was among the first women to be an ordained priest in 1994.

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Monday, 9 February 2015

Financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education

The Bishop of Sheffield has issued this clarification of the financial issues around Resourcing Ministerial Education.

General Synod begins tomorrow and we are just a day or so away from the initial debate on Resourcing Ministerial Education.

My attention has been drawn to a couple of posts and circulars about RME which attempt to argue that the proposals, if agreed, signal “an end to residential training”.

This is very wide of the mark indeed. I look forward to answering the points raised fully in the Synod debate but it may help Synod members and others to have a few points of clarification in advance.

The RME Report is very clear that we are looking to see a very significant increase in the numbers of ordinands in training and that we see the importance of all current forms of training pathways (including residential training) as part of the mixed economy.

The Report is also very clear that this uplift in the numbers in training cannot be achieved without a significant increase in the total resource allocated (we have worked with a figure of a 50% increase in funding or £10 million per annum to correspond with the potential 50% increase in ordinands).

The overall background to the Report is therefore about growth and confidence in the sector not about erosion. Nor is the RME report about doing more with less resource but about increasing resource commensurate with the number of ordinands.

The anxiety which leads to some predicting (prematurely) the demise of residential training rests on some of the detailed proposals, particularly Proposals 6 and 7.

The Report signals clearly that all of these proposals will be subject to further detailed work and consultation with dioceses and TEI’s in the coming months. General Synod is not being asked to approve these proposals but to approve the general vision and direction of the Report.

Proposal 6 assigns a standard grant to each ordinand and proposes giving the diocese a larger role in decisions about training pathways. At present, the decision about pathways is entirely separate from the consequences in terms of costs. Under the RME proposals the diocese’s decision will be made within a framework in which Bishop’s Guidelines, the options available in training institutions and the candidate’s own vocation and preferences will all have a part. A diocese will be able to invest money not spent on one candidate’s training on another’s training and therefore able to fund candidates on both residential and non-residential pathways (as at present) providing we set the standard grant at the right level. Dioceses will have training budgets which have to be invested in the training of candidates – in others words there will be mitigating factors which will prevent this simply becoming a cost-cutting exercise.

Proposal 7 proposes discontinuing the pooling of maintenance grants for candidates families in training. Please note that we are not proposing discontinuing maintenance grants for families – simply the pooling of these costs (which currently amount to £5 million per annum or 25% of the total pooled IME budget of £20 million). This is a very large investment overall and again, one of the purposes of the proposal is to connect a decision about investment in a candidate’s support with the consequences of that decision. Dioceses will continue to have the discretion to invest the amount they currently invest in candidate support in the support of married students and their families. However dioceses may want to explore with students other means of support for candidates where this is a priority.

There is much still to be determined about how the funding will flow. This will be the subject of further consultation in the coming weeks.

However, we first need to establish through the Synod debates this week whether the General Synod will support the overall vision and acknowledge that additional funding will be needed to make it possible. Only when these prior questions have been answered will it be possible to explore in detail how the arrangements in Proposals 1-12 would work and the effect on institutions.

My own hope would be that as a result of the RME proposals we would see the number of ordinands rise overall and the number of candidates in residential training remain at at least its present level in terms of numbers. I therefore believe that residential training has a secure and long term future as a key part of the mixed economy of training the Church of England offers

+Steven Sheffield

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Following up on the Green Report

Updated Friday

As the next General Synod meeting approaches, where several questions have been tabled about the Green Report, there have also been several articles published about it.

Andrew Lightbown has written The Green Report: ‘authors of the apocalypse?’ I think so.

..It is so shot full of assumptions as to beggar belief. It is the product of romantic and lazy thinking, especially with respect to the ‘cult of the leader,’ and the capacity of business school style training to offer appropriate forms of training outside the world of business. (It has many other faults as well – but lets leave these to one side).

I hope the report disappears into the long grass never to be seen again.I strongly believe that the style of management, and leadership, training it proposes will do real and long lasting damage to the Church and, therefore society for, a healthy society needs a healthy church.

My reasoning is that the proposals seek to mimic a mode of training that has caused significant damage in the corporate world

Mike Higton has adopted a different approach in a series of five articles headed Re-Reading the Green Report, in which

Rather than setting out yet another critique, I want to try for retrieval and repair.

The five articles are:

Update

Andrew Lightbown has a response: Four questions to ask of the Green Review at Synod.

I’ve enjoyed Mike Higton’s blogs on the Green Review. I appreciate his analysis of the text and, the reconciliatory tone he adopts. I agree with the majority of what he says and, I hope Synod take on board his critique.

I have read, and re-read, the report and still find it difficult to accept that its recommendations can do anything other than damage the common good. My starting point has always been that the recommendations are an extension of the authors subjective biases and assumptions.

Below are four sets of questions which I hope might be useful when debating the report at Synod next week…

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Forward in Faith: the new website

Forward in Faith has launched a new website. As their own announcement says:

The new Resources section includes detailed advice to PCCs and Parish Priests about passing a Resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, together with leaflets and other resources to facilitate consideration of the issues. There is also a full commentary on the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

Here are links to some of the new materials:

And there is more. Worth a look.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Forward in Faith: The Ordination of the Bishop of Burnley

from the Forward in Faith website:

The Ordination of the Bishop of Burnley

Forward in Faith expresses its gratitude to the Archbishop of York for making arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley’s ordination which gave full expression to the Guiding Principles enshrined in the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

The first Guiding Principle speaks of the respect and canonical obedience that lawful office-holders deserve. The Archbishop of York presided in York Minister and the Bishop of Burnley took the oath of due obedience to him. No one present could have been in any doubt as to the Archbishop’s metropolitical authority or the respect in which he is held.

The fourth and fifth Guiding Principles embody commitments to enabling those who, for theological reasons, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests to flourish, and to making sacramental and pastoral provision for us ‘in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing’.

The reference to a ‘degree of communion’ recognizes that full communion cannot exist where some bishops and priests are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of others. For over twenty years traditional catholic priests have been granted ordination by bishops with whom they enjoy full communion (because they can receive the ministry of all the priests whom those bishops ordain). The ordination of women as bishops gives rise to a need for similar provision for ordination to the episcopate. Such arrangements contribute to enabling our priests and bishops to flourish, allowing them to experience at the moment of ordination the full communion with the ordaining bishops that all other ordinands enjoy.

We are grateful that the service in York Minster was nevertheless characterized by a very high degree of communion and fellowship, expressed not least in the fact that all could receive communion together.

The arrangements determined by the Archbishop of York also contributed to ‘mutual flourishing’. We trust that no one imagines that the flourishing of traditional catholic ordinands could involve their being ordained by bishops whose sacramental ministry they cannot receive. If all the male bishops present had participated in the laying on of hands, the Bishop of Stockport (whose gracious presence we acknowledge with gratitude) would therefore have been alone in having to refrain from doing so. It would be difficult to see that as an expression of ‘mutual flourishing’.

Plainly, a future female Archbishop of York could not be the principal consecrator of a traditional catholic bishop. By delegating that ministry to the Bishop of Chichester, Archbishop Sentamu has ensured that there need be no difference between his role on this occasion and that of a future female archbishop. We hope that those who support the ordination of women as bishops will agree with us that any such distinction should be avoided.

+ TONY PONTEFRACT
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Chairman

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Monday, 2 February 2015

Consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley

Updated Tuesday

Philip North was consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in York Minster today.

BBC News Bishop of Burnley: Rt Rev Philip North consecrated

Diocese of Blackburn Consecration of the Eleventh Bishop of Burnley at York Minster

The Archbishop of York wrote in the Yorkshire Post today about the arrangements for the consecration: Church can find a way to defeat fear and suspicion.
This article is also available on the Archbishop’s website: Bishops in the Church of God in England.

Update

The Diocese of Blackburn has published an album of photographs.

Madeleine Davies Church Times This shows there’s a future for us, says new traditionalist Bishop

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More about mitochondrial replacement therapy

Updated Tuesday morning

As we noted earlier, there appeared to be a discrepancy between what the Telegraph had reported the Bishop of Swindon as saying on Friday and the subsequent article that appeared in the Comment is free article on Saturday, listing him as joint author with Brendan McCarthy. Here is the full text of the emails sent to the Telegraph.

Church of England statement on Thursday

The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England accepts in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is under taken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.

“Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time.

“The Church of England has responded to the latest Government consultation and awaits further consultation on this issue in due course.”

full text of Bishop of Swindon statement to Telegraph on Friday

As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible. That is not my understanding of our position and does not do justice to the response given on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council to the public consultation conducted by the HFEA. That response was largely affirming but properly raised concerns about safety, possible interactions between the mitochondria and nucleus which were not well understood, and not opening the door to modifications of the nuclear DNA.

Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the HFEA for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised.

What is perhaps not well understood – and this may lie behind the caution expressed in your report and headline - is that changing the law to permit mitochondrial replacement will not mean it becomes immediately available in a clinic as soon as the legislation is passed. If Parliament does authorise this technique an Expert Group will continue to monitor and seek evidence around safety and efficacy; only when there is sufficient reassurance around these matters will applications for licencing be admitted.

Church of England later statement following Wellcome Trust intervention:

The Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s national adviser on medical ethics, said: “The Church of England is aware of the complex ethical issues raised over the possibility of mitochondrial replacement therapy and the extensive scientific research that has been carried out in this field over the years.

“Changing the human germline represents an ethical watershed; it is right to be cautious, requiring a comprehensive debate and degree of consensus with regard to the ethics, safety and efficacy of these techniques before any change to the current provisions are made.

“We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement.

“A wide number of questions remain to be answered before it would be wise to proceed. For example, the two proposed techniques involved in MRT are not ethically identical - little debate has been given to this. The Church has participated in the debate at every stage, making submissions to consultations run by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the HFEA and the Department of Health as well as participating in relevant seminars and workshops.

“Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy.”

And yet both of them apparently signed this article.

Update

The BBC website has an interview with Brendan McCarthy which you can view here.

The Guardian has an editorial comment (unsurprisingly in favour of the legislative proposal) which includes the following:

The two churches are urging MPs to vote against treatments that will give some parents their only chance of a healthy baby. The Catholics charge a process to create a healthy, wanted embryo from two fertilised eggs – one unwanted, one unsafe – with destroying both. The Church of England, or at least the apparatchik who seems to be speaking for it, is demanding “absolute certainty” that the new procedures will work, a test that would bar any advance in medicine ever. Despite regulations, drafted after years of research and debate, that require separate scrutiny and approval for every individual seeking treatment, both churches shriek about a dash into the unknown.

Organised religion is doing such a bad job of explaining what it doesn’t like about “mitochondrial donation” that it’s tempting to conclude that there is no ethical issue at all, merely the same sort of superstition that once fuelled moral panics about heart transplants. But in calmer mood, the churches could have produced three potentially more serious objections – none of which, however, are persuasive in the end…

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Philip North writes about Positive Mission

The following article is reproduced, with permission, from the January 2015 edition of New Directions.

Positive Mission. Reach out

Philip North identifies some opportunities for community ministry for smaller churches

Our past can inspire. But it can also imprison and restrict. One aspect of our past that we love to recall as Anglo-Catholics is the stories of the great social reformers who fought poverty, stood with the poor and modelled the Incarnational faith that is at the heart of what we believe. People like Fr Jellicoe who invented the housing association through rebuilding the vermin-infested slum that was Somers Town in the thirties. Or Fr Lowder and his heroic ministry caring for the poor and the sick in London’s East End. Or the All Saints Sisters who alone had the courage to feed and care for cholera victims on the streets of Plymouth.

Feeling inadequate
We could go on and on telling these wonderful stories. They can and should inspire us in our own ministry today. But the problem is all too often they don’t. Rather than inspiring they leave us feeling inadequate. Where are the priests and religious today who are founding hospitals, rebuilding entire estates, forming schools and pioneering social care for the most vulnerable? It is so easy to feel weedy and second-rate compared to the heroes of the past.

But of course things are not quite so easy for us today. In a nation with a National Health Service, state education, social services and a highly developed voluntary sector, it is much harder for us to identify needs and work out where the Church fits in. Churches in areas of greatest deprivation tend to be the weakest, with limited resources and small, ageing congregations, and so it can be extremely hard for priests to know where to start or what to do. All too often this can lead to insularity and inactivity, with churches frightened to reach out in any meaningful way beyond their own doors.

More important than ever
And yet community ministry is more essential now than ever. The question that a post-modern generation asks of the Gospel is not ‘Is this true?’ but ‘How is this being lived out?’ Churches grow when they authenticate the Gospel that they proclaim through practical action. The Church of England is obsessed with the search for a superficial ‘relevance.’ Yet we find renewed trust and credibility not by changing our doctrines to suit the perceived needs of a secular culture, but when we stand alongside the poor. This is the lesson that Pope Francis is so powerfully teaching us.

By thinking intelligently and using resources wisely and well, even the smallest churches can do something to reach out the hand of love into the communities they serve. Here are some potential starting places.

Listening
It is impossible to meet the needs of a community if we are not clear what they are. Jesus begins most of his encounters through asking questions and listening, and that is a lesson that we need to learn. We are often too quick to leap to conclusions and tell people ‘what they need,’ but without proper listening our conclusions could be way off beam.

There are structured ways of listening. For example, many parishes conduct a community audit in which they carry out intellectual research on the parish, organize round tables of local professionals and arrange community meetings to allow people to have their say. It is a great approach if you have the resources to do it, but frankly most of us don’t.

A more sensible approach might be a Citizens UK style Listening Campaign. Quite simply, a small team of clergy and laypeople initiate as many conversations as possible in which people are asked three questions. What is good about living in this area? What is challenging? What changes would you like to see? When those who are doing the listening start to compare what they have heard, issues will begin to emerge. It was from a simple conversation like that some laypeople from St Michael’s Camden Town realized that there was a pressing need for free legal advice in our area for those who cannot afford solicitors’ fees. The result was a legal drop-in set up with a local law firm which now offers advice to upwards of twenty people a week. Good listening leads to appropriate action.

Making use of buildings
There was a time when the Church started to feel embarrassed about large buildings in deprived communities and it was all the rage clumsily to convert them so that they could be ‘multi-use spaces.’ Fortunately today we have recovered our confidence. The greatest contribution that a local church makes to its community is prayer and worship, and so making the Church building available is the start of effective community ministry.

The best approach is simply to leave the building open as much as possible for people to use, and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which encourages this practice, has plenty of advice on how to overcome the obvious security problems that this will cause. there may be other ways of using the building for arts events, schools, concerts and groups of older people. Church halls also provide space where community groups can meet. Once people realize that the local church is generous with its buildings and wants to see them opened up and used, it is amazing what the results can be.

Witnesses in daily life
A group of older members of a congregation I once cared for were complaining one day about the young families. ‘Everything in this Church is down to us. Why don’t those young ones ever do anything?’ I tried to point out that the younger ones were bringing up children and witnessing to their faith in the workplace, but it did not convince. We find it very hard to see the Kingdom at work in activities that are not very clearly labelled ‘Church.’

Yet Christians have families. They go to work. They live in neighbourhoods. They stand in Post Office queues. They are school governors and volunteers. A much overlooked aspect of community ministry is enabling laypeople to live out their faith and bear witness in these mundane, daily activities. We need to help people to see that their Christian duties do not stop when they walk out of the church door.

Partners and volunteers
Your church may not have the strength to set up dynamic new projects or fundraise for ambitious new pieces of work. But there will certainly be others in your parish who are seeking to do so and need some help. The Vatican II documents talk about working with men and women of goodwill, even if they are not Christians, in order to build the Kingdom.

We can surprisingly easily form friendships and constructive partnerships with those on the front line. We can volunteer our services to schools and community groups. The Church is ideally placed to convene meetings of local community workers and offer support. In these ways we are building our presence without taking on unmanageable responsibilities.

Doing what we can
The more we get stuck into our neighbourhoods, the more the gaps in existing provision will begin to emerge. It is vital not to feel intimidated by the perceived need to do something massively bold or ambitious. Doing one thing well is enough for a smaller church.

It may be housing rough sleepers one night a week in partnership with others in a winter night-shelter. It may be offering lunch one day a week in the school holidays for children who receive free meals at school. It may be setting up a group for parents and toddlers. It may be training a few people as debt counsellors with the local credit union. What you do depends on context. But the pride and sense of purpose that a small church can gain from a community project is out of all proportion to the effort invested. It makes people think afresh about what and who the Church is for.

The interesting thing about community ministry is that people want it. On the whole the voluntary sector, local authorities and schools want the Church involved and will be enormously encouraging. By overcoming our fear, listening and then acting wisely, we can very easily place our churches back at the centre of the communities we serve. And the benefits of that can be transformational.

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Affirming Catholicism and SCP on Bishop of Burnley consecration

Joint Statement by Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests on the consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley

Affirming Catholicism and the Society of Catholic Priests are disappointed at the Archbishop of York’s decision not to lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley, and the decision that only three bishops - none of whom ordains women - will lay on hands.

Whilst recognising that this is the Archbishop’s prerogative, the decision is particularly difficult to understand given that the Bishop of Burnley is a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Blackburn and as such will share in responsibility for female clergy in the Diocese and for parishes which welcome the sacramental ministry of women. We are especially exercised that the Bishop of Burnley’s own Diocesan Bishop will apparently not be laying on hands.

Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise and commend the Church of England’s affirmation that those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests should be enabled to flourish within its life and structures. However, we are concerned that the Archbishop of York’s decision does not exemplify the commitment “to maintain the highest possible degree of communion possible” which is articulated in the Five Guiding Principles agreed by General Synod and to which Forward in Faith has explicitly assented. This commitment must be lived out in the light of the first two principles:

  • The Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
  • Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter.

The House of Bishops has emphasised that the Five Guiding Principles “need to be read one with the other and held in tension, rather than being applied selectively.” Affirming Catholicism and SCP recognise that the living out of the principles will be complicated. However, Ministry Division has required that from November 2014, all candidates for ordination should explicitly assent to the Five Guiding Principles. It seems reasonable that such explicit assent should also be demonstrated by all those to be consecrated bishop.

Affirming Catholicism and SCP would therefore welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Burnley and from the Bishop of Blackburn confirming their commitment to the first two of the Five Guiding Principles agreed by the Church of England, and specifically affirming the Bishop of Burnley’s responsibilities towards the female clergy of the Diocese of Blackburn and to the parishes under his care who welcome the ordination of women. We would similarly welcome a statement from the new Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Chester confirming the Bishop of Stockport’s assent to the Five Guiding Principles. Indeed, we believe that a case could be made that all licensed clergy in the Church of England should be expected so to assent.

1 February 2015

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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Three parent baby law is 'irresponsible' says Church of England

Updated twice Sunday morning

That was the headline on a news report in the Telegraph by Sarah Knapton Science Editor of that newspaper: Three parent baby law is ‘irresponsible’ says Church of England ahead of vote.

Introducing laws to allow three parent babies would be ‘irresponsible’ the Church of England has said ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons next week.
Next Tuesday, MPs will vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and legalise mitochondrial DNA transfer.
Until now the Anglican Church has withheld judgement on the issue, asking for more scientific evidence. But today it announced that it could not support the legislation…

A later report by her was headlined: Scientists accuse Church of ignorance over three parent babies.

Scientists have accused the church leaders of refusing to examine overwhelming evidence which shows that the creation of three parent babies is ethical and safe.
The Anglican and Catholic churches have both warned that it would irresponsible for MPs to pass new laws allowing the DNA of a ‘second mother’ to be used to repair genetic faults in an unborn child.
They have called for more scientific evidence to prove that the child will not inherit characteristics from the donor DNA.

But scientists have accused the church of ignoring reams of scientific evidence, and the outcome of a public consultation which showed widespread support for the new ground-breaking IVF treatment.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Mitochondrial donation raises important ethical questions on which the Church of England can be expected to take a view.

“But it is remarkable that the Church has pronounced that there has been insufficient scientific study without first asking the scientists who lead this research, the families who stand to benefit, or the Wellcome Trust, which funds it, to explain the science to the Archbishop’s Council.
“The Church appears to have ignored the unprecedented independent scrutiny of scientific, ethical and public opinion about mitochondrial donation conducted over the last seven years.”

The report goes on to say that:

However the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, said he was backing the legislation change.
“As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible,” he said.
“Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised. “

The official Church of England statement: Statement from Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy on Mitochondrial replacement therapy.

This links to the Mission and Public Affairs Council submission from May 2014 on mitochondrial replacement to the Department of Health consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques to prevent the transmission of a serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child.

And the strongly worded statement issued by the Wellcome Trust which was quoted in the second article in the Telegraph is available in full via this tweet.

Updates

Despite being quoted in the Telegraph earlier as shown above, the Bishop of Swindon is now apparently the joint author, with Brendan McCarthy, of an article on Comment is free entitled The Church of England and the three-parent controversy.

It does not take much to present the Church of England as divided, ignorant or out of touch. As the archbishop of Canterbury has observed, we do tend to conduct our arguments loudly and in front of the neighbours. But that does not mean we cannot agree and in the matter of the provocatively labelled “three parent embryos” there is greater consensus than recent headlines might suggest and a very different message from “the church says ‘no’.”

The Archbishops’ Council, through its division for mission and public affairs (MPA), has taken a keen interest in assisted reproductive technologies since their inception and sought to think through their implications for human identity and responsibility. In this task, the Church of England has sought to help wider society to reach wise judgments and hold tensions that can pull in different ethical directions. It has involved wrestling with dilemmas, quarrying our theological resources and discerning when a risk is not worth taking – and when it must be.

Mitochondrial replacement represents a novel way of enabling women at risk of passing on serious genetic disease to bear healthy children and prevent the passage of that abnormality to further generations. In 2012, the government asked the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority (HFEA) to seek the views of the public on two techniques for mitochondrial replacement. One of us was invited on to the oversight body for this consultation, a group that brought together a cross-section of stakeholders with hugely different attitudes and convictions…

There is also a further news report in the Observer today, by Robin McKie its Science Editor: Scientists strike back at Church of England over DNA transfer trials.

One of the most prominent supporters of a DNA technique designed to eradicate a range of inherited diseases has angrily condemned Church of England claims that MPs were being rushed into a vote to back the process. Consultation had been exemplary, he claimed.

Professor Douglas Turnbull, a Newcastle University scientist who works with women affected by mitochondrial disease, warned that this week’s parliamentary vote could be the UK’s last chance to pioneer the technique.

“I am glad this government has chosen to go ahead with a vote, but I am concerned about how that might play out,” he says. “A good number of MPs don’t appear to like the idea of mitochondrial transfer. If they vote it down then I think the technology could be lost for ever. We are due a new government and when it comes in, it will have other priorities. We may never get this chance again.”

And that would be a tragedy, he believes. There is no cure for mitochondrial disease, which is passed on to children from mothers who possess mutations in the DNA of the mitochondria in their bodies’ cells. The disease varies in its severity as it passes from generation to generation but can often be fatal.

But on Saturday, the church hit back at the criticism. The bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, and Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the church’s medical ethics adviser, said it retained concerns about the possible interactions between DNA in mitochondria and the main DNA in a patient’s cell nucleus. “We want to ensure that as a nation we get such a significant treatment and its regulation right…”

And the Observer has editorial comment:

…We should therefore be clear: the issue facing MPs is the alleviation of the plight of several thousand women in Britain whose mitochondrial DNA puts them at severe risk of giving birth to offspring who will sicken and die. Mitochondrial replacement is a highly specific technique that has been developed to counter that illness and no other. There is no link between its development and the creation of a future in which reckless scientists toy with the genetic profiles of men and women and it is grossly unfair to use conjecture in order to taint a medical technique that will be carefully controlled and licensed and which offers so much to afflicted families.

It is a point that was raised in a letter to the Times last week by a group of the country’s most distinguished scientists and ethicists, including Baroness Warnock and Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston. They made it clear that the question facing parliamentarians on Tuesday is not whether they would want to use the technique themselves but whether there are good grounds to prevent affected families from doing so.

The answer to this point is unequivocal. There is no reasonable ethical justification in stopping families who are affected by the blight of this disease being given access to mitochondrial replacement. MPs therefore have a clear moral duty when they vote on Tuesday. They should approve the measure.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 31 January 2015 at 6:33pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Friday, 30 January 2015

WATCH Statement on the consecration arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley

WATCH published this statement yesterday.

Statement on the consecration arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley on 2nd February 2015
Posted on January 29, 2015

We rejoice that as a result of the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane the Church of England is living in a new era. We therefore recognise that these are early days in finding expression of the five guiding principles in practices that reflect the highest possible degree of communion. Decisions made now will inevitably come under scrutiny. As actions are tested within the community of the Church, we will all be reflecting upon them, and on the shape of mature practices that will in due course emerge to express wide communion and enable mutual flourishing. It will not be easy to do this well, but WATCH is committed to making a constructive contribution to this process from the perspective of its own core principles. For the moment that involves asking sharp questions about this particular consecration, and asking that reflection be done on those questions in a way which engages the wider church as well as those immediately involved.

We recognize that the Archbishop has had very difficult decisions to make about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley, and we know that he will have thought and prayed deeply about those decisions. This is the first significant test in practice of the Five Principles contained in the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and is therefore highly significant.

Given all of this, we would value an explanation of how the Archbishop reached his decision to be present but not to consecrate. We acknowledge that this is based in a wish to offer Christian generosity towards the dissenting minority. However, we are concerned about the theological and ecclesiological implications of this decision and its impact on the unity of the Church of England. Consecrations are public moments, of great significance, and the actions that take place within those rites, as with all Anglican rites, declare our belief as a Church, as much as any written documents. The visual symbol of a divided House of Bishops is a very powerful one, given how hard we have all worked to stay together in one church.

The Five Principles are the basis from which good practice needs to be worked out. In many cases it will not be straightforward to know how best to enable mutual flourishing within the highest degree of communion possible. Our hope is that when decisions are made which purport to aid the flourishing of all they will be carefully tested in terms of the perceptions they will create and their consequences, including the pain and offence they may cause. In our view, male bishops and archbishops will need to exercise particular diligence in this respect, as their common practice is so rooted in a previous male-only era. This will require significant efforts to hear the disparate views of all those most affected, and to help them listen to each other and work out a solution that all can assent to. It would be good to know that such collective wrestling underpins this decision.

What might the Archbishop’s decision to refrain from consecrating a bishop indicate? At the least, it appears to be a tacit endorsement of the rationale that his active laying on of hands would not be welcome by the candidate or a particular constituency that he represents. Given that, we believe it would be very helpful for the House of Bishops to invite the Faith and Order Commission to examine and explore this rationale and the theology underpinning it. That might help those who are perplexed to comprehend it, and therefore be more able to honour the faithfulness of its adherents.

Our greatest sadness is that the word ‘taint’ is in the atmosphere again. However much dissenters refute this as a basis for their beliefs, it is very hard to overcome the perception that because the Archbishop has consecrated a female bishop, he is now unacceptable as a consecrator of a dissenting bishop. This concept causes such deep damage to all of us but it cannot be avoided in these circumstances. We all know the message this conveys to members of the Church and wider society about how women are perceived.

All these issues have particular resonance in this case, as the Bishop of Burnley is a bishop for the whole church, not a PEV. We are concerned that he should be affirmed and upheld through his consecration as a bishop for the people of Blackburn Diocese, not as a bishop whose ministry will be directed solely towards the dissenting minority. He will share the cure of souls across Blackburn Diocese with female and male priests, and will minister across all parishes.

We are very aware of the individuals involved in this case who may find themselves in a spotlight that is unwelcome and unexpected. We pray particularly for them, and for grace and strength to live and speak faithfully in such demanding circumstances.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 30 January 2015 at 11:36am GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Consecrators of the Bishop of Burnley

The website of York Minster carries this notice.

The Service of Consecration for the Reverend Philip North
Tuesday 27 January

The Reverend Philip North, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley on Monday 2nd February 2015.

The Reverend Philip North, currently Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in the Diocese of London, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in the Diocese of Blackburn on Monday 2nd February 2015. The service will be conducted by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, assisted by the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester and the Bishops of Beverley and Pontefract.

Everyone is welcome to attend Philip’s consecration service. The service will begin at 11am with doors open from 9.30am. If you are a Reader or a member of the clergy wishing to attend and would like to robe and process, we do need to know in advance so we can plan seating for you and maximise seating for others. Please contact Hilary Reynolds email: hilaryr@yorkminster.org for more information.

Although the notice does not explicitly say so, it seems reasonable to deduce that the Bishops of Chichester, Beverley and Pontefract are the three bishops who will lay hands on Philip North, and that the Bishop of Chichester will preside at the Eucharist.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 8:45pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 January 2015

The Rt Revd Libby Lane

Updated Monday evening and Tuesday morning

Church House press release

Rt Revd Libby Lane consecrated at York Minster
26 January 2015

The Rt Revd Libby Lane has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster today attended by more than 100 bishops from the Church of England and women bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

In a statement shortly after being consecrated, Bishop Libby said she had been encouraged by the thousands of messages of support she has received since the news of her appointment was announced. She said:

“Archbishop Sentamu has observed, “the way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties.” Today is an occasion of prayer and of party - and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both. I cannot properly express how encouraged I have been in the weeks since the announcement of my nomination, by the thousands of messages I have received with words of congratulation, support and wisdom. I’ve heard from people of all ages, women and men - people I have known for years, and people I have never met; people from down the road, and people from across the world.

“Many those who have been in touch have little or no contact with the Church of England; not all have been people of faith, but every one of them has felt this moment marks something important. That all this personal - and media - attention has centred on me has been a little overwhelming: I cannot possibly live up to everyone’s expectation. And so today, at my consecration, I hold on to words of promise from the Bible, a reassurance that all this does not depend on me … ‘the God who calls you is faithful: He will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

“My consecration service is not really about me. With echoes of practice which has been in place for hundreds of years in the church, it is a reminder that what I am about to embark on is shared by the bishops around me, by those who have gone before me and those who will come after. It places the ministry of a bishop in the context of the ministry of all God’s people. And most importantly it retells the good news of Jesus, the faithful one, who calls each of us to follow him.

“Thank you to all who are praying for me and partying with me today. Please continue to hold me in your prayers as, after the example of St Timothy and St Titus who are celebrated by the Church on this day, I share in work of proclaiming the gospel, in word and action, and bearing witness to the name of Jesus.”

Early press reports (some of which give undue prominence to the lone protester)

Andrew Brown The Guardian First female Church of England bishop consecrated in York

BBC News Libby Lane: First female Church of England bishop consecrated

John Bingham The Telegraph Vicar tries to stop Rev Libby Lane being consecrated as Church of England’s first female bishop

Roisin O’Connor The Independent Libby Lane formally appointed first woman bishop by Church Of England

Claer Barrett Financial Times Church of England ordains first woman bishop

Yorkshire Post ‘Not in my name’: Protestor heckles first female bishop at York Minster service

Dave Walker I have modified my ‘Bishops’ cartoon

Updates

Gavin Drake Church Times C of E’s first woman bishop consecrated

York Mix 12 marvellous moments from the service to ordain #BishopLibby [pictures]

Andrew Brown The Guardian Libby Lane: not quite a Viking raid, but York sees history in the Minster

Jessica Elgot Huffington Post First Woman Bishop Ordained By Church Of England As Libby Lane Made Bishop Of Stockport [pictures]

Sally Hitchener The Independent Libby Lane’s appointment as the first female bishop might have been understated, but its importance echoes around the world

Carey Lodge Christian Today First woman bishop Libby Lane: ‘Pray for me as I share in the work of proclaiming the gospel’

BBC News In pictures: Church of England’s first woman bishop consecration [pictures]

Other links

Chester diocesan website Libby Lane is now Bishop of Stockport

And one piece of trivia. This is the bible presented to the new bishop: Nicholas King’s complete translation of his Study Bible. [h/t Helen-Ann Hartley]

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 26 January 2015 at 2:31pm GMT | Comments (42) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Libby Lane

Updated Monday morning

The Revd Libby Lane will be consecrated as Bishop of Stockport in York Minster tomorrow (Monday) morning.

The Church of England has this published this interview. “Recorded on the day her appointment was announced, it has behind the scenes footage and a previously unseen interview with Libby as she reflects on her faith journey, and looks ahead to her new challenge.”

Press previews

The Guardian leader The Guardian view on Libby Lane’s consecration as bishop of Stockport: a hands-on approach

Jamie Doward and Aduke King The Observer First female bishop: I want to be a role model for girls

Matthew Davis Manchester Evening News New Bishop of Stockport to be consecrated at York Minster on Monday
[Despite what this article says, I can find no scheduled live broadcast of the consecration.]

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph New era for Church of England as first female bishop consecrated
Women in the Church of England: a century of waiting

BBC News Libby Lane: First female bishop to be consecrated

Yorkshire Post Stage is set for the creation of first female bishop
C of E greets first woman bishop
John Sentamu: Alleluia that at last the Church shall have its women bishops

ITV News Libby Lane makes history becoming first Anglican Bishop

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 25 January 2015 at 9:38pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Friday, 23 January 2015

Burnley consecration: media reports and blog comments

Media reports:

Church Times Sentamu exercises ‘gracious restraint’ over traditionalist bishop’s consecration

BBC No ‘taint’ over first female bishop, archbishop says

Telegraph Sentamu rejects ‘taint’ claim in women bishops row

Christian Today John Sentamu: Hand-laying for traditionalist bishop is for ‘prayer not politics’

Blog articles:

Bosco Peters Anglo-Donatism

Oliver Coss The Suffragan See of Burnley

Earlier articles here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 January 2015 at 8:26am GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Statement about the Forthcoming Consecrations from the Archbishop of York

Forthcoming Consecrations
Archbishop of York
Thursday 22nd January 2015

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has today issued the following statement:

With great joy and thanksgiving the Church of England will, in the next two weeks, see the consecration of two fine priests, The Revd Libby Lane, and The Revd Philip North as bishops, respectively, of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, and of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. Nothing should be allowed to constrain our joy, our prayers and our thanksgiving, on either occasion….

Follow this link for the full text of the statement, including a version of the note sent earlier to Northern bishops, and a republication of GS Misc 1079.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 22 January 2015 at 6:41pm GMT | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Consecration of the Bishop of Burnley

Updated third time Thursday morning

Yesterday, Christian Today published the following article by Ruth Gledhill: Consecration of traditionalist bishop set to highlight Church of England divisions

As the consecration of the first female bishop approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest…

And Ruth noted that:

…no-one from the Archbishop’s office, the diocesan office, the cathedral or the women’s ordination group WATCH would comment to Christian Today

Twenty-four hours later, there has still been no comment from any of these sources. Nor from Forward in Faith or The Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.

There have been two blog articles though:

Archdruid Eileen has published At the Multiple Episcopal Consecration

Jonathan Clatworthy has published A woman’s touch and spiritual danger

I will add links to any further official or other statements about this that I discover.

Updates

WATCH has now issued a statement:

Press Release Wednesday 21st Jan 2015
WATCH Statement on Consecrations

Next Monday the Church of England and the nation will rejoice at the consecration of Rev Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England. That will be a great day, and nothing should detract from that moment of affirmation for all women in all walks of life.

We have known about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley for some time, but have not commented publicly out of courtesy to the individuals involved. Our focus has been on the earlier consecration as the fulfillment of a long and deeply held desire by so many, and as a source of good news from the Church.

We are dismayed that it seems that the Archbishop of York will not lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley. We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the eucharist.

We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops at the moment of consecration. The Bishop of Burnley is a suffragan bishop, and not a PEV: he is a minister for the whole Church of England in the Diocese of Blackburn and the people of that diocese are looking forward to working with him across the traditions.

We will issue a statement on the wider ramifications of this in due course.

A reader of Thinking Anglicans who had written to the Archbishop of York has received a reply from his office, which is copied in full below the fold.

Two more blog articles:

Benny Hazlehurst Apostolic Regression

Kelvin Holdsworth One step forward, two giant leaps back – the English Episcopate

Another two:

Janet Henderson Woman’s Touch Not Welcome

Peter Carrell Bishops’ magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them!

According to the CofE Daily Media Digest, The Times [paywall] reports inter alia that:

…the church has yet to confirm whether Dr Sentamu and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, will join the service but adds that Dr Sentamu’s most senior aide said last night that Mr North had not insisted on the arrangement himself.

Dear

Thank you for writing about the Consecration of the new Bishop of Burnley. Arrangements have been made carefully according to the plans put before General Synod in July last year.

Paper GS Misc 1079, Women in the Episcopate, A Note from the Archbishops in paragraphs 7-8 it said:

7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services would be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.

8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.

9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration (GS Misc 1076) and to build the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.’

As you will know the five guiding principles referred to above are:

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

(Extract from GS 1924 – Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate)

I must stress, as in 7 above, that by Royal Mandate the decision as to who lays on hands at the Consecration of a bishop in the Province is for the Archbishop alone to determine. It is the Archbishop who must, in discussion with the candidate, decide how best to proceed in each case. All those bishops present and gathered round the candidate, laying on hands or not, will be participating in the consecration, through their presence and their prayers. It is my prayer that what has been arranged will be a genuine expression both of the five principles, and of the gracious generosity upon which they depend.

When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop on the basis of terms stated in para. 5 (above), to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.

Thank you for your concern, and for your prayers for all involved in preparing both for the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Burnley. May God the Holy Trinity renew his Church in the power of the Holy Spirit, uniting us in Jesus Christ and filling us with the Father’s love.

With every blessing.
+Sentamu Ebor:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 at 4:00pm GMT | Comments (92) | TrackBack
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Senior Church Leadership: A resource for reflection

Church House press release

The Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission has published a contribution to reflection on leadership in the life of the church. Arising out of a request from the General Synod in 2009, it addresses three major questions:

  • Is it right to make ‘leadership’ a central idea in the life of the church?
  • If so, what are the underlying theological principles that inform the exercise of leadership within the church?
  • How can these principles best inform the exercise of senior leadership in the Church of England today?

Based on work undertaken by the Commission over a five-year period, the report complements the series of documents recently published to support the Archbishops’ programme for reform and renewal of the Church of England.

In his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can “inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them.”

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: “What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church’s understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ.”

The report is available at:
https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2145175/senior%20church
%20leadership%20faoc.pdf

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 at 3:17pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Dioceses Commission

One of the papers sent to General Synod members last week was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report for 2014 (GS Misc 1095). It is for information only, so will not be debated next month.

Two sections of the report might be of particular interest to readers.

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

7. 2014 saw the historic creation of the new Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). The appointed day for the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of the new diocese was Easter Day (20 April). The new diocese was formally inaugurated in a special service in York Minster on the Feast of Pentecost (8 June) at which Bishop Nick Baines’ Election as the Bishop of Leeds was confirmed. The Archbishop of York presided and preached and a special congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out.

8. Most of the work of implementing the provisions of the Commission’s Reorganisation Scheme fell on those in the diocese, and the Commission wishes to pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. This work is, however, on-going and much inevitably remains to be done. The Commission itself had specific responsibilities concerning the designation of interim diocesan structures (such as the DBF of the new diocese) and determining compensation for some office holders who would lose their posts under the terms of the Scheme, and appointed sub-committees to handle these tasks.

9. The Commission was very conscious that its Scheme was the first of its kind and, with this in mind, it commissioned one of its number, Professor Hilary Russell, to conduct an evaluation of the process. She conducted about 50 interviews with a range of interested parties in the course of the summer and her Report was published in December – see here.

10. While it needed to be recognised that the Scheme itself was a considerable achievement - being at the maximal end of anything envisaged under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 – the Report made a number of key recommendations for the future, including the following:

  • The need for clearer articulation of the case for change; and better communication particularly to diocesan staff directly affected by the Scheme;
  • The appointment of an adequately resourced facilitator early in the process, supported by a programme management board with representation from the Archbishop’s office, the dioceses, Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council;
  • Better HR and pastoral support for individual post holders directly affected by the Scheme.

Professor Russell’s report is well worth reading in full. It should not be allowed to gather dust in Church House.

Provincial boundaries

22. The Dioceses Commission is responsible for keeping both the provincial and the diocesan structure of the Church of England under review. Following the inauguration of the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales this year, the imbalance of the Provinces is now even more apparent with 12 dioceses in the Province of York and 30 in the Province of Canterbury.

23. The Commission has been encouraged by both Archbishops to review the boundary between the two provinces so as to create a more balanced archiepiscopal workload. The Commission intends to canvas the views of the House of Bishops at a future meeting.

Gavin Drake has these comments and suggestions on where the boundaries should be: Church of England considers moving the north-south divide.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 at 10:32pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

This bill completed all its Commons stages yesterday. First Reading was on 18 December 2014. Yesterday the Commons dealt with an allocation of time motion, the second reading, the committee stage (in a committee of the whole house) and the third reading. As no amendments were made to the bill there was no report stage.

The verbatim Hansard record of the debate is available:
Allocation of time motion
Second reading
Committee stage and Third reading

The bill now goes to the Lords.

There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.

Press report

BBC News MPs back law fast-tracking female bishops into Lords

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Monday, 19 January 2015

General Synod Questions - new arrangements

Questions at General Synod are generally allocated about an hour and a half at the end of the first day’s business. Questions must be submitted in advance, and on arrival at Synod members are given a booklet of all the questions. Each questioner also receives the answer to his/her question. Most questions are for oral answer. In the chamber these questions are not read out, but the person answering reads a pre-prepared answer, and members then have the opportunity to ask one or two supplementaries. As a general rule there is not enough time to answer all the questions.

A few copies of all the prepared answers are available to members after the questions session, and they are all published in due course in the official report of proceedings.

For next month’s meeting, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format, described in this extract from their report (GS 1974).

Questions

21. Based on feedback received from members, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format for Questions at this Group of Sessions. During the trial period Synod members will receive copies of all the answers to questions, in a booklet which will be emailed to them two working days prior to the start of the group of sessions. Paper copies of the booklet will be available at the Information Desk for collection on arrival by those Synod members who do not have access to email.

22. The oral delivery of pre-prepared official answers will be dispensed with. Instead of this, the person answering the question will begin simply by referring to the written answer published in the booklet. The intention is to focus the main business of Questions on the asking and answering of supplementary questions. Priority will be given to the original questioner in the usual way. It is hoped that this new format will allow greater spontaneity and enable Questions to flow more smoothly.

23. The Business Committee would welcome feedback on the trial format for Questions so that they can consider whether to continue with it in the future and promote Standing Order changes to facilitate it. All comments should be sent to the Chair, via the Clerk whose address is available at the end of this Report.

In general only two supplementaries per question are allowed. Since the usual amount of time has been allowed for questions next month it is likely that this new procedure will allow more questions to be dealt with during the question session. Perhaps for some questions the chair will feel able to use his/her discretion and allow more supplementaries.

A list of who may be asked questions is below the fold.

Questions may be asked of:
(i) the Chairman of each of the three Houses of the Synod;
(ii) the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council;
(iii) the Secretary General;
(iv) the Clerk to the Synod;
(v) the Chairman of any body answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council as determined in accordance with the provisions of SO 119(a);
(vi) subject to (viii) below, the Chairman of any Church of England body on which the Synod is represented;
(vii) in matters concerning the Church Commissioners, one of the three Church Estates Commissioners;
(viii) in matters concerning the Royal School of Church Music, the representative of the Synod on its Governing Council;
(ix) the Chairman of any Commission of the Synod established under SO 121.

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The Tablet reports on the CofE Reform and Renewal programme

I wrote an article last week for The Tablet’s website, about the Reform and Renewal programme, which was published under the title Can the Church of England save itself?

The unpublished FAOC report mentioned in that article can still be found here.

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Some more comment on the Green report

The “Green report” was reissued at the end of last week as an attachment to GS 1982 which is a covering note by the Bishop of Ely. See Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders.

Senior Ordained Leadership - a new approach to development of those with
potential for posts with wider responsibility and to the leadership development of
bishops and deans

INTRODUCTION

1. The report “Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for
Bishops and Deans” was commissioned by the Archbishops in January 2014. Though
theologically rooted, it was presented, as requested, as a business case to the Spending Plans Task Group who agreed to commit funding for the project through to the end of 2016. This decision was reported to the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners in September 2014. The proposals were also discussed with the College of Bishops, the Deans Conference and a meeting of Directors of Ministry in autumn 2014. For ease of reference it is set out at attachment 1.

2. This paper is prepared to support the presentation at General Synod on the 10th February 2015 and the subsequent hearing the following day. The Development and Appointments Group (a sub-committee of the House of Bishops) wishes to take the opportunity the Synod discussions will give to i) set the proposals in their wider context ii) connect the theological underpinning of this work with the organisational language of the proposals iii) create space to explore the various issues and concerns that have arisen and iv) provide an update on the detailed design…

The remainder of GS 1982 is well worth a read.

Other articles that appeared before this:

Janet Henderson Leadership Means Partnership

It’s been an interesting time to reflect on leadership. While I’m currently in the middle of an MA in Hospice Leadership, the Church of England has produced The Green Report (nothing to do with ecology!) about senior leadership in the church. Given the coherence and creativity of approach toward leadership training I experience among my hospice peers why, I ask myself, has the Green Report met with such an outcry and so much criticism?

Andrew Lightbown What is leadership? A short post Green reflection.

David Keen Green Shoots? Archbishops introduce CofE nose to the smell of coffee

Usefulinparts 13 key points from the @c_of_e ‘s Green Report (with page no. refs) on #Talent Management -

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Friday, 16 January 2015

General Synod agenda - press reports

Following today’s publication of the agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod these articles have appeared.

John Bingham The Telegraph Vicars face end to job ‘for life’ culture as Church of England fights extinction

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod to tackle raft of reports in small groups

Church Times Group wants to cut C of E’s red legislative tape

Paul Handley Church Times Don’t forget history when you fund the future, Commissioners warn
Plans unveiled day after day for C of E’s new reformation

Gavin Drake Church Times Church of England proposes halving of Synod days
[This refers to GS Misc 1094 Optimising the Roles of the NCIs which was issued to Synod members today and states “It requires no decisions by Synod at this stage but is being circulated for information.”]

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Radical shake up of CofE urged to stop ‘terrifying’ decline

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General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.

General Synod Group of Sessions February 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet at Church House, Westminster, SW1 from 1pm on Tuesday 10 February 2015 until 5 pm on Thursday 12 February 2015.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The main focus of the Synod’s work will be engagement with the wide-ranging programme of reform and renewal of the Church emerging from the various Task Group Reports and the materials on Discipleship. These discussions will take up most of Wednesday 11 February and will involve group work and meetings in larger groups as well as plenary sessions on a series of motions relating to the Tak Groups.

Tuesday 10th February will feature an address by Archbishop Bashar M Warda, CSSR, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil (Eastern rite Catholic) in northern Iraq (Kurdistan). Archbishop Warda will speak further on the issues raised at the panel debate in November on violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address later that afternoon. This will be followed by a Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives to the House of Bishops, including the Rt Revd Libby Lane, the new Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.

The Synod’s engagement with the programme for Reform and Renewal and the Task Group reports will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday 10th February with a presentation by the Chairs of the Task Groups on the reports that will be discussed on Wednesday.

On the morning of Wednesday 11 February, Synod members will start with worship in small groups before moving into group work on the Discipleship report to prepare for the discussion of the Task Group reports. Later the same morning, Synod members will move into larger groups which will be meeting in parallel to discuss the programme emerging from the Task Groups. These will take the form of four ‘ACT’ groups (Accountability, Consultation and Transparency) which will cover Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Resourcing the Future and Inter-Generational Equity and Simplification.

The Synod will move to a sequence of debates on the Discipleship paper and each of the Task Group reports on the afternoon of Wednesday 11 February. The sequence will begin with a debate on a motion on Discipleship moved by the Bishop of Sheffield. The Synod will then move into a debate on a motion on ‘Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education’ introduced by Canon John Spence. The Bishop of Willesden will introduce a debate on the proposals in the Simplification Group’s report. Finally, the First Church Estates commissioner will introduce a motion on Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity. This will conclude the sequence of debates on the Task Groups.

The final day of Synod, Thursday 12 February, will return to more usual business. In the morning there will be a debate on the Revision Stage of the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure. Synod will also be debating a Private Members’ Motion from the Revd Dr Michael Parsons on Canon B38 which calls for the introduction of legislation to amend the Canon to allow those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. Synod will be debating the Revision Committee stage of the draft Alternative Baptism Texts which are being introduced by the Liturgical Commission as an optional alternative to current baptism services in use in the Church at present.

Finally, Synod will be debating a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the subject of ‘Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices’.

There are two items of contingency business at this Group of Sessions. The first is a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield on ‘The Nature and Structure of the Church of England – National Debate’. The second item is a debate on a report fro the World Council of Churches entitled ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’. This will be introduced by the Chair of the Council of Christian Unity.

Synod will conclude at 5pm on Thursday 12th February.

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February General Synod - online papers

Updated 23 January to add second circulation papers

Papers in the first and second circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-12 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available. [now done]

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

GS 1902D - Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]

GS 1928A & GS 1928C - Nature and Structure of the Church of England [contingency business]

GS 1935A - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1952A - Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Thursday]
GS 1953A - Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Thursday]
GS 1952-3Y - Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1958A - Alternative Baptism Texts [Thursday]
GS 1958Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 1964B - Draft Amending Canon No.35 [Tuesday]
GS 1964C - Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence

GS 1972A & GS 1972B - Private Members’ Motions on Canon B 38 [Thursday]

GS 1973 - Agenda

GS 1974 - Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1975 - General Synod Elections 2015: seat allocations [Tuesday]

GS 1976 - A programme for reform and renewal. A note from the Archbishops [Tuesday]

GS 1977 - Discipleship [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1978 - Resourcing the Future Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1979 - Resourcing Ministerial Education Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1980 - Simplification Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1981 - Church Commissioners’ and Inter-Generational Equity [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1982 - Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders [Tuesday]

GS 1983 - Petition to change the names of the Suffragan Sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract [Thursday]

GS 1984 - 50th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Thursday]

GS 1985 - Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices: report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council [Thursday]

GS 1986 - The Church: Towards a Common Vision: Report from the World Council of Churches [contingency business]

Other papers

Prayer card

GS Misc 1092 - Released for Mission: Growing the Rural Church
GS Misc 1093 - Update on Electronic Voting
GS Misc 1094 - Optimising the role of the NCIs
GS Misc 1095 - Dioceses Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1096 - Clergy Stipend Report
GS Misc 1097 - Archbishop’s Council - Review of Consitutions
GS Misc 1098 - The Church of England’s National Work on Education
GS Misc 1099 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council Activities
GS Misc 1100 - Report on Immersion Experience in India [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1101 - The Church of England’s National Ecumenical Relations
GS Misc 1102 - House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

Notice Paper 1 [contains proposed amendments to standing orders]

Group work - Developing Discipleship

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

On Rock or Sand?

Updated

On Rock or Sand?: Firm Foundations for Britain’s Future, edited by the Archbishop of York, is published today (according to Church House Bookshop and Amazon) or next week (according to the Archbishop).

The Archbishop’s announcement states:

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu’s book ‘On Rock or Sand?’ is to be published next week with contributions from experts in economic, political, social and religious disciplines, including Lord Adonis, Sir Philip Mawer, Oliver O Donovan, Andrew Sentance and Archbishop Justin Welby…

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “The book addresses crucial questions about the moral principles that undergird the way Britain is governed. It is about building firm foundations for Britain’s future and setting out the essential values we need to build a just, sustainable and compassionate society in which we can all participate and flourish. We need to rediscover the true meaning of the word economy – it means a household, a community whose members share responsibility for each other. The giant that must be slayed is income inequality - where some few have far too much and the many have too little.”

and includes a video introduction to the book by the Archbishop.

Press reports and comments

Ian Johnston The Independent Anglican archbishops accuse Coalition of abandoning poor amid culture of selfishness

John Bingham The Telegraph
Archbishops’ pre-election assault on ‘evil’ of inequality in Coalition Britain
Church of England’s pre-election blast revives memories of Faith in the City

Ben Riley-Smith The Telegraph David Cameron pledges to do more to help poor after Church of England criticism

BBC News Low earners are being left behind, say archbishops

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Archbishop John Sentamu on why politicians are like men arguing at a urinal

Mark Tran The Guardian UK economy is a ‘tale of two cities’ say archbishops

The Guardian Archbishops speak out on inequality: extracts from On Rock or Sand?

Andrew Brown The Guardian Archbishops try to inject Christianity into welfare state with inequality attack

Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Archbishop of York: “English Christians ain’t persecuted”

Pat Ashworth Church Times C of E’s pre-Election publication warns of lose-lose situations for many towns and cities

Updates

Financial Times editorial Lambeth’s turbulent priest utters harsh truths
Chris Giles Financial Times Church’s book stronger on morals than policy

Peter Dominiczak The Telegraph David Cameron facing row with Church as he ‘profoundly disagrees’ with Archbishops’ attack

The Telegraph editorial Selective wrath

Helen Warrell, Jim Pickard and Clear Barrett Financial Times English archbishops attack government over rising inequality

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Church of England Task Groups: pre-pre-Synod papers

Updated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

The Church of England Press Office today announced a series of papers, to be published each day this week, about the various Task Group reports. The first starts:

The first batch of papers for the February 2015 meeting of the General Synod will be available to download from the Church of England website on Friday 16th January.

Due to the range and volume of material being issued in relation to the various Task Group reports there will be a daily release of key documents this week ahead of the general distribution of papers.

The first paper below is from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York giving an overview of the programme for reform and renewal represented by the work of the task groups and the materials on Discipleship.

This first paper is “In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal.

Paper 2 (Tuesday) is Developing Discipleship.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 3 (Wednesday) is Report of the Simplification Task Group.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Willesden.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 4 (Thursday) is Resourcing Ministerial Education in the Church of England.
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with the Bishop of Sheffield.
There is an online forum to discuss this paper.

Paper 5 (Friday) is Resourcing the Future of the Church of England
There is an accompanying blog and a video interview with John Spence.

Paper 6 (Friday) is Church Commissioners and the work of the Task Groups.
There is a blog and a video interview with Andreas Whittam Smith.

There is an online forum to discuss the above two papers.

I will add later papers to this page as they are published. All papers have now been published.
In addition I will publish my usual list of synod papers when they are published on Friday.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England cannot carry on as it is unless decline ‘urgently’ reversed – Welby and Sentamu
Madeleine Davies Church Times Archbishops unveil ‘urgent’ reform programme for CofE

Gavin Drake Church Times Discipleship is important part of C of E reform programme

Church Times Task group aims to slim down church legislation

Gavin Drake Church Times_ Report proposes big drive to attract new priests

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Green report awarded Fallen Angel prize by Financial Times

Updated three times on Tuesday and again on Friday

Lucy Kellaway writes in today’s Financial Times about a Golden Flannel award made to the Green Report:

… This year I’m awarding a special prize to an organisation that ought to have risen above jargon, but has been dragged down into it. Winner of the inaugural Fallen Angel award goes to the Church of England, which in a paper on training bishops talked of “a radical step change in our development of leaders who can shape and articulate a compelling vision and who are skilled and robust enough to create spaces of safe uncertainty in which the Kingdom grows”. Our Lord, looking down on a sentence in which His Kingdom was obliterated by a dozen dreary management clichés, must have found his genius for forgiveness sorely tested…

Updates

Another article about the Green report, this time by Anderson Jeremiah, has appeared at The Conversation: With regret, the Church of England is turning into The Apprentice.

If you never heard of this website before, it’s explained a bit here.

And Keith Elford has written The Green report: business knows best? You can read about Keith here.

And now, Andrew Lightbown returns to the attack, with this: The Green Report: Fallen Angels and Slippery Slopes.

His earlier articles are here and here.

David Keen has written In Praise of the Green Report.

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Understanding international church sexuality conflicts

Savi Hensman has written a research paper, entitled Better understanding of international church conflicts over sexuality. It is published by Ekklesia.

There is an abstract and table of contents here, and the full paper can be downloaded as a PDF file from this link.

Savi has also written a blog post on the topic, see How do we negotiate the global church sexuality conflict?

In various denominations, debates on sexual ethics and treatment of minorities have sparked heated international controversy. This is sometimes seen as a conflict between a ‘liberal’ west and ‘conservative’ south. But the reality is more complicated.

Both acceptance of, and hostility towards, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can be found across continents and cultures. And, while those most opposed to celebrating, or even allowing, same-sex partnerships sometimes claim to be protecting their people from the influence of the west, their actions serve to reinforce global power imbalances and western domination…

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

February 2015 General Synod - Outline Timetable

The outline timetable for the February 2015 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England is now available to download as a pdf file, and is copied below.

GENERAL SYNOD: FEBRUARY 2015 GROUP OF SESSIONS
Timetable

Tuesday 10 February

1.00 pm – 7.15 pm

1.00 pm Worship
Formal Business
Short address by Ecumenical Guest
Report by the Business Committee

Report by the Business Committee on the Allocation of Seats in the 2015 General Elections

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives of House of Bishops

Legislative Business

  • Enactment of Amending Canon No 32 (relating to GS elections)
  • Amending Canon No 35 – Final Approval
  • Naming of Dioceses Measure – Revision Stage

4.15 pm Questions

5.40 pm Presentation on the Task Groups and Discipleship Report

7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 11 February

(9.15 am – 11.15 am Worship followed by Group Work on Discipleship)
(11.20 am – 1.00 pm Discussion in Four Larger Groups on Task Groups)

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Discipleship:
Debate on a Motion from the Ministry Council

Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education
Debate on a Motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Simplification
Debate on a Motion

Debate on Inter-generational Equity
Debate on a Motion from the Church Commissioners

7.00–7.15 pm Evening worship

Thursday 12 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall

10.30 Legislative Business

  • Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure/Amending Canon No 34 – Revision Stage
  • Petition to change the names of the suffragan sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract (if a debate is required)

Standing Orders Debate

Private Member’s Motion - Canon B38

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Liturgical Business
Alternative Baptism Texts – Revision Stage

Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices
Take Note Debate from the Mission and Public Affairs Council

4.45 p.m Farewells
Prorogation

Contingency Business

Diocesan Synod Motion - Nature And Structure Of The Church Of England: National Debate

Debate on a motion on a Report from the World Council of Churches: ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Green report: letters to the Church Times

Updated again Sunday evening

Today’s Church Times has a large number of letters commenting on the Green report, and you can read them all on this page: Responses to the Green report on senior appointments in the C of E.

Earlier TA articles about this are here, here, and here.

Some further blog articles:

Lay Anglicana Training For Leadership In The Church Of England

Vic the Vicar Finding Talent: The Pool and a Plea and now also Dear Lord Green.

In addition to the letters, there is a news article: C of E leaders respond to ‘turbulence’ over Green report.

Update
Stephen Cherry has written The Green Report and the Hymnbook Test.

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill published

Updated again Saturday

The following ministerial statement has been issued by a government minister, Mr Sam Gyimah:

Publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Today the Government is introducing the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes.

The Bill follows the legislation permitting women to be ordained bishops. That was completed by the General Synod of the Church of England on 17 November. With the way clear for the first women to be appointed, it is right that those women should be amongst the Bishops who occupy seats in the House of Lords (known as Lords Spiritual). This Bill is intended to allow that to happen sooner than it would under the existing rules.

Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by Bishops in order of seniority (length of service). Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.

The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next ten years, so that if a female bishop is available when a Lords Spiritual seat becomes vacant, they will automatically be appointed to the House of Lords. If no female bishop is available, the vacancy would be filled by the next most senior male bishop, as currently happens…

The text of the bill is now published here. The explanatory notes are over here.

Update The following press release has been issued from Church House, Westminster:

Church of England welcomes publication of Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

The Church of England has welcomed a Bill published today by the Government aimed at speeding up the introduction of the first women diocesan bishops into the House of Lords.

Bishop Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and convenor of the bishops in the House of Lords, welcoming the Bill, said the presence of women diocesan bishops would “enrich and strengthen” the voice of the bishops in the House of Lords.

He said: “We know that women bishops will enrich and strengthen the leadership of the Church of England and we are very confident that they will also enrich and strengthen our voice in the House of Lords.

“We have reason to suppose that this is supported from all sides of both Houses and we are grateful to the business managers for making time to get this minor amendment to the law in place as soon as possible.”

The Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: “There was very widespread support across Parliament for the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England and I think there will be a widespread welcome to legislation that will enable women who are diocesan bishops to become Lords Spiritual at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Under current rules, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester are entitled to sit in the House of Lords from the start of their appointments.

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill makes provision for vacancies among the remaining 21 places, which are normally filled according to length of service, to be filled as they arise by eligible female diocesan bishops. The provision would remain in place for 10 years, equivalent to two fixed term Parliaments.

The proposed legislation would not prevent male bishops from entering the House of Lords during this period as vacancies would be filled, as is currently the case, by the longest serving male diocesan bishop if there is no eligible female diocesan bishop in line at that time.

After the end of the 10-year period, the provision made by the Bill would come to an end and the current arrangements under the Bishoprics Act 1878 for determining which bishops are to fill vacancies in the House of Lords would be restored.

ENDS

Update
There is a detailed discussion of this legislation at Law & Religion UK Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill – analysis.

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more on Bishop of Stockport

More news reports in addition to those I linked to yesterday

Isabel Hardman The Spectator Meet Libby Lane – the first interview with the first woman bishop

John Bingham The Telegraph First woman bishop ‘grew up believing that anything was possible’
First woman bishop: ‘Now I hope to see more like me’

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Rev Libby Lane will be first woman bishop for Church of England

Emily Dugan The Independent Manchester vicar Rev Libby Lane will be Church of England’s first woman bishop

Edward Malnick The Telegraph First woman bishop: profile of parish priest Libby Lane

Caroline Crampton New Statesman Meet Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first woman bishop

Megan Gibson Time Meet the Church of England’s First Ever Female Bishop

A welcome from the Archbishop of Canterbury

And a few comments from campaigning organisations

Forward in Faith
WATCH
Reform

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 10:13am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport

From the Church of England website

The Revd Libby Lane Announced as Bishop of Stockport
17 December 2014

Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter’s, Hale, and St Elizabeth’s, Ashley.

As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minister on Monday 26 January 2015.

Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter’s Hale and St. Elizabeth’s Ashley.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West

Speaking at Stockport town hall where she was announced as the new Bihsop of Stockport Libby Lane said: “I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.

“The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead.”

Responding to news of the announcement the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, said: “It is with great joy that on January 26, 2015 - the feast of Timothy and Titus, companions of Paul - I will be in York Minster, presiding over the consecration of the Revd Libby Lane as Bishop Suffragan of Stockport. Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands. I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.

“When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to ‘pour some balm on (my) wounded heart’. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. ‘Be comforted’, he said, ‘it will come.’

“When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: ‘Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!’

“Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: “”I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.

“She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving”.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “Libby has had a varied and distinguished ministry, and is currently a first-rate parish priest. She has already demonstrated her ability to contribute nationally through her representative role in the House of Bishops, on behalf of the north-west England dioceses.

“As the first woman bishop in the Church of England she will face many challenges as well as enjoying many opportunities to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that she has the gifts and determination to be an outstanding bishop.

“I am delighted at her designation as Bishop of Stockport after a lengthy process of discernment across the Church of England and beyond.”

The nomination of Libby as the new Bishop of Stockport was approved by the Queen and announced today (Wednesday 17 December 2014). Libby succeeds the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Biographical Details:

Libby Lane has been the Vicar of St Peter’s Hale and St Elizabeth’s Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since April 2007, and from January 2010 has also been Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese. After school in Manchester and University at Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Prior to moving to Hale, Libby was Team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team, and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the church. She continues to be a Bishop’s Selection Advisor.

Libby has served in the Diocese of York, as Chaplain in hospital and further education, and as Family Life Officer for the Committee for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Chester.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

Her husband, George, is also a priest; they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. George is Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. They have two grown up children in higher education.
Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.

Resources available:

A Video statement by The Revd Libby Lane on her appointment is available from the Diocese of Chester Website here (Chester Diocese youtube channel is available here).

An audio interview with The Revd Libby Lane on today’s announcement is available as part of a Church of England podcast here.

A photostream from today’s announcement including photos of The Revd Libby lane are available here.

Announcement on the Chester diocesan website England’s first woman bishop to be Libby Lane

Announcement from Number 10 Suffragan See of Stockport: Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane nomination approved

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 10:05am GMT | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Society announces a process for priests to register

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:

Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.

Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).

So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?

The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.

Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:

  • believe and teach the catholic faith
  • are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
  • have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
  • will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
  • will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).

When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.

Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.

Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.

Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.

So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?

There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.

Priests of The Society

One of the most important purposes of The Society is to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which our people can have confidence - in other words, to offer ‘sacramental assurance’. Registering priests as Priests of The Society is the mechanism for doing this.

Priests are not being registered as ‘members of The Society’ (The Society is not a membership organization), but as priests whose ministry can be commended because they are male priests ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession. Registration is about sacramental assurance - not membership.

The ministry of priests who are not entitled to minister in the Church of England (because they hold no office and have no licence or permission to officiate) cannot be commended to or received by our parishes, so they cannot be registered as Priests of The Society. If a Priest of The Society ceases to be entitled to minister in the Church of England, the Declaration that he has signed obliges him to inform the relevant member of the Council of Bishops of The Society immediately.

In order to become a Priest of The Society, a priest makes a Declaration and sends it to the relevant member of the Council of Bishops. In response, the bishop sends him a Welcome Letter. In the letter, the bishop tells the priest to retain the letter and show it to anyone who wants confirmation of his status as a Priest of The Society. (This might be an incumbent or priest in charge who needs priestly assistance, a churchwarden during a vacancy, or someone involved in making a parochial appointment.)

The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. The Society is not a priestly society, and it does not fulfil the functions of societies like the Society of the Holy Cross or the Company of Mission Priests. Registration as a Priest of The Society is not about membership, fellowship, holiness or mission. It is simply a way of identifying priests who can minister in parishes that are affiliated to The Society without the need for research about the nature of the priest’s Orders.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 9:48pm GMT | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Church of England releases Talent Management report

Updated again Sunday evening

The Church of England has now published the “Green report” on its own website, here.

together with A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”. He is described at the end of that note as:

Chair of the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops with oversight of the development for senior clerical posts as well as the appointments processes to them.

Several recruitment advertisements have appeared:

Head of Senior Leadership Development

Talent Development Manager and more detail here and also here.

Updates

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued The Green Report: A Response.

The Dean of Liverpool has written Lord Green’s Report: A reflection [f]rom a member of the Group.

Andrew Lightbown has responded to the above in this article: An open letter to advocates of the Green Report.

Al Barrett has written On ‘talent pools’ and floods…

Justin Lewis-Anthony has written A Gregorian critique of Managerialism, i
Update The full essay is now available here as a 22 page PDF.

And Oliver Coss has something to say about this in his post on another topic, see The Suffragan See of Stockport.

Archdruid Eileen offers us The Church of England / Business Translator.

The Financial Times has a news report: Church of England management courses overlook God, say critics registration required

Mark Clavier has written It shall not be among you.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 3:42pm GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Monday, 15 December 2014

Reactions to the Green report

Updated

Several commentators have written about these proposals for business school style training programmes for selected clergy. Here are some links, and I will add more as I discover them (or as readers report them to me).

Andrew Lightbown An open letter to Lord Green et al

Richard Murphy Should the Church of England really be taking a lead from Lord Stephen Green?

Rachel Mann ‘These are not the leaders you’re looking for’ - talent pools, management & the C of E

Michael Sadgrove The Next Generation of Church Leaders: thoughts on the Green Report

Updates

“Archbishop Cranmer” Church of England to spend £2m on “new approach” to leadership

Ian Paul Should bishops come from a ‘talent pool’?

Ruth Gledhill Can business training solve CofE’s ‘toxic’ leadership problem?

“Archdruid Eileen” Infecting the Church with Mangerialism

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 December 2014 at 8:32am GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Friday, 12 December 2014

Business school style training proposed for some clergy

The Church Times today carries several articles about the recommendations made in a report which is titled Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach.

Paul Handley has written a news report: Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E Report of the Lord Green Steering Group.

Martyn Percy has written a highly critical review of the report: Are these the leaders that we really want? Here are two extracts:

…In terms of process, there is a problem about the composition of the group who produced the report. Not one ordained woman was on the review group - and at a time when the Church is about to welcome women bishops. This is breathtaking. Nor was there a recognised theologian, or an academic specialising in continuing professional or vocational education. And, despite the fact that the report raises secular “MBA-style” programmes to a level of apotheosis, no recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party.

In the actual text of the Green report, there are a couple of serious issues to wrestle with. First, it has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom. Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to executive management, with a little theological garnish. A total absence of ecclesiology flows from this. The report has little depth or immersion in educational literature.

A more notable absence is any self-awareness in the report: unaware of critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature, it is steeped in its own uncritical use of executive management-speak…

And this:

…Ultimately, the report is coy about the problem it is actually trying to solve: ecclesiastical preferment. No definition of leadership is ever advanced in the text. The report shows no evidence of having solicited the views of the led. Or of former church leaders. The executive managers already know what they are looking for in preferment - folk like themselves.

There is no critique offered of the expectations placed on church leaders. The text focuses on training people for management tasks that the review group take as givens. No different models of leadership are discussed, such as servanthood, collaborative ministry, or pastoral care.

Although executive managers are patently not the leaders of the Church, they none the less aspire to be in charge. If this report is put into practice, they will be. A few administrative offices either side of the Thames, based in Church House, Westminster, or at the Wash House at Lambeth Palace - secretariats that once served the Church - will become sovereign.

THIS work on leadership in the Church really needs to begin in a different place with different people, starting with deep spiritual, intellectual, and theological interlocutors. They would produce something less presumptuous, with a clearer methodology and a cogent argument rather than a set of assertions…

And there is a Church Times leader column: A pooling of talents.

…there are other models of management and leadership: ones that require a humility that is unlikely to be engendered by an invitation to join an elite leadership pool. Had Lord Green’s steering group looked at the Church’s systems rather than its individuals, they might have concluded that a pool of talent exists already in the Church, and that it is not necessary to train individual leaders to hold every skill. When diocesan bishops, say, function as part of a diocesan team, they will draw on any expertise that they lack: finance, human resources, and so on. In such a system, the concept of leadership runs counter to the alpha-male model depicted in the Green report. Here the bishop is an enabler, challenger, or encourager. It is probably notable that, while the word “leader” occurs 171 times in the report, the word “pastor” or “pastoral” does not appear once.

There is clear value in a checklist for ministerial training. It is wise stewardship to ensure that the right skills are nurtured, and that people are encouraged to apply for the right posts. The present ad hoc system, which relies too heavily on being noticed or finding favour, is inadequate. It is wise, too, to borrow best practice from secular institutions; but it needs to be applicable to an institution that, uniquely, follows a founder whose evidence-based record of leadership involved abandonment and death.

The report itself is already in quite wide circulation, although it is not yet on the CofE website, and there seems to be no page there dealing with the Development and Appointments Group, which appears to be a subcommittee of the House of Bishops.

Thinking Anglicans was shown it several weeks ago. Readers may judge the full report for themselves here.

Curiously, another document has also just appeared, which though closely related in subject matter is of a quite different character. It is from the CofE Faith and Order Commission, and entitled Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection. Sadly very little of its thinking seems to have permeated the Green report. It is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 December 2014 at 4:30pm GMT | Comments (66) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Oxford Faith Debate on Vision for the Church of England

The fifth and final debate of the current Oxford series took place last Thursday. Audio recordings of the entire event are now available on this page.

Those who have been attending regularly seemed to agree that this debate was the best of the series. Do listen to it all if you can.

Links to the opening statements:

Link to the ensuing discussion.

Lorraine Cavanagh has written about the event here: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

Update Video highlights are also now available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 8:30pm GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Monday, 8 December 2014

All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty

The All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty released its report Feeding Britain today. The Group was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke at the launch and a copy of his speech is available here, and an article written by the Archbishop on food poverty in the Mail on Sunday is available here.

There was much media anticipation of the report overnight.

Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler The Guardian Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
and Nick Clegg calls for rethink on benefits sanctions to help tackle food poverty
Andy McSmith The Independent Food banks: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urges politicians to face up to Britain’s hunger
Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Families go hungry as supermarkets send millions of tonnes of food for landfill
ITV News ‘Stop food waste and speed up benefits payments to end UK hunger,’ say MPs and church in foodbank report
Hannah Richardson BBC News ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge

And more since publication

Graham Riches The Guardian Food banks don’t solve food poverty. The UK must not institutionalise them
Rose Troup Buchanan The Independent Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to ‘issues with the welfare system’
Frank Field and John Glen New Statesman Food banks: why can’t people afford to eat in the world’s sixth richest country?
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Britain’s hunger crisis: Bishop of Truro says benefits system doesn’t work
Keith Hebden Ekklesia Feeding Britain: A start, but much more emphasis on justice needed

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 8 December 2014 at 5:30pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Friday, 5 December 2014

Reactions to "headship" bishop

Yesterday I published details of the forthcoming Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship. There are already many comments on that article.

Tim Wyatt has written this for the Church Times Ground is laid for a conservative Evangelical bishop.

Kelvin Holdsworth has posed 10 questions arising from the misogyny of a “headship” bishop.

WATCH have issued this response:

WATCH Response to ‘Headship’ Bishop

WATCH is disappointed to read that the Church of England is set to appoint a Bishop based predominantly on a narrow theology of ‘Headship’ (ie. a Conservative Evangelical who believes only men should be in positions of overall leadership).

Evangelicalism has long been a much broader tradition than one defined by its position on the ordination and consecration of women. We believe that to choose a bishop based on one specific view, held by only a small group, can only serve to be divisive. It is likely to lead to the separation of parishes from one another within a local area and diocese, when the whole thrust of the legislative package for women to be bishops was that we would remain together in our work and mission.

In a separate development, we are keen to know whether the Archbishop of York will consecrate the newly appointed Bishop of Burnley, Rev Philip North, who opposes the ordination of women. It would seem to us bizarre if a suffragan bishop declined to be consecrated by his own archbishop and even his own diocesan bishop, because he did not recognise them as bishops.

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH says: ‘We have never accepted the appointment of any bishop on the grounds of a particular minority belief: this is distinctly un-Anglican and unorthodox. This goes far beyond disagreement about the ordination of women: it is about bishops recognising each other as bishops. If we lose that, what kind of unity are we demonstrating as a national church?’

Church Society have sent us this:

Church Society statement on the announcement regarding the appointment of a headship evangelical bishop of Maidstone

Church Society welcomes the news that a man who upholds the complementarian view of headship will soon be appointed to the vacant See of Maidstone.

The measure – recently ratified by Synod – allowing women to be appointed to the episcopate, was passed partly on the basis of five guiding principles. These principles enshrine within the legislation a commitment to the flourishing within the Church of those who hold to what we believe is the biblical view of men and women having complementary roles in church leadership, a view held by many throughout the Anglican Communion and by many other churches also.

The imminent appointment of a bishop with this conviction is an important step in realising that commitment and rebuilding trust in the family of the Church. We are particularly encouraged by the recognition that the evangelical complementarian perspective should be represented in the College of Bishops after several years without a spokesman.

We wish to stress that this is but a first step: for flourishing, rather than mere toleration and tokenism, more surely needs to be done. For example, if soon a complementarian suffragan were to be appointed in the province of York also, that would be a further positive expression of the Church’s intent that complementarians can flourish within the structures and life of the Church. There are many excellent and able conservative evangelical ministers who are willing and able to serve in Diocesan and suffragan roles for the health of the whole church. We pray that they will not be discriminated against in any future appointments process if some may be tempted to say “we will soon have one complementarian evangelical and should not have any others.” The large number of lay people in the Church with complementarian convictions evidences the appropriateness of having several more bishops to pastor, lead, and represent them in the House of Bishops.

Despite this and other remaining concerns, we wish sincerely to thank the Archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues for keeping his promise, and for seeking to serve us in accordance with our conscience in this matter. We would welcome any opportunity to discuss with him how the arrangements regarding the Bishop of Maidstone could work, and how he can further help complementarian evangelicals to flourish within the Church of England.

Rev Dr Lee Gatiss
Director of Church Society
Revd Paul Darlington
Chairman of Church Society Council

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 5 December 2014 at 9:13pm GMT | Comments (53) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Appointment of a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship

The arrangements to allow the appointment of a Church of England bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship have just been announced in this press release:

Suffragan See of Maidstone

At its meeting on 4 December the Dioceses Commission unanimously agreed with a proposal received from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the vacant see of Maidstone. The see, which had been vacant since 2009, had been identified by the Archbishop as one that should be filled by a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flows from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013 — GS Misc 1079).

In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

While available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral, the Commission understood that — given his potentially wide geographical remit — the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

The necessary steps to make the appointment will now begin.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.

Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.

This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004: [GS 1557].

The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full at GS Misc 1076.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 December 2014 at 4:24pm GMT | Comments (62) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth: Nicholas McKinnel

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth: Nicholas McKinnel

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 2 December 2014
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel to the Suffragan See of Plymouth.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Nicholas Howard Paul McKinnel, MA, Suffragan Bishop of Crediton, in the Diocese of Exeter, to the Suffragan See of Plymouth, in the Diocese of Exeter, in succession to the Right Reverend John Frank Ford, MA, on his resignation on 18 November 2013.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel (aged 60), was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy at Fulham Saint Mary North End in London Diocese from 1980 to 1983.

From 1983 to 1987 he was Chaplain at Liverpool University. From 1987 to 1988 he was Priest-in-Charge at Hatherleigh in Exeter Diocese. From 1988 to 1994 he was Rector at Hatherleigh, Meeth, Exbourne and Jacobstowe. From 1994 to 1995 he was Priest-in-Charge at Plymouth Saint Andrew with Saint Paul and Saint George. From 1995 to 2012 he was Team Rector of Plymouth Saint Andrew and St Paul, Stonehouse in the Diocese of Exeter, and from 2002 to 2012 he was Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. Since 2012 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Crediton.

Prebendary Nicholas McKinnel is married and has 4 children. His interests include sport, the arts and the countryside.

From the Exeter diocesan website: New Bishop of Plymouth to be Rt Revd Nick McKinnell

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 2 December 2014 at 11:25am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Oxford Faith Debate on Diversity

Debate 3 was reported here.

A press release was issued just prior to Debate 4. This was heavily criticised by Ian Paul in The state of the (Westminster) debate.

The debate took place on 20 November and the full audio recordings are now available here.

Several who were there have blogged about it:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 27 November 2014 at 5:20pm GMT | Comments (14)
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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests

The arrangements under which Church of England parishes can now, on grounds of theological conviction, seek the priestly or episcopal ministry of men are contained in the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests which was made by the House of Bishops in May 2014. There is also a grievance procedure if PCCs are not satisfied with the arrangements offered. This procedure could only be officially put in place after the new Canon allowing women to become bishops was promulged at General Synod on Monday 17 November, and the House of Bishops did this that evening.

The Declaration, together with a guidance note, and the Grievance Procedure are available online.
Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (GS Misc 1076)
Guidance Note (GS Misc 1077)
Grievance Procedure: Regulations made by the House of Bishops under Canon C 29 (GS Misc 1087)

It should be noted that drafts of the Declaration and Grievance Procedure (GS 1932) were presented to, and “welcomed” by General Synod in February 2014, so none of this was new this month.

it was also announced before the November meeting of Synod that Sir Philip Mawer would be the first Independent Reviewer for the grievance procedure (GS Misc 1090).

This is all available on the Church of England website, along with a summary of how to bring a grievance: Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 at 8:52pm GMT | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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Monday, 24 November 2014

Cathedral Statistics 2013

The Church of England has issued its Cathedral Statistics 2013 today, along with this press release.

Cathedrals offer place of peace and prayer in busy lives, reveal new stats
24 November 2014

The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.

Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance - life’s run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable.”

Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.

The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, commented: “We do have the opportunity of allowing people to come in from the edges. If I take a eucharist at 12.30 in the middle of the week in the nave of York Minster there’ll be a lot of people who just slide in from the side. It’s not so much about anonymity, there’s the feeling there’s a journey you can travel which doesn’t require huge steps - it just requires one little step.”

Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, said: “Patterns of church attendance are different now. Cathedrals are uniquely placed to be providing greater opportunities for worship and that includes during the week.”

The Stats also show that attendance at Christmas cathedral services had increased rising from 117,200 in 2012 to 124,300 in 2013 with many cathedrals putting on new services.

Notes

More information on Lichfield Cathedral can be found here.
More information on York Minster can be found here.
More information on Gloucester Cathedral can be found here.

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Questions about leaks from the Crown Nominations Commission

The following questions were put to the Archbishop of Canterbury during Questions at General Synod on Monday evening by Dr Jo Spreadbury (St Albans).

Has the Commission considered why one name consistently appears in the media as having been under consideration by it and whether, when such reports appear, the Commission might in the interests of fairness release the names of all those who were in fact on the shortlist for the appointment concerned?

The Archbishop, speaking as Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission, replied:

Those who take part in Crown Nominations Commissions or who are involved in the process for selecting suffragan bishops are bound by requirements of confidentiality, something that we repeat at each CNC at the beginning of the process. There are strong arguments both for transparency and for confidentiality. It is a question which is discussed from time to time, and the Archbishop of York and I keep it under review, as he has already said.

It is, however, precisely because selection processes are meant to be confidential - in the interests of all concerned - that it is so damaging when reports appear in the press purporting to give inside information and naming an individual. The harm is done whether these are true, false or wholly speculative. It is unkind, hurtful and unjust to the person concerned and simply should not happen.

Supplementary question:

Given the damaging reports that you refer to, what steps will be taken to revise the CNC process, both to call to account members who breach the declaration of confidentiality they make, and to prevent undue influence in the process, even say by the Archbishop of Canterbury, even say in the interests of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop replied:

We will continue to keep the way that we operate under close review, and to ensure that it is carried out in line with the Equality Act, wherever that applies.

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What Tim Allen said about discrimination in CNC appointments

During the debate on the Business Committee report, Mr Tim Allen (St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) made a speech in which, while requesting further action from the archbishops in relation to the selection of women for episcopal appointments, he mentioned specifically:

…their formidable powers of process control, leadership, and forceful persuasion to ensure (I am putting it very politely) that the CNC moves boldly with all speed and determination to the appointment of as many as possible of the best of the Church of England’s excellent senior women as diocesan bishops, preferably with seats in the House of Lords…

He later continued:

…And there is a closely related matter, on which I hope Archbishop Justin will also respond. For it is not only women who were excluded in a discriminatory and prejudiced way from the House of Bishops. So too were, and still are, those gay men who do not hide their sexuality in the closet. Those who are honest and frank enough to live openly in a civil partnership while behaving in the chaste way required by church law are it seems, from all the evidence de facto excluded from the House of Bishops, even when they are eminently qualified to be a bishop.

To make bishops of women required today’s change in the law of the church. But it is not law, it is simply prejudice which keeps out of the House of Bishops these men who are gay, chaste and honest. Such prejudice and discrimination is wrong, even when it is dressed up as a necessary tribute to certain homophobic elements of the Anglican Communion. Such prejudice and discrimination will increasingly be seen to be wrong by much of the nation which the Church of England seeks to serve, especially the younger people, who have shown for example by their sympathy for Alan Turing the gay wartime codebreaker [to] utterly reject the persecution of homosexual people.

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Women bishops legislation: Isle of Man & Channel Islands

Updated on Sunday to add the two supplementary questions

The Questions on Monday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:

The Revd Rosalind Rutherford (Winchester) asked the Secretary General:
Q What steps need to be taken to ensure that all the components of the legislative package for Women in the Episcopate will apply fully in the Isle of Man and in all the Channel Islands; and can you confirm that these steps have been taken so that the legislation can come into force on the same day as that on which it is expected to come into force in England (17th Nov 2014)?

Mr William Fittall replied:
A The legislation that has come into force today in England cannot come into force in the Crown Dependencies until the usual processes involving the civil authorities of those distinct jurisdictions have been completed. In the case of the Isle of Man a draft Measure has been prepared, for consideration by the diocesan synod at the earliest possible opportunity on 13 January, and will then need to be submitted to Tynwald. In the case of the Channel Islands a scheme needs to be drawn up in consultation with the deanery synods of the Islands, communicated to the States General for comment, approved by the General Synod and then confirmed by Order in Council. I understand that process is about to begin but it is a little too soon to predict the timescale.

Update

Rosalind Rutherford asked a supplementary question:
Q I think many members will think it’s regrettable it’s not possible to give a specific date for the Channel Islands, but could you assure Synod that active and practical encouragement will be given to those responsible for the process to ensure that it will take significantly less time than the extra six years it took the 1992 Measure to be applied in the Islands.

Mr Fittall replied:
A Well we have just broken the land speed record in getting the legislation through the Ecclesiastical Committee in about eight days and through the two Houses of Parliament very speedily after the recess. In relation to the civil authorities in the Channel Islands it would be very good if we could similarly create a new record, but I am afraid I cannot guarantee because that is not ultimately in my hands or indeed in the hands of the General Synod.

The Bishop of Dover asked:
Q Would the Secretary General find it helpful to know that letters have gone to the deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey to actually start the process already?

Mr Fittall replied:
A That is very encouraging.

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich: Martin Alan Seeley

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 20 November 2014
Part of: Arts and culture

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley, MA, STM, Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge in the Diocese of Ely, for election as Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich in succession to the Right Reverend William Nigel Stock, BA, on his translation as Bishop at Lambeth on 13 November 2013.

Notes for editors
Martin Seeley is 60, and read geography and then theology at Jesus College, Cambridge, before a year at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He was awarded the English Fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and continued his ministerial training there. He served his title at the parish of Bottesford with Ashby, Scunthorpe in Lincoln Diocese from 1978 to 1980. He then returned to New York City where he served as curate at the Church of the Epiphany and Assistant Director of Trinity Institute, Trinity Wall Street, from 1980 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990 he was Executive Director of the Thompson Center, an ecumenical lay and clergy education programme in St Louis, Missouri. He returned to England in 1990 and until 1996 was a Selection Secretary at the Advisory Board of Ministry and Secretary for Continuing Ministerial Education. From 1996 to 2006 he was Vicar of the Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, in the Diocese of London. Since 2006 he has been Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge and also from 2008 Honorary Canon at Ely Cathedral. He has also served as President of the Cambridge Theological Federation for the past 2 years.

He is married to the Reverend Jutta Brueck, Priest in Charge of St James’, Cambridge and they have two children, Anna, 14 and Luke, 11. He is a keen and able cook, and a keen, but less able saxophonist.

The diocesan website has more details: Next Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Why unity eludes the Church of England

Press Release from Westminster Faith Debates

In his presidential address to General Synod this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of divisions within the Anglican Communion, and of the prize of being able to develop unity in diversity. Closer to home, he is supporting ‘facilitated conversations’ in the CofE as a way of healing rifts over the issue of gay marriage. What’s the chance of success?

A recent survey of CofE clergy by YouGov, commissioned by the Westminster Faith Debates, reveals a major obstacle in the way of the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well’: a relatively small group of the most evangelical male clergy.

Evangelical profile

When asked where they fall on spectrum from evangelical to catholic, roughly a third of all clergy say they are at the evangelical end, a third at the catholic end, and a third in the middle. The third at the evangelical end hold some distinctive and pronounced views.

For instance, a full 88% of these evangelicals say that same-sex marriage is wrong, compared with just over a third of the rest of the clergy. Similarly, 31% of evangelical clergy would ban abortion altogether, a figure which falls to 16% among Anglican clergy overall.

These differences are not a block to unity – if those who hold them are happy to tolerate different views within the Church. But here comes the rub.

Evangelical men beg to differ

The survey of 1,500 Anglican clergy asked about the most appropriate approach to unity in the Anglican Communion. While the majority of clergy support the aim of ‘maintaining unity by being more tolerant of diverse views,’ two thirds of the evangelical clergy disagree, contending either that the Church should seek greater uniformity of views or else that it should not be afraid of separating amicably along doctrinal and ethical lines.

What the survey also finds, however, is that it is evangelical men not evangelical women who are opposed to the Archbishop’s goal of ‘disagreeing well.’ Most evangelical women clergy (61%) agree with the majority of clergy who support greater toleration. But 68% of evangelical male clergy disagree.

The typical view of evangelical male clergy is both to oppose gay marriage and not to wish the Church to embrace diverse views. Overall this combination of views is held by about 25% of clergy, the majority of whom are male evangelicals. These are a major block to the Archbishop’s dream of unity in the CofE—- clergy who don’t think it a goal worth pursuing—-especially because so many of them belong to the same clergy “tribe”.

The good news for Justin Welby is that he doesn’t have to worry about the majority of clergy. They support his goal. The bad news is that his opponents are not likely to change their minds. His success depends on finding a solution – something which eluded his predecessor Rowan Williams.

Professor Linda Woodhead comments:
These findings are both good and bad news for the Archbishop – good in that his battle is won with most of the clergy and almost certainly an overwhelming majority of lay Anglicans. Bad, in that there is a significant group of male clergy who do not share his vision for the CofE and the Anglican Communion.

Future of the Church Debate

This Thursday the next in the current series of national debates on the Future of the Church of England delves into this issue, asking what kind of unity is appropriate for the Church and how Archbishop Justin’s goal of unity in diversity can be achieved.

Speakers at this public debate in Oxford include Canon David Porter, the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson, Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream, the Very Revd June Osborne and Rt Revd Dr Trevor Mwamba.

Ends

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Retiring Bishops

Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, announced today that he will retire on 11 July 2015.
From the diocesan website: Bishop Tim announces retirement

Ripon College Cuddesdon announced today that Humphrey Southern, suffragan Bishop of Repton in the Diocese of Derby, has been appointed its principal, with effect from 1 April 2015.
From the college website: Appointment of new Principal

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Priests ordained by women bishops abroad

The Questions yesterday evening at General Synod included this question and answer:

Mrs Christina Rees (St Albans) asked the Secretary General:
Q Is there any longer a bar on a man or woman who, having been ordained to the priesthood by a bishop who is a woman in another province of the Anglican Communion or in another Church with which the Church of England is in communion, being given to permission to officiate under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967, so as to make them then to be as a priest in the Church of England, given a Licence or Permission to Officiate?

Mr William Fittall replied:
A The decision taken by the Synod this afternoon means that it is now lawful for women to be consecrated as bishops in England. The rationale for the bar which the Archbishops have operated up to now under the 1967 Measure has therefore disappeared. The gender of the consecrating bishop will be no longer relevant when applications for permission to officiate are considered.

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Bishops - the morning after

More news and comment on yesterday’s final decision to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England

Giles Fraser The Guardian Hallelujah, the long wait for female bishops is over at last

Telegraph leader Women bishops: a new chapter for the Church of England

Caroline Wyatt BBC Female bishops: Anglicans preparing for first appointment

There was other business at General Synod yesterday:

Official Summary of Monday’s business: General Synod: Monday PM

Press release: Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy

Audio part 1
Audio part 2

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Monday, 17 November 2014

More on the Women Bishops legislation

Early press reports:

Tim Wyatt Church Times From today, women can be bishops in the Church of England

Caroline Wyatt BBC Church of England formally approves plans for women bishops

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England clears way for female bishops

John Bingham and agency The Telegraph Church of England approves historic change in law to allow women bishops

Kashmira Gander The Independent Church of England shatters ‘stained-glass ceiling’ by allowing female bishops

Carey Lodge Christian Today Final approval given to women bishops at General Synod

… and from the Archbishop of Canterbury Women bishops: Archbishop hails “new way of being the church”

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Archbishop Justin's presidential address to the General Synod

Updated Tuesday

From the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.

Archbishop Justin’s presidential address to the General Synod
Monday 17th November 2014

In his presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Read the full text of the address below:

During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward…

The full text is here.

Update

Madeleine Davies reports on the address for the Church Times Anglican Communion ‘flourishing’, and attached to Canterbury, Welby reports

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Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod

York signs

The Archbishop of York signs the Instrument of Enanactment.

Press release from Church House

Legislation on Women Bishops Becomes Law at General Synod
17 November 2014

The General Synod has today enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.

The formal enactment of the legislation - Amending Canon 33 - followed the vote on final approval by the Synod at its meeting in July of this year. Since that time the legislation has been approved in Parliament and received Royal Assent.

The final legislative requirements took place during a session chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, on the first day of the Synod’s meeting in London.

With the Instrument of Enactment having been read to Synod the motion was put without debate, with only a simple majority required for approval. Following the item being passed the legislation was signed into law by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York before the whole Synod.

Following the vote Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said:

“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together. We will also continue to seek the flourishing of the church of those who disagree.”

Notes:

The text of the amending canon and instrument of enactment can be seen here

The following dioceses are currently vacant and are waiting to appoint a diocesan bishop:

Southwell & Nottingham
Gloucester
Oxford
Newcastle
The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich were the last diocese to select a Bishop under the former rules.

The following suffragan (assistant) bishop posts are currently Vacant and are awaiting appointment:

Dunwich
Hertford
Hull
Plymouth
Stockport
Any of the above vacant posts may now be filled by a male or female priest.

After the vote the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that the CNC for Southwell & Nottingham (which has had its first, but not second meeting) had been allowed to consider women.

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Amending Canon No 33

synod.jpg

The General Synod of the Church of England has today, by clear show of hands, passed a motion enacting Amending Canon No 33. The effect of the amendment is to enact that:

A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of Bishop.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 17 November 2014 at 2:53pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Oxford Faith Debates discuss People and Diversity

The Oxford Faith Debates are continuing every fortnight and there are two more to go. Full details of the programme are here.

Debate 3 titled People – how can Anglicans of all kinds be engaged in the Church of the future? included contributions from four panelists and another four “provocateurs” including one of the editors of this website. Recordings of the entire proceedings are available here. (My bit is close to the end at minute 41 of the discussion.)

Lorraine Cavanagh another of the Provocateurs last week has written this article: The Church of England must remain credible as well as viable also available over here.

Both she and I will be returning for Debate 4 this coming Thursday when the subject is Diversity - what kind of unity is appropriate nationally and internationally, how can diversity become a strength?

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Statistics For Mission 2013

The Church of England has published its Statistics For Mission 2013 today, along with the following press release.

New statistics for 2013 show average of one million people attend services each week
10 November 2014

New Church of England statistics for 2013 published today show that an average of one million people attend services each week, down about 1% on the previous year.

The one million figure relates to regular weekly parish and cathedral services and does not include other core services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. With some 2,000 baptisms, 1,000 weddings and 3,000 funerals conducted every week it is estimated that a further half a million people attend a service conducted by a Church of England minister every week. In addition the count (which takes place in October) does not include the many carol and nativity services during Advent and many other regular services responding to community need. The services carried out by the Church of England’s chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools, universities and military bases are also excluded from the attendance totals. Figures for Christmas attendance show a stable trend, with 2.4 million people attending services on Christmas Eve and Day - where figures have hovered around the 2.5 million mark over the past decade.

Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Sheffield, The Rt. Revd. Steven Croft, said:

“These figures show the Church of England continues to serve the nation with a core of 1 million activist members who worship faithfully each week.

“At a time when membership of political parties is at an historic low and in a society which feels increasingly time squeezed, it is conspicuous that the Church of England’s committed weekly base of parish worshippers remains a million strong with the last Census showing many millions more identifying with the Church.

“In addition to the regular worshipping core the Church continues to serve all those who look to us to mark the most important events of their life journey through weddings, baptisms and funerals. Through these services alone we estimate that a further half a million people attend Church every week of the year, many of whom will be only fringe or occasional visitors.”

A new part of the 2013 research reveal that nearly half of the 67,000 new joiners to churches are coming for the first time rather than from another church. This was the first time a split was introduced in the joiners and leavers section to measure those moving to or from other local churches.

There was also new research on attendance at advent services including nativity and carol services - outside of usual Sunday services. Although not every church gave figures, attendance at special services during advent is estimated to be around 5 million.

A change in baptism trends shows that adult baptisms are on the increase over the past decade - from 8,000 per year to 11,000 per year, an increase of 32% over the last 10 years.

The statistics are available at:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2112070/2013statisticsformission.pdf

Earlier statistics are available here.

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Friday, 7 November 2014

suffragan Bishop of Burnley

Updated

It has been announced from 10 Downing Street this morning that the Revd Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley in the diocese of Blackburn:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Philip John North, MA, Team Rector of the Parish of Old Saint Pancras, in the Diocese of London, to the Suffragan See of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn, in succession to the Right Reverend John William Goddard, BA, on his resignation on 31 August 2014.

A press release from Forwad in Faith comments:

Forward in Faith is delighted at the news that Fr Philip North is to be the next Bishop of Burnley, in succession to Bishop John Goddard.

Fr North is well known for his pastoral gifts, his zeal for mission and evangelization, and his commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel, especially amongst the poor.

We are proud to welcome a new episcopal member of Forward in Faith, and we pray for Fr North as he prepares for his move, and for the whole people of God in the Diocese of Blackburn.

Update (Friday afternoon)
Blackburn diocese is now also carrying this news: next Bishop of Burnley to be the Reverend Philip North and quoting the bishop-designate:

“Some of you might be aware that I withdrew from an appointment as Bishop of Whitby. The fact that I have been invited and have agreed to serve as a Bishop again is testimony to the very different mood across the Church of England since the understandable disappointment that followed the failure in 2012 of the legislation to enable women to be bishops.

“The Church has stated afresh its commitment to enabling all traditions to flourish within its life and structures, and I hope that my appointment will be seen as evidence of that pledge.”

And the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, is quoted:

“I want to make it clear that I see Philip’s appointment as a clear sign the Anglican Church in Lancashire is living out these five guiding principles.

“I wanted to have an episcopal colleague who is from the traditionalist catholic constituency and Philip fulfils that role well. He comes to serve the whole Diocese. He will also have particular care for those people who cannot accept the ministry of women as Bishops and Priests in the Church — and he will have my wholehearted support in carrying out this important work.”

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Future composition of the Lords Spiritual

David Pocklington has written for Law & Religion UK about the Future composition of the Lords Spiritual.

The announcement to both Houses of the Royal Assent to the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure completed the parliamentary stages of the legislation and brought to the fore the issue of “fast tracking” women in the episcopate to the Lords Spiritual…

The issues that remain, therefore, are: how this is to be accomplished; and what form this fast-tracking/positive discrimination will take…

He goes on to explain why this will require an Act of Parliament rather than a Church Measure. He then looks at what might replace the present “Buggins’ turn” method of appointing the most senior diocesan bishops and allow women more quickly to join the Lords Spiritual.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Seal of the Confessional

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK wrote this last month: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Today he published this update: Seal of confessional: its future in the CofE. Together these clearly describe the current position.

Do read both articles, but I draw attention to part of what the Archbishop of York said in his statement on the Waddington Enquiry:

… one of those who reported abuse to the Inquiry has since asked me specifically to raise the question of The Confessional. His view is that disclosures made in the context of a formal Confession which give rise to safeguarding concerns should not enjoy absolute confidentiality.

I have every sympathy with this view, and therefore welcome the fact that the Archbishops’ Council has decided to commission theological and legal work with a view to exploring whether the current position in relation to admissions of abuse in the context of a formal Confession should be changed. That work and any recommendations arising from it will need to be discussed with the House of Bishops before any proposals for change are brought before the General Synod.

This matter will undoubtedly be raised during a take-note debate on draft revised Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (GS 1970) at General Synod next month. There is an accompanying paper specifically on the ministry of absolution (GS Misc 1085) which confirms the Archbishop’s statement that the Archbishops’ Council is to commission a review of the seal of the confessional.

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Archbishop's lobby speech

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this speech at the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch in the House of Commons yesterday. He also answered questions. Amongst other topics he spoke about child abuse within the Church of England.

Michael White and Rajeev Syal The Guardian Church of England to examine 1950s records in child abuse investigation

Georgia Graham and John Bingham The Telegraph Justin Welby: I broke down in tears at horror of Church child abuse

He also spoke about immigration.

John Bingham and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury condemns politicians who view immigration as a ‘deep menace’

Nigel Morris The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: There is no immigrant ‘menace’

BBC Immigration needed in UK, Archbishop of Canterbury says

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Online General Synod papers

The papers for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 17 and 18 November are now all online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

GS 1919B - Draft Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 1919Z - Report of the Steering Committee

GS 1921B - Draft Ecclesiastical Property Measure [Monday]
GS 1921Z - Report of the Steering Committee

GS 1926D - Amending Canon No.33 [Monday]

GS 1935A - Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure [Monday]
GS 1935Y - Report of the Revision Committee

GS 1964A - Draft Amending Canon No.35 [Monday]
[see notice paper 2]

GS 1965A and GS 1965B - Diocesan Synod Motion on spare room subsidy [Tuesday]

GS 1966 - Agenda

GS 1967 - Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1968 - Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995 [Monday]
GS 1968x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1969 - Draft Diocesan Stipends Funds (Amendment) Measure [Monday]
GS 1969x - Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1970 - Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy (draft edition) [Monday]

GS 1971 - The Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Council for Christian Unity [Tuesday]

GS 1972A and GS 1972B - Private Member’s Motion on Canon B 38 [contingency business]

Other Papers

GS Misc 1085 - Guidelines for the professional conduct of the clergy (The Ministry of Absolution)

GS Misc 1086 - A background note on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria [Tuesday]

GS Misc 1088 - Representative of Pentecostal Churches of the General Synod

GS Misc 1089 - The Porvoo Declaration - New signatories

GS Misc 1090 - Women in the Episcopate - appointment of Independent Reviewer

GS Misc 1091 - Report on the Archbishops’ Council’s activities

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General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.

Final agenda for General Synod published
24 October 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in November for a two day meeting from 13.45 on Monday 17 November until 17.00 on Tuesday 18 November.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. After the usual introductory material, including the debate on the report by the Business Committee the Synod will be invited to enact Amending Canon No. 33 to allow women to be bishops. This will be followed by a Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Various items of legislative business will follow. Some of these will run into the following day, when a further slot for legislative business has been allocated at 12 noon. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure and the Church of England (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure will both return to the Synod for their Final Drafting and Final Approval Stages. . Amending Canon No. 35 (relating to Canon B 12) and the Naming of Dioceses Measure will both undergo their Revision Stages. A new draft Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis will be introduced for First Consideration. Finally, the Synod will be asked to approve a Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe’s Constitution.

Following the legislative business, there will be a Take Note debate on the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy. This is a draft document prepared by the Convocations of York and Canterbury which updates the existing Guidelines dating from 2003 to take account of new developments in secular and Church legislation and pastoral practice, as well as liturgical developments. Following comment by General Synod, the draft Guidelines will return to the Convocations for further consideration. After a short period of worship, the day will conclude with Synod Questions.

Tuesday 18th November will start with Holy Communion which will lead into a presentation by a panel of speakers moderated by the Bishop of Coventry on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel will include the Rt. Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Great Britain, who is one of our regular Ecumenical representatives on Synod and who is in close touch with churches in Iraq and Syria, Dr.Fuad Nahdi Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way and Founding Editor of the pioneering Q-News and the Revd Dr Rachel Carnegie, the Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance. There will be opportunities for Synod members to pose questions to the panel.

Any remaining legislative business will be taken at 12 noon. After lunch on Tuesday 18th November there will be a presentation followed by a debate on the Anglican Methodist Covenant. The Synod will be invited to endorse the recommendations in the Final Report of the Joint Implementation Commission which calls for both churches to take forward further work on the possibility of reconciling their ministries with a view to interchangeability.

There will be a debate on a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Bradford (now part of the Diocese of Leeds) regarding the Spare Room Subsidy. The motion reflects concern from the Diocese at the impact of the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the “Bedroom Tax”.

Contingency business takes the form of a Private Member’s Motion by the Revd Canon Dr Michael Parsons (Gloucester) on Canon B38 (‘Of the burial of the dead’). The motion calls for the introduction of legislation so that the law would no longer make any distinction in the form of funeral service to be used when someone has taken their own life.

Notes:

Synod papers, including the full agenda, can be found here.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Royal Assent for Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014

From today’s Hansard:

House of Commons

Royal assent
Mr Speaker:

I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Measure:

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014.

House of Lords

Royal Assent
11.18 am

The following Measure was given Royal Assent:

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Waddington Inquiry

Updated Wednesday evening, Thursday morning

The report of the Independent Inquiry, commissioned by the Archbishop of York and chaired by Judge Sally Cahill, into the Church of England’s handling of reports of alleged sexual abuse by the late Robert Waddington, formerly Dean of Manchester, was published today.

Press Association report in The Guardian Archbishop of York ‘deeply ashamed’ by church’s handling of abuse allegations

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Abusive priest ‘avoided prosecution because of failure to act on allegations’

Caroline Wyatt BBC Archbishop of York ‘wholehearted’ apology to abuse victims

Statement from the Archbishop of York

Statement from the Bishop of Manchester

Statement from Lord Hope of Thornes

At the request of some of those interviewed by the inquiry the report will not be made available in an electronic format but in hard copy only. Copies are available from Church House Bookshop.

Updates

Caroline Davies The Guardian Archbishop of York ashamed over Church of England’s abuse case failures

Madeleine Davies Church Times York Inquiry finds ‘systematic failure’ over abuse

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

Updated Monday morning and afternoon
Updated Thursday

The Measure completed is progress through Parliament today when the House of Commons agreed that it should be sent for Royal Assent.

The Hansard report of the debate is here.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has this summary of the debate, Commons debate women in the episcopate, which also includes “Next Steps”. [There is a correction to this, published on Thursday.]

General Synod members were this morning sent this note from the Secretary General.

I am pleased to report that the House of Commons approved the Measure to enable women to become bishops yesterday evening. Following the successful outcome in the House of Lords last Tuesday the way is now clear for Royal Assent, which is expected this Thursday.

The royal licence for the canon will be needed before the canon can be enacted by the Synod on 17 November. But there is every reason to believe that that will be forthcoming and we shall be therefore be putting the papers for the November Synod in the post this Thursday. They will be on-line at 2pm on Friday when the usual pre-Synod press conference is held at Church House. The way is now clear for members to proceed with train and hotel bookings for November.

William Fittall

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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

Updated Wednesday

The House of Lords today passed the motion to approve the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops approved by House of Lords

BBC Women bishops change approved in the House of Lords

Women bishops: Archbishop’s speech in House of Lords debate

As John Bingham also notes:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, also disclosed during the debate that all the main Westminster political parties had signalled their support for a plan to fast-track the first women bishops into the Lords.

The debate in the House of Commons has now been scheduled for Monday of next week. Subject to a favourable vote in the Commons (which everybody expects) the measure will then only require the formality of the Royal Assent to come into effect.

Update
The verbatim Hansard report of the Lords’ debate is now available here.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this summary of the debate.

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Bishop of Gloucester

The investigation into allegations against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, has been dropped.

BBC News reports that The Bishop of Gloucester is to face no further action by police over two allegations of indecent assault.

The Gloucestershire Citizen also carries the story here with slightly more detail:

A statement from Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, Lead Bishop on Safeguarding for the Church of England said: “We can confirm that we have been notified by the Metropolitan Police that following enquiries they are to take no further action regarding the allegations made against the Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester.

“We would ask for continuing prayers for all of those affected by these events and those involved in ongoing processes.“

Bishop Michael said: “It was right that the allegations should be fully investigated and I am gratified that the police have completed the investigation and concluded that there are no grounds for further action to be taken

“My family and I are profoundly grateful for all the support and affirmation we have received through this very difficult time.”

Bishop Michael will not yet return to his post until due church processes have been concluded.

However he hopes the process will conclude in time for him to return to his post before he is due to retire as planned in November.

We earlier reported the news that Bishop Michael was ‘stepping back’ from his role in the diocese of Gloucester, pending his retirement in November.

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Parishes: What Future for the Parochial System?

The first of the Oxford Faith Debates took place last week.

Audio recordings of the whole proceedings are now available from this page.

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"To Have and To Hold": conference papers

Updated Thursday

Many of the papers delivered at the To Have and To Hold conference are now available from the LGBTI Anglican Coalition website.

Follow links from here.

Update
Copies of these papers are now also available on the Inclusive Church website, at this page where they may be slightly easier to access.

Among them, the Digest of Methuen and Thatcher talks may be particularly useful for promoting local discussion groups on this topic.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ecclesiastical Committee Report on Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

The Ecclesiastical Committee’s report on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure is now available online.

The Measure has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it can receive the Royal Assent and come into effect. The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead a House of Lords debate to approve the measure next Tuesday (14 October). The debate in the House of Commons has not yet been scheduled.

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Archbishop of York challenged at Southwell Minster

The BBC reports: Jeremy Pemberton gay marriage case: Archbishop of York challenged

The Archbishop of York has been challenged over “discrimination” against a gay clergyman who married his same-sex partner.

Jeremy Pemberton can no longer work as a priest in Nottinghamshire and has been blocked from taking a job as a hospital chaplain in the county.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell challenged the archbishop over the case as he arrived at Southwell Minster.

However, Dr John Sentamu said he could not comment due to legal reasons.

Local newspapers carried the story too:

The Peter Tatchell Foundation reported it this way: Archbishop of York beset by gay protesters.

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Reform withdraws from sexuality conversations

Updated Friday morning

Reform, the organisation of Conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England, has issued a press release, available here, and copied in full below the fold. It begins like this (emphasis added by TA in italics)

Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014

At it’s [sic] most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.

Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’

Andrew Brown discusses this announcement in this article: Church of England’s gay marriage split is as entrenched as ever

Hopes that the Church of England might be able to discuss its deep differences over gay people looked sillier yesterday after the conservative evangelical group Reform pulled out of conversations. It was upset over the failure to “admonish” a prominent liberal, while gay protestors led by Peter Tatchell heckled the archbishop of York over his backing for sanctions against a gay priest who has married his partner.

Reform’s press release dropped in first. The group is upset by three things. The headline is that it wants the bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, to stop calling conservative evangelicals (that would be Reform) “homophobic”, and to renounce his public support for gay marriage. Then it wants a crackdown on those priests who have married their partners. This is extremely difficult legally, as Wilson points out in public and the house of bishops has been told in private…

… But the real sticking point for Reform was the hope expressed by the bishops at their most recent meeting, “for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another.” They are Calvinists. They don’t want to live together with people who disagree with them – to be “yoked with unbelievers”, as St Paul put it. You can laugh at their demand not to be called “homophobic”, although it would be a small thing to grant them.

You can laugh, too, at the gloriously unrealistic demand that the church spend millions in legal battles with the equality law.

What is non-negotiable, though, is the group’s demand that the church deal with disagreement on this matter by expelling its opponents. It’s certainly a popular demand – on both sides. But it is the one thing against which the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has set his face. What he wants is “good disagreement”. For Reform – and, to be fair, for its opponents – what’s good about disagreement is the moment when the enemy crumbles…

Update The Church of England issued this media statement yesterday:

Statement on Shared Conversations on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission
09 October 2014
In a media statement dated October 6 2014 the council of Reform “expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed” at the recent meeting of the College of Bishops. In support of this claim the Council referred to the media statement released after the meeting claiming that the media report introduced a “new objective”.

The objectives of the Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission were set out in June 2014 by the Bishop of Sheffield in GS Misc 1083. These objectives remain unchanged. No new objective has been added.

The media statement did not report on the contents of the discussions held at the meeting of the College as those conversations were confidential to the groups. It was no more than a general report of the proceedings and should not be over-interpreted.

The media statement issued after the College of Bishops meeting was accompanied by a podcast which also explored the shared conversations. Neither the podcast nor the statement was intended to nor should be taken to replace, add to, subtract from, substitute or alter the process as set out in the Bishop of Sheffield’s paper. That document (GS Misc 1083) remains the authoritative statement of the objectives as set by the House of Bishops.

The above points have been communicated to Reform.

Media Statement Oct 6, 2014: Reform calls for ‘decisive intervention’ to save shared conversations on sexuality from collapse
Posted on 8 October 2014

REFORM CALLS FOR ‘DECISIVE INTERVENTION’ TO SAVE SHARED CONVERSATIONS ON SEXUALITY FROM COLLAPSE

At it’s most recent meeting on Wednesday, 1st October 2014, the Reform Council expressed its dismay that the objectives of the ‘shared conversations’ on Scripture, Sexuality and Mission had been changed and that as a result orthodox Anglicans had been in effect excluded. It called on its members not to participate in the conversations under these conditions.

Speaking after the Council meeting, the chairman, Prebendary Rod Thomas, said ‘It is difficult to see how the process of shared conversations can command credibility if those who are most committed to the Church of England’s official teaching are in effect excluded. If this project is not to collapse, then decisive intervention from the House of Bishops is needed now. The shared conversations must acknowledge that Scripture remains authoritative for the Church of England and that the outcome of the conversations is genuinely open-ended. Unless that is clarified and the recently announced new objective is withdrawn, we cannot see a way forward.’

The Council’s assessment was made after members heard that the original objectives of the conversations, as reported last July to the General Synod, had been severely narrowed. This emerged after the meeting of the College of Bishops in mid September, which described the second objective as creating ‘space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another…[to] ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith”.

This new objective requires participants:

To reject the current Church of England understanding that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage “should be met with a call for repentance and the exercise of compassion”
To accept the premise of the Pilling Report that the Bible isn’t clear on matters of sexuality - when, as the Bishop of Birkenhead’s Dissenting Statement argued, there is no sound reason for thinking it is unclear
To accept an outcome in which the Church moves from its present, biblical, understanding of marriage to one where we accommodate two separate beliefs, with one part of the Church calling for repentance over sexual sin and another declaring God’s blessing. This is tantamount to asking us to accept a redefinition of what will and will not lead to salvation - as though there could be two gospels, equally valid.
In advising its members not to get drawn into what was now a ‘deeply flawed’ process, The Council also warned about the steady erosion of the Church’s commitment to biblical authority - particularly in the field of sexuality. It noted:

The lack of a consistent and clear response to those clergy who have entered into same-sex marriages, thereby pre-empting the results of the shared conversations as pressure grows to accommodate ‘facts on the ground’;
The continued failure to admonish the Bishop of Buckingham, despite his refusal to uphold the teaching of the church and guidance of the House on matters of sexuality, whilst also allowing him, without criticism, repeatedly to describe Conservative Evangelicals as homophobic, including those who themselves experience same-sex attraction but seek to live celibate, God-honouring lives.
Ends

Note to editors:

Reform is a network of individuals and churches promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ by reforming the Church of England - www.reform.org.uk. It is one of the three bodies that sponsor ReNew.

College of Bishops Statement can be found here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2014/09/college-of-bishops-meeting.aspx

For further information please contact the Director, Susie Leafe on 07753690120 or by email director@reform.org.uk

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More Perfect Union: other reviews and book launch

Two reviews that have now appeared of the book More Perfect Union:

Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum Review of “More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage” by Bishop Alan Wilson

As the Church of England begins two years of Shared Conversations focussed on sexuality, probably the most vocal episcopal critic of current teaching and practice, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has set out his case for change in More Perfect Union?: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage (DLT). For those still unclear about the substance and tone of Anglican arguments for same-sex marriage this is a short, readable guide. Although helpful in giving a sense of much revisionist rhetoric and argument it suffers the fatal flaw he levels against his opponents (40) – preaching to the choir and cutting almost no ice with anyone else…

Ian Paul on Psephizo More Perfect Union?

I’ve had quite a few interactions with Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, mostly on line and (once) in person. On some occasions he has been reasonable, thoughtful and well-informed; on others, belligerent and polemical. So when I received this book for review, I was intrigued to know which way it would go. Unfortunately, it is the latter.

Reading the first couple of chapters was a very odd experience, and I could not work out why—until I realised I had entered a parallel universe—Wilson’s World, if you will. In this World, all sorts of odd things happen…

Update book launch event cancelled
Those who want to read the book for themselves may be interested in this event at Church House Bookshop: Book Launch: More Perfect Union?

And Alan Wilson wrote this piece for Comment is free earlier in the week: Any ‘biblical’ objection to gay marriage is nonsense. The C of E must admit this.

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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Book Review: More Perfect Union

The Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen has written a review of Bishop Alan Wilson’s book More Perfect Union. Dr Methuen is Senior Lecturer in Church History and Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Alan Wilson, More Perfect Union (London: DLT 2014). Pp. xx + 172. £9.99 (paperback).

In this short book, Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, presents the case for extending marriage to include same-sex couples. Written in the heat of the debate about the Church of England’s response to the legal introduction of marriage for same-sex couples in England in 2014, Wilson’s book brings together a host of arguments and data which should prove thought-provoking even to those who disagree with his conclusions.

Wilson opens with an autobiographical note: selected to be Bishop of Buckingham in 2003, his consecration service was originally to be shared with Jeffrey John, who had been appointed Bishop of Reading. Wilson recounts his sense of bemusement as John, a gay man living in a celibate partnership, was pressured to withdraw from the appointment. Over the years that followed, Wilson became more uncomfortable with the inconsistent position being taken by the Church of England. He began to recognise that what God wants for gay people “is no more than he wanted for all people – flourishing faith, hope and love, lived out individually and in community” (p. xvi). For Wilson “allowing gay people to marry became … an issue of justice and equality.” Consequently, he affirms, “rejoicing with gay people who marry … no longer seemed to me a concession to secular modernity, but sharing the good news of the kingdom” (p. xvii). That around 80% of the messages he received as he began to explore these issues were supportive, suggests, Wilson remarks that, “the vast majority of people seemed to be travelling along a road like mine, including a sizeable number of Evangelical Christians” (p. xvii). This book is in many ways the account of that journey.

In Chapter 1, “Gay and straight in Church and State”, Wilson traces the legal status of gay people in the last 50 years, and the way that the Church of England has and (mostly) has not responded to the increasingly widespread recognition of same-sex relationships. These developments have taken place in wider context of rapid changes to patterns of relationships: in the early twenty-first century, people are marrying later than was the custom in previous generations, and they do so “to seal and not to form permanent relationships” (p. 15). That is (although Wilson does not make this point explicitly), the vast majority of couples who marry are already living together, and many have children. Marriage has come to be seen as the affirmation of a relationship, rather than marking a beginning.

Wilson next turns to the question “Unnatural?” Considering the accusation that same-sex relationships are unnatural, Wilson observes that concepts of the natural have changed radically over the centuries. Paul, for instance, “disapproved of ‘unnatural’ practices like men growing their hair, or women cutting it (1 Corinthians 11:14–15)”; in the twentieth century, women were long prevented from running the marathon on the grounds that “their bodies were not made for such exertions” (pp. 20-21). Moreover, modern biology has revealed unexpected complexities in the definition of gender and sexual difference; the definition of sexual orientation is even more complicated. For Wilson, the important recognition is that all people have (as the 1928 wedding liturgy puts it), “natural instincts and affections implanted by God [which] need to be hallowed and directed aright.” Relationships, he suggests, “are judged better by their fruit than by their configuration” (p. 34).

“Equality or bust,” chapter 3, considers the question of the definition of marriage. Is it really the case that extending marriage to include same-sex couples would represent a profound – and indeed impossible – redefinition of the fundamental meaning of marriage? Wilson argues that in reality, marriage “has been radically and continuously redefined down the ages by the lived experience of married people” (p. 40). Moreover, this category, he suggests, has in the past included same-sex couples. Consequently, “portentous assertions that monogamy between a man and a woman has been the anthropological gold standard from the dawn of time are simply false” (p. 40). Wilson argues also that equality of treatment is fundamental to the biblical message: “St Paul tells the Romans… that ‘God shows no partiality’” (p. 51).

Wilson turns next to the biblical witness. In “Scripture 101” he considers how to read the biblical text, pointing out that the Bible was long used to defend practices which are now seen as wrong, such as slavery or the use of corporal punishment for children. Addressing “Things gays are liable to read in the Bible,” he considers the six biblical passages which might be held to speak to homosexuality (these, as he remarks, comprise 0.002% of the verses of the Bible, compared to around 10% of Bible verses which refer to matters of economic justice – p. 62). These verses, Wilson concludes, do not address homosexuality in the modern understanding of the word, but are concerned with men who take on the role of women in that they allow themselves to be penetrated during a sexual encounter. The single text which may refer to same-sex relations between women, Romans 1:26-27, could (although Wilson does not say so) equally be interpreted to imply that women were sleeping with men in ways deemed unnatural. Wilson does remark on the “complete absence in the New Testament of any of the extensive standard assortment of Greek words that would have been used naturally to describe the enormous amount of same-sex activity that went on in ancient cities” (p. 80). He concludes: “The discipline that enable Christians to hear the word of God according to the love of God is .. obedience to the New Testament injunction to discern the spirits and make love our aim” (p. 81).

Considering “Biblical marriage”, Wilson points out that the Hebrew Scriptures contain “at least seven different definitions of marriage” (p. 84), most of which see marriage as a property transaction between two men, with a woman as the property. In the New Testament, “Jesus teaches that marriage is a provisional institution with roots in creation. … It is a way of arranging other matters of this age, like property, inheritance and dynastic legitimacy, all of them less important than the kingdom” (p. 89). It is emphatically not for all, and celibacy is clearly a favoured option. In the Pauline epistles, subordination of the wife is accepted as the norm, although men are urged to love their wives, and Paul certainly sees marriage as a mutual relationship. Marriage in the New Testament comes also to function as a metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church, just as in the Old Testament the relationship between God and Israel had been described in terms either of marriage or of harlotry. Here, none of the realities often cited as fundamental to marriage – gender difference, the ability to conceive children, or a particular understanding of sexual intercourse – can be held to apply.

In chapter 7, Wilson addresses “The irresistible rise of Christian marriage”, which he sees as involving four phases: marriage as a “pre-endtime encumbrance” (33-100 CE), as a “secular institution” (100-1200), as an “indissoluble sacrament” (since 1300 and still an ideal, although now “largely an empty shell”), and as a “partnership of equals” (since 1650 and increasingly seen as the ideal). Chapter 8, “Geopolitics and mission”, counters the argument that the persecution of Christians elsewhere should mitigate against arguments for equality in the North and West: “We know … that the Nigerian terrorist movement Boko Haram disapproves intensely of young women being educated… Would closing down [educational opportunities for women in the West] really moderate Boko Haram’s behaviour?” (p. 133). Wilson here also considers the meaning of unity for the Church, concluding that “Honest disagreement that takes everyone as seriously as everyone else can transcend any particular culture and offer hope to a world in sore and increasing need of reconciliation and healing” (p. 146).

In a final chapter, “The law of the land, and that’s great”, Wilson discusses possible ways forward for the Church of England in the face of the introduction of same sex marriage. Wilson sees this move as an opportunity for the Church: “Marriages that are good news reflect equality in diversity and a genuine reciprocity, their own personal and distinctive complementarity, that is bigger than the imposition of crude gender stereotypes, Such marriages offer a special opportunity for those within them to reflect the vales of the kingdom of God in which all are equal” (pp. 163-4).

This is an important book. Wilson admits from the outset that it “is not, in any sense, an academic tome” (p. xvi). There is a wealth of evidence here, some of which would have benefitted from brief references or indication of further reading. Wilson is keen to emphasise the shifting meaning of words, but takes 1 Tim 5’s “widows” in a modern sense, as women whose husbands have died, neglecting the meaning of women who choose to live without men; this flattens the meaning of that text and in my view warps his interpretation. I would have like more reflection on developments between the Pauline letters and the (almost certainly pseudepigraphical) Pastoral epistles, which seem to represent a rather different understanding of the role of women than that offered by Paul. The style suggests that this is a book written in haste, and it certainly speaks to the moment. But that is necessary, and right: and it is much to be applauded that a bishop of the Church of England has chosen to speak out on the question of equal marriage.

Charlotte Methuen

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Understanding Same-sex Marriage

DLT Books has issued a press release announcing the publication of More Perfect Union: Understanding Same-sex Marriage by Alan Wilson. The text of this is reproduced below the fold.

John Bingham wrote about this book in the Telegraph under the headline One in 10 Church of England bishops ‘could be secretly gay’ – says bishop.

Alan Wilson has written on his blog about some recent reactions to his book, and about the recent College of Bishops meeting for “shared conversations”: Ins and Outs and Same-Sex Marriage.

** PRESS RELEASE FROM DLT BOOKS **

‘Alan Wilson is the only bishop in the Church of England who speaks for the full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the Church. In this powerful statement, he sets out the scientific, theological and Biblical reasons which have led him to believe that this is the truly Christian option.’ - Linda Woodhead MBE

‘An extraordinarily valuable contribution to the quest for an open and honest conversation around an issue that the Church can no longer sweep under the ecclesiastical carpet.’ – Steve Chalke

‘The joy of this book is a bishop telling the truth, not least about the way the gay issue has been handled in recent history, and the awful dishonesties in which we are now entrammelled as a result.’ – Jeffrey John


In a recent interview with Pink News Archbishop Justin Welby acknowledged that the Church of England had to accept same-sex marriage is now law in England and Wales, but Welby himself voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Act in the House of Lords in 2013. Indeed, even after having been passed into law on 29 March 2014, when the balloon went up and Messrs. Peter McGraith and David Cabreza made Britain’s first same-sex marriage at Islington Town Hall, many leaders of the Church of England remain strongly opposed. So much so that Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who married his long-term partner in April, was told to stop leading services and then barred from a post as an NHS chaplain.

In this important and timely book Alan Wilson argues that allowing gay people to marry is a moral purpose. Indeed, there is a burgeoning movement within the Church broadly in favour of same-sex marriage, not to mention leaders of the Church already in gay partnerships, who wish for their religion to fully ratify and acknowledge their relationships.

Wilson says: ‘I asked myself “what does God want for gay people?”. After re-revisiting the Bible, and more importantly getting to know gay people of all types and varying backgrounds, he decided the answer was that God wants for them the same as everyone else – flourishing faith, hope and love, involvement and inclusion.

Meanwhile, from a scientific perspective, More Perfect Union? asserts that homosexuality is part of a wide range of human sexual longing and expression, not an anomaly, a sickness, nor merely a lifestyle choice.

The vast majority of people Wilson encountered on his journey toward being in favour of same-sex marriage were not anti-gay, were ‘just trying to love their neighbour as themselves’, even if, in some cases, their heads lagged behind their hearts on the issue of gay marriage.

The ultimate aim of this book is to help Christians unite head and heart in a fully positive response to gay people marrying, and to enable them to wholeheartedly rejoice in such union, in doing so shaking off the hangover of years of stereotyping, fear and discrimination about gay people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alan Wilson became Bishop of Buckingham in 2003 after more than 20 years as an urban and suburban parish priest, and some prison ministry, and has a doctorate in Church History. He has been married for over 30 years, and has 5 children.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Andrew Watson to be next Bishop of Guildford

Updated Monday

From the Number 10 website

Diocese of Guildford: nomination of Andrew Watson

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 September 2014
Part of: Community and society

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew Watson for election as Bishop of Guildford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Andrew John Watson MA, Bishop of Aston, for election as Bishop of Guildford in succession to the Right Reverend Christopher John Hill BD AKC MTh, whose resignation took effect on 30 November 2013.

Biographical notes

Andrew Watson is 53 and studied law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was also a music exhibitioner, regularly playing his bassoon in various orchestras and chamber groups.

Following 2 years as a caretaker and youth worker in Islington, he trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, where he met his future wife Beverly (who has since been ordained herself).

He served his title at St Peter’s, Ipsley, in Worcester diocese from 1987 to 1991, leading a church on the council estate where they lived, and served a second curacy at St John and St Peter, Notting Hill, in London diocese from 1991 to 1996, restoring the Grade 2* listed church of St Peter (which features prominently in the movie Notting Hill), and developing a community café, nursery school and prison visiting team.

From 1996 to 2008 he was Vicar of St Stephen’s, East Twickenham, in London diocese, where he planted 3 further churches and led teams to Norway and Sweden, Donetsk and the slums of Delhi.

He was a member of the General Synod from 2000 to 2008 and Area Dean of Hampton from 2003 to 2008.

In October 2008, he was consecrated Bishop in St Paul’s Cathedral. Since then he has served as the Suffragan Bishop of Aston in the diocese of Birmingham, overseeing the programme ‘Transforming Church’.

Andrew and Beverly have 2 girls and 2 boys, Hannah (24), Sam (22), Joe (19) and Lydia (15). He is the author of The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus (Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) 2008), Confidence in the Living God (BRF 2009) and The Way of the Desert (BRF 2011). He remains a keen musician and a China enthusiast, and enjoys reading, cooking, photography and walking stretches of the South West Coast Path.

From the Birmingham diocesan website: Bishop David is delighted that Bishop Andrew Watson is to be the new Bishop of Guildford

Update

From the Guildford diocesan website: New Bishop of Guildford announced

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 September 2014 at 10:06am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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A scientific critique of the Pilling report

The following article appeared in the Church Times issue dated 19 September 2014. It is reproduced here with the permission of the Church Times.

Unanswered questions on Pilling report

There are problems about its use of science and other evidence, says Chris Cook

At the College of Bishops’ residential meeting this week, the Pilling report was scheduled for further discussion (News, 12 September). The report is the work of the House of Bishops Working Group on sexuality, and was published last November.

In January, the College of Bishops published a statement acknowledging the “strongly held and divergent” views reflected in the report, and accepting its recommendation for “facilitated conversations” to continue the process of listening, reflection, and discussion. There are, however, several important questions that need to be addressed about the report, particularly on its approach to the evidence and use of science.

The report has been criticised from both sides of the debate, but the process of facilitated conversation requires that we all, with the Bishops, give it careful attention. It raises questions not only about how we interpret scripture, but also about how we interpret our knowledge of sexuality. The often unexamined assumptions about the relationship between science and theology which are embedded in these interpretative processes influence both the way in which we go about the debate, and the conclusions that we reach.

The working group that produced the Pilling report was asked to “draw together and reflect upon biblical, historical, and ecumenical explorations on human sexuality”, as well as other material arising from the listening process after the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

This task need not necessarily have involved attention to scientific explorations, and the group does not appear to have had a scientific adviser. It is commendable, therefore, that the group recognised the importance of the scientific evidence, and devoted a whole chapter of its report to it.

Reflecting on the scientific evidence, the group concludes that “neither the medical nor the social sciences have arrived at any firm consensus that would impact decisively on the moral arguments.” It further notes that it is in the nature of science to test hypotheses against evidence, and that the theses that emerge can always be challenged by new evidence.

Similarly, “the teaching of the Church, like a thesis in scientific enquiry, stands until the evidence contradicting it is sufficient to change it.” Such transformative evidence is not solely scientific, but it is clear that the group understood that, in part, it may be scientific. Unfortunately, it found that the evidence was “not unequivocal”, and that scientists “find their scientific knowledge supporting different conclusions”.

The reader may conclude that the scientific evidence did not help much. When it comes to reflecting on the traditional Anglican recourse to scripture, tradition, and reason, science — as a strand of reason — seems to contribute little or nothing to the conclusions reached in the report, other than to reinforce the sense of irreconcilable disagreement.

Perhaps, then, it is time to put aside the science, and return to the more important biblical and theological debate. This, I think, would be a deeply mistaken conclusion, and, clearly, the working group does, too; for it recommends that the Church should continue to pay attention to the “as yet inconclusive scientific work on same-sex attraction”.

“Same-sex attraction” is not a phrase that appears in scripture, and the working group — wisely, in my view — identifies the importance of the “Is this really that?” question as a key determinant of the different ways in which we interpret scripture on matters such as this. So when we discuss this (homosexuality or any other matter), we must ask whether or not it is the same as the that to which the biblical text refers.

If, however, this question is to be followed through faithfully, it requires that careful biblical exegesis be accompanied by an equally careful analysis of the scientific evidence. Both scripture and scientific evidence have to be interpreted, and each plays a part in the interpretation of the other, whatever privilege we may feel that we need to give one or the other.

But the interpretation of science, the “Is this …?” part of the question, is not the same as the interpretation of scripture, the “… really that?” part.

The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, a member of the working group, found himself unable to sign the Pilling report. A dissenting statement and an appendix concerning scripture and same-sex relationships, both written by him, are, however, published with the report.

In the latter, he expresses concern that there has been a revisionist re-reading of scripture. Presumably, he is concerned that non-traditional interpretations of scripture have been adopted (by some) without due regard to a weight of biblical scholarship that continues to affirm the “traditional” biblical teaching on homosexuality.

Yet I do not believe that this is the primary problem. There has been a revisionist “reading” of our experience of human sexuality, and this, at least in part, has come about because of the way in which we now read scientifically.

First, our scientific concept of homosexuality is a modern one, acknowledging diversity within the range of normal sexual orientation; and, as such, was completely unknown to the Early Church.

Second, this scientific concept of homosexuality is no longer considered pathological, and mainstream scientific and clinical thinking concerning its origin and implications has changed out of all recognition; expectations for good professional practice now reflect this.

Third, as outlined in the report Some Issues in Human Sexuality (2003), there have been significant changes of understanding in Church and society more widely relating to various aspects of sexuality, including divorce and contraception, as well as homosexuality. As a result, we now interpret the metaphorical “text” of sexuality very differently from the ways we did 50 or 100 years ago.

Radical changes such as these have led to what Bishop Sinclair refers to as “revisionist” readings of scripture; but it is misleading and unhelpful to refer to re-readings in this way. There is no traditional reading of scripture on homosexuality to be revised, given that the modern scientific concept of homosexuality was unknown until the 19th century.

Notwithstanding the view of the whole working group that the scientific evidence is uncertain, many Christian professionals, as well as gay and lesbian Christians, experience significant unease at the way in which traditional readings of the Bible on homosexual behaviour have become associated with prejudice towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Traditional readings of scripture that now appear to promote such prejudice have therefore given way to new readings that seek to show that scripture is still authoritative and redemptive.

One problem, then, is that we are confused about whether we are talking primarily about the interpretation of scripture, or the interpretation of human experience, and that these two hermeneutic processes are inextricably linked with one another, at least - but not only - for Christians in the Western world.

A second problem that I encounter as a practical theologian, and as a scientist reading this report, is that I do not see the critical rigour in evaluating scientific evidence which I should expect to find here. This is evident in numerous ways, but a single example may suffice to illustrate the nature of the problem.

The submission from the Royal College of Psychiatrists is quoted in support of a now widely accepted clinical and scientific view, based on peer-reviewed publications, that homosexual orientation is compatible with normal mental health. It is the experience of stigma and discrimination in society that contributes to the greater-than-expected mental-health problems experienced by some gay and lesbian people.

The report, however, immediately counterbalances this viewpoint with an opposing one, taken from a booklet published by a Christian organisation committed to a particular theological view in relation to matters of sexuality, Core Issues Trust.

Thus, it is alleged, the view of the Royal College is “neither proven nor ruled out by the evidence”, and an alternative possibility, that homosexual orientation “cuts against a fundamental gender-based given of the human condition, thus causing distress”, is equally neither proved nor ruled out.

Having consulted the peer-reviewed primary-research papers on which the opposing viewpoints are based, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Core Issues Trust has simply marshalled scientific evidence in support of a position that has previously been determined by a particular interpretation of scripture. Thus, the point of view that it promotes is not so much based on scientific evidence as it is an apologetic for a theological tradition.

It is impossible, however, to reach this conclusion (or the alternative possible conclusion that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has misinterpreted the scientific evidence in support of another agenda), without consulting the primary-research publications oneself. Unfortunately, in its report, the working group shows little evidence of having done this.

A third and more fundamental problem is that science and theology are both concerned with asking and answering questions. The six questions chosen for attention in the section of the report which deals with scientific evidence are themselves significant.

The first question, dealing with sexual dimorphism, evokes an answer concerned largely with intersex syndromes and transsexualism, both of which are more or less beside the point so far as homosexuality is concerned. And yet none of the questions deals with the important issue why homosexuality is no longer classified as a psychiatric disorder.

There is a question about the causes of homosexuality, and much is made about what we do not know by way of answer, but there is no question asking whether homosexuality is something that people choose, or whether it is something more essential to personal identity, something that is discovered about oneself rather than chosen.

It is not clear how the scientific questions addressed in the report were identified, but the choice of questions would seem to have been significant in determining the conclusions reached. Some questions that were not asked are inherently both scientific and theological, notably the all-important “What is natural?” Failure to ask these difficult questions has let us all off the hook in relation to the thorny problem of how we engage scientific with theological reasoning in our understanding of sexuality.

This, in turn, has made it difficult to develop a coherent Christian view of sexuality which has both scientific and theological integrity.

A fourth and final problem that has not been addressed is that scientific terminology is precise, and open to examination — even when contested — in a way that ancient Hebrew and Greek terminology (for example, words such as “arsenokoitēs”) is not.

Homosexuality is a modern term; St Paul never talks about “homosexuality”, but only about homosexual acts and desires (and using language that is different from ours).

Scientific discourse on homosexuality requires that we distinguish carefully between sexual orientation, sexual identity (which has anatomical, genetic, psychological, and social dimensions), sexual attraction, and sexual behaviour. This care is sometimes lacking in the report.

Thus, questions are formed using words that are not quite right for the purpose (for example: “Is sexual attraction fixed and immutable?” when it is actually sexual orientation that appears to be under discussion). Sexual identity is discussed only in the section on homophobia, and none of these terms seems to be adequately defined anywhere in the report.

Had the scientific questions been chosen differently, and had the evidence been evaluated more critically in searching for the answers to them, I believe that the theological implications might have been different, or at least more helpful.

We interpret scripture, scientific evidence, and our experience of our sexuality according to complex and often hidden assumptions, which do not always lead us to sound conclusions. Where we start, whether with scripture or science, is probably less important than having the wisdom to formulate the right questions, the courage to ask them, and a constructively critical, rigorous, but also compassionate spirit with which to pursue the answers.

As we approach the process of facilitated conversation which the Pilling report has recommended, and which the Bishops have endorsed, I hope that more critical attention will be given to the scientific evidence. It has the potential to help us to address new questions to scripture, which, in turn, may help us to find that scripture is authoritative and salvific in ways that we had not previously expected.

In response, scripture presents us with important theological and prophetic questions about patterns of stigma and prejudice, which science has identified as underlying (and consequential upon) much mental ill-health.

Dr Chris Cook is Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Durham University.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

General Synod - projected timetable for November 2014

The projected timetable (see below) for the November 2014 Group of Sessions of General Synod has been published here. It is accompanied by this note:

The holding of the group of sessions remains contingent on the legislation to enable Women to become Bishops having completed all its remaining stages. It was found expedient by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament on 22 July and will debated in the House of Lords on 14 October. We await a date for the Commons debate. A further update will be published as soon as possible and in any event before the end of October.

Monday 17 November
1.45 pm – 7.15 pm

1.45 pm Worship
Formal business
Report by the Business Committee

Legislative Business:
Enactment of Amending Canon No 33 (relating to Women in the Episcopate)

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business:
* Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Measure allowing diocesan stipends funds to invest on a ‘total return’ basis – First Consideration
* C of E (Ecclesiastical Property) Measure – Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Amending Canon No 35 (relating to Canon B 12) – Revision Stage and Final Drafting/Final Approval
* Draft Scheme amending the Diocese in Europe Constitution
* C of E (Naming of Dioceses) Measure – Revision Stage

4.40 pm ‘Take Note’ debate on the Professional Guidelines for the Clergy

5.40 pm Worship

Questions

Tuesday 18 November
9.15 am – 1.00 pm

Holy Communion in the Assembly Hall

10.30 am Presentation followed by Debate on Violence against Religious Minorities in Iraq and Syria

12.15 pm Legislative Business (Continued from Monday 17 November)

2.15 pm – 5.00 pm

2.15 pm Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report from the Joint Implementation Commission

Bradford Diocesan Synod Motion on the Spare Room Subsidy

4.40 pm Farewells

Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Priavte Member’s Motion on Canon B 38

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 September 2014 at 9:08am BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New Bishop of Gloucester 'likely to be a woman'

The BBC has reported that the Archdeacon of Cheltenham has said that New Bishop of Gloucester ‘likely to be a woman’.

The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be in the Gloucester diocese, a senior clergyman has said.

The archdeacon of Cheltenham’s comments came during an open meeting where some 70 people shared their views on what qualities the new bishop should have.

The Venerable Robert Springett said he felt the likelihood was “really pretty high” as the diocese could now pick the best person regardless of gender.

Cheltenham is one of the two archdeaconries in the Diocese of Gloucester.

Gloucester will be the first diocese to hold both of its Crown Nominations Commission meetings after the expected coming into effect in November of all the legislation allowing women to be bishops in the Church of England. The meetings are scheduled for 8 January and 19/20 February 2015.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 at 5:31pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Is the seal of the confessional under threat?

Law & Religion UK has a detailed discussion about this topic, triggered by this headline in the Mail on Sunday:
Vicars set to reveal secrets of confession: Church of England may axe 400-year-old sacred law to let clergy report sex attackers

The very very thorough analysis by David Pocklington is here: CofE to axe seal of confessional? Do read it all.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 1:00pm BST | Comments (39) | TrackBack
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Farewell to Welfare!?

Here’s a press release from The National Estate Churches Network:

Farewell to Welfare!?
National Estate Churches Network Annual Conference 2014

1st October St James Church Thurland Rd, Bermondsey, London SE16 4AA
15th October St Michael in the City Upper Pitt St, Liverpool L1 5DB

The National Estate Churches Network has sent us news of their forthcoming conference:

This year’s annual conference explores the effect that the Cuts are having on the people of our poorer housing estates. We are really excited that our keynote speaker at both venues is John Battle the brilliant long-time campaigner and advocate for those who are marginalised. As well as high quality input, there will be time to share and reflect together. What does our Christian Faith demand of us who live and work with those who really feel the impact of benefit reform? Can we make the system better or is it really ‘Farewell to Welfare’?

Book online or you can phone or text 07933 438304 for a booking form.

A whole day conference at just £20 including lunch.
1st October or 15th October 2014 10am-3.30pm

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 September 2014 at 6:25pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

College of Bishops - shared conversations

The Church of England started its series of “shared conversations” on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission this week in the College of Bishops. The College has just finished its meeting and published this press release.

College of Bishops Meeting
17 September 2014

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.

The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church “proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation” as a missionary church in a changing culture ?

The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?

As part of the conversations the college shared the different responses being expressed in the life of the church and the deeply held convictions and experiences that inform them. In this the college reflected the diversity of experience and view held by the country as a whole. The college also acknowledged that at this stage it was not seeking to achieve consensus nor to make any decisions but rather the purpose was being open to see Jesus Christ in those who took an opposing view to their own position.

The resource materials and process prepared for the college will be further developed in the light of the experience there before they are rolled out in regional conversations early next year.

In addition to participating in the shared conversation process the college received presentations on a wide range of issues including Iraq and the Middle East, Science and Religion, Discipleship, Resourcing Ministerial Education and other matters.

A podcast interview with the Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop of Manchester reflecting on the shared conversation process is available here.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Malcolm Brown and David Porter talk about the Shared Conversations

Updated

Church of England press release: Reflections on shared conversations process ahead of College of Bishops

15 September 2014
In a podcast interview Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, and the Revd Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, talk about the process of shared conversations that has flowed [from] the Pilling report as the College of Bishops of the Church of England gathers for its annual residential meeting in Leicestershire.

The College will conduct shared conversations for the next two days in small groups with the discussions remaining confidential, mirroring the wider proposed process.

In an interview recorded ahead of the meeting of the College David Porter and Malcolm Brown recognised that whilst a uniform view on the issues was highly unlikely, the potential for the Church to model a different and more Christ like way of disagreement would be crucial.

Malcolm Brown said: “There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations about hidden agendas. I hope that we’ve unpacked that sufficiently in the light of Pilling indeed to show that that isn’t the case. There’s a lot of reassurance that says this is what it says on the tin and it’s not something hidden.”

David Porter added: “For me the ideal outcome will be that people will be able to articulate with a measure of empathy the views of others that they don’t agree with.….And that we develop that rapport, that capacity to disagree well, that means that when we get to the process which is beyond the shared conversations when decision will have to be made, the way we approach the making of those decisions is done in a way that honours the fact that we are brothers and sisters of Christ. And that even though we disagree, we are going to do that in a way that reflects that reality as much as the reality of our convictions on these issues.” He adds that he hopes people will see the way the conversations are being held and say: “Look at how these Christians love one another because of the way they disagree well.”

Listen to the interview here:

https://soundcloud.com/the-church-of-england/shared-conversations-discussion

The interview is 11 minutes long.

The Pilling report is here:

https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/human-sexuality/pilling-report.aspx

Update
The Church Times has a report of this by Madeleine Davies headlined ‘No hidden agenda’ behind sexuality conversations

THERE is no “hidden agenda” behind the shared conversations on sexuality that begin this week, the Church of England’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs said on Monday.

In a recording published on the Church of England website, Dr Malcolm Brown spoke of a desire to ensure that “some of the fears that are not certainly intended to be substantiated are dispelled. There’s a lot of anxiety around about what may lie behind these conversations, about hidden agendas and things like that. I hope we have unpacked that sufficiently . . . to show that isn’t the case.”

Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, charged with overseeing the conversations, said: “It is what it says on the tin. It’s a process of shared conversation. It’s about creating space that they can feel a certain amount of confidence because someone is there helping hold the ring, so that all voices will be heard; that people will be able to engage with each other in a respectful way, to come and talk about the change that we see in the culture around us in relation to questions of human sexuality, and the diversity that exists within the Church, about how we should respond as people of faith to that…

This article also repeats the remarks from the Bishop of Willesden that we reported on earlier here.

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Church Times reports on Pemberton tribunal claim

Today’s Church Times contains two items relating to the legal action taken by Jeremy Pemberton.

News report: Madeleine Davies Pemberton mounts a legal challenge over lost NHS job

and (same link, scroll down) Rob Clucas The Bishop’s ruling: a legal opinion.

From the news report:

…On Tuesday, a spokesman for the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We have received notification of legal action by Canon Jeremy Pemberton, and at this stage we have no further comment to make.” No comment has been received from the Archbishop of York.

Once an employment-tribunal claim is received by an employer, he or she is usually required to respond within 28 days. One of the uncertainties of this case is whether or not the Bishops can be defined as employers.

On Tuesday, Dr Russell Sandberg, senior lecturer in law at Cardiff University, said: “It depends upon the facts of the case - there is now no presumption that ministers of religion are not employees.

“Furthermore, the definition of employee for discrimination-law purposes is wider than [it is] for unfair dismissal.”

Dr Sandberg also suggested that bishops of the established Church could be considered as holding a public office.

The case, if it is accepted by a tribunal, will also test the interpretation of the Equality Act (2010). Dr Sandberg said: “Organised religions can rely upon an exception from the normal rules forbidding discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, either in order to comply with the doctrines of the religion, or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.”

He warned, however, that the scope and extent of these exceptions was “largely unknown, given the lack of case law, and uncertainty which arose in parliamentary debates”.

From the opinion article:

…But there are complicating factors. First, I understand that the post would be paid for by the NHS. In this situation, is the Church the employer, or the NHS Trust? The NHS Trust, as a public body, has specific positive duties in relation to the Equality Act and sexual orientation (and other protected characteristics), and it is not clear how these would be reconciled with the permitted discrimination under Schedule 9(2). Also, could the Church be a public body? This is at present unclear.

Second, there is a question mark about how adequately the Equality Act 2010 gives effect to the European directive that it was aiming to implement (transpose). Is the implementation of the European legislation defective in failing to require proportionality in the compliance and non-conflict principles of Schedule 9(2) of the Act? This was the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its second report on the Equality Bill, concerning the amend­ments to the Bill that were made at committee stage in the House of Lords.

Where domestic legislation attempting to transpose the directive fails, and a case comes to court, there is a general obligation in EU law on the domestic court or tribunal to interpret the national law in a way that gives effect to European law. If the Act cannot be reinterpreted to comply with the directive, there may be a claim of direct effect, if the case is against a public body.

Whether a remedy is available to an individual will depend on the possibility of the direct effective­ness of the framework directive in the case of the Church’s (or the NHS Trust’s) being a public body in refusing to employ clergy in a same-sex marriages.

Canon Pember­ton’s decision to take legal action against the Arch­bishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Notting­ham is interesting. The law here is complex and unclear…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 September 2014 at 9:29am BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Reflections on the Shared Conversations

Updated again Monday evening

Last month Rachel Mann wrote on her blog about Shared Conversations’ and the place of LGBTI people in the C of E.

‘When are the shared conversations starting and who’s going to be involved?’

…I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this (by church standards!) imminent process in the past couple of weeks. While this fact is no doubt a symptom of my need to get out more, my rumination is also unsurprising. Like pretty much every LGBT person who has chosen to stick around within the church I am profoundly conscious of the extent to which ‘we’ have been treated as something to be talked about, as an issue. So there’s a part of me that’s intrigued by the possibility that we might be talked to. Really talked to.

And, yet, the Pilling Report was also, supposedly, part of a process of being talked to and with. As someone who conversed at length with members of the Pilling Committee I’m not especially convinced I was listened to. It would not be beyond the possibility that I might be the kind of person who was asked to participate in the upcoming conversations. (And I suspect there will be a goodly number of people who – as much out of a desire to know what this process will involve – will be keen to participate.) And yet that previous experience has made me suspicious of the whole process.

In some respects it feels like the world is changing fast. The number of ‘coming outs’ recently, including Vicky Beeching, has hopefully left some church people thinking, ‘are there actually any straight people in the church?’ (;-D). However, the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton and the patchy nature of support for LGBT people in the C of E should give pause. As someone said to me recently, ‘We live in a bubble in Manchester diocese.’ It is a place where – more or less – LGBT lay and ordained can thrive and feel supported. You don’t have to travel too far outside the bounds of the city to experience a quite different reality.

Why am I suspicious about the ‘shared conversation’ process? Partly because ‘conversations’ have been going on in one form or another since at least the Consultations of the ‘70s. And yet it’s not clear that the C of E institution qua institution has shifted that much.

However, I am more concerned about whether the conversations will truly be conversations. The notion of ‘conversation’ includes the meanings of a ‘turning together’ or a ‘changing together’ as well as a living amongst or dwelling together. It is a mesmerizing possibility, but given things like the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement (aka The Valentine’s Day Massacre) it’s difficult for those of us who have been traditionally excluded from welcome in the church to trust that those with power, privilege and authority will genuinely place their privilege at risk of conversion, of conversation.

I believe that, in conversation, a mutual conversion to one other is certainly possible and I guess many of us would still be willing to give it a go. But we’d better hope God is around to give all participants a reality check, a regular kick in the shins.

This week Accepting Evangelicals has published A Woman’s Courage and the House of Bishops…. This discusses the case of Vicky Beeching who is a Patron of AE. But it then goes on to discuss the meeting next week of the College of Bishops:

…Next week, the Church of England’s College of Bishops meet to talk about sexuality. They will spend 2 days together with facilitators trying to find a way to have open conversations on the issue.

According to the CofE briefing paper, “Under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation, Canon David Porter, a team of around 20 trained facilitators will support a process of conversations across the Church of England. They will bring the skills necessary to ensure that the process provides a safe place for all viewpoints to be expressed and to keep the conversations to the objective of seeking understanding rather than having any predetermined trajectory. The process will begin at the meeting of the College of Bishops in September where the bishops will spend two days working in small groups with facilitators.”

These shared conversations are essential for the Church of England, but they will only work if the conversations are truly open and honest. That will take courage.
There are many Bishops who support same-sex relationships but have been too afraid to say what they really think. As one diocesan Bishop said to me at General Synod, “Benny, you know what I think, but I’m chicken – I am too afraid to say it!”

There is also a sizeable minority of the Bishops who are gay themselves. For many of them it is an open secret – one which is only protected by the loyalty and compassion of others which will not ‘out them’ to the world. How stressful must it be for them to continually keep quiet or deflect the conversation or sign up to statements which strike at the very heart of their being.

If the shared conversations next week are to move the Church forward, there must be a greater honesty, greater courage, and greater grace at work than ever before.
Women are renowned for their moral courage, and although there are no women Bishops in post yet, perhaps the courage of people like Vicky Beeching can inspire and challenge our Bishops to have a more open and honest conversation next week. It is certainly long overdue.

Update
The Church Times carries a news report on the forthcoming meeting, see Bishop ‘not optimistic’ on eve of shared conversations by Madeleine Davies.

This article has now been replaced by a new one reporting on the recorded interview published on 15 September, but it still contains the remarks quoted below.

…On Tuesday, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said: “It won’t be an easy conversation - more difficult than that on women bishops - but we are absolutely going with this. . . It is clear that the facilitated conversations over women bishops did make a difference in terms of helping people understand each other better.”

He was, however, “not optimistic about the outcomes. Archbishop Justin has broached the concept of ‘good disagreement’. I don’t think we know what that might look like. There is a huge polarity between those who want the C of E to hold to its historic understanding of marriage - and not to change its canonical and liturgical formulae - and those who want the C of E to embrace total equal treatment, expressed in a change in relation to doctrine, marriage, and pastoral practice. Some are looking for a ‘two integrities’ approach - personally, I can’t see the Church holding together on that kind of basis.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 September 2014 at 9:17am BST | Comments (44) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

LGBTI Anglican Coalition supports Shared Conversations

Press Release

LGBTI Anglican Coalition supports Church of England’s Shared Conversations

From 15 to 17 September, the College of Bishops of the Church of England will be meeting for two days to start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The LGBTI Anglican Coalition welcomes this first step and our members will be praying for a successful outcome to the meeting. Although we have reservations about the context in which this is taking place – articulated very clearly in the recent letter sent from the Trustees of Changing Attitude to all those attending the meeting – nevertheless we welcome the initiative, and hope it bears fruit.

We believe that there are two specific ways in which the College can and should signal that the meeting has been successful.

* The first is to affirm in public that some of their members are themselves gay or bisexual.

* The second is to affirm that within the College there exists a diversity of opinion about the policy issues surrounding sexuality, including both the recognition of civil partnerships and the acceptability of same-sex marriage as a legal right.

These two small steps would do much to enhance the credibility of the bishops, and to encourage LGBTI clergy and laity to participate in subsequent stages of the conversations process.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 at 9:10am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Monday, 8 September 2014

Jeremy Pemberton files employment tribunal claim

The following statement has been issued by the lawyers acting for Canon Jeremy Pemberton:

STATEMENT REGARDING LEGAL ACTION TAKEN BY JEREMY PEMBERTON

“Canon Jeremy Pemberton, the first British clergyman to enter a same sex marriage, has confirmed that he has filed an Equality Act claim in the Employment Tribunal against the Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. The action is being brought because of the sanctions imposed upon him as a result of his marriage. Canon Pemberton married his long term partner Laurence Cunnington in April of this year. Shortly thereafter his permission to officiate was revoked and a licence for chaplaincy work was refused. This led to the withdrawal of a job offer from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Commenting on his decision to issue proceedings in respect of the alleged discrimination that he has suffered, Canon Pemberton said “I am deeply saddened that I have had to take this step against church authorities. However, I feel I have been left with little choice, having found myself being punished and discriminated against simply for exercising my right to marry. I will be making no further comment until these matters have been resolved through the court process.”

Among those assisting Canon Pemberton in his claim are Helen Trotter, a specialist employment and discrimination barrister from Kings Chambers and leading ecclesiastical lawyer, the Revd Justin Gau, from Pump Court Chambers.”

8th September 2014

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Changing Attitude England writes to the College of Bishops

Press Release: Changing Attitude England writes to the College of Bishops

A week ago the Trustees of Changing Attitude England wrote to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17 when they will start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The change in attitude and practice which the shared conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod. Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages.

The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Many already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. Some bishops give their blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.

The Reverend Colin Coward MBE, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:

“The internal divisions in the House of Bishops over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious. The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.

“The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.

“There is a noticeable increase in despair and depression among LGBTI clergy. Partnered clergy are unwilling to marry and those in civil partnership are reluctant to convert their CP to marriage fearing hostile action from their bishop. LGBTI clergy conclude that they will never be able to move to a new post if they marry and that there is effectively no future for them in the Church of England. Potential ordinands are dissuaded from pursuing a vocation.

“People are angry at what they perceive to be the hypocrisy in the incoherent practice of the House of Bishops and the failure to honour lesbian and gay clergy who marry, are in a civil partnership, known to be living with a partner or in a relationship. The teaching of the House of Bishops is now effectively that lesbian and gay clergy couples should live in an unmarried state rather than committing themselves publicly to one another in fidelity and love. Men and women in ministry no longer want to work in an environment which is deceitful and dishonest.”

Changing Attitude England urges a change of policy and practice on the House of Bishops in response to the high levels of anxiety and insecurity being felt LGBTI clergy, licensed lay ministers, and ordinands and the anger and frustration being felt by gay and straight Anglicans.

We urge the House of Bishops to review the Pastoral Guidance document:

  • There are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
  • Clergy and congregations should be free to conduct services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
  • The threat of sanctions against clergy who marry should be removed to enable LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations.

The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.

The text of the letter:

To the College of Bishops and elected senior women

We are writing to every bishop and elected senior woman in advance of the meeting of the College of Bishops from September 15-17. We urge a change of policy and practice on the College and House. The current situation is creating high levels of anxiety and insecurity for LGBTI clergy, ordinands and those exploring a vocation, and to some extent, licensed lay ministers as well.

The change in attitude and practice which the mutual conversations are designed to explore has already taken place. The change is not universally acknowledged and has not been formally approved by the House of Bishops or the General Synod but a change in Church practice has already happened.

Lesbian and gay clergy have married and are intending to marry. Many lesbian and gay lay couples have already married. Their families and friends and congregations welcome them and celebrate their marriages. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Christians allow themselves the freedom to marry and to construct their faith and their ethics and morality according to their reading of Scripture, their inheritance in the faith, prayerfully and after deep reflection and encounter with the living God.

The attitude and practice of many bishops has already changed. Some of you give your blessing and approval to civil partnered lesbian and gay couples without asking whether the relationship is sexually intimate.

The change is not sudden or superficial. It has been evolving for decades as the secular movements for justice for LGBTI people and the Christian campaigns for equality have developed and matured.

Whatever fruits the mutual conversations bear following their conclusion in November 2016, many of you in the College of Bishops and many members of General Synod already affirm that the Church of England is a Church which should include LGBTI people equally in ministry and relationship. This is already the practice of many in our Church.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton

We are writing now because of the refusal of Richard Inwood, acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, to grant Canon Jeremy Pemberton a licence because of his marriage to Laurence Cunnington. As a result, Jeremy’s appointment as Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services Manager at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was withdrawn.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton’s case has attracted a lot of media attention. The media and the majority of people don’t understand what the Church is doing and are confused by the attitude of bishops. This is having a very negative effect on people’s impression of the Church, on the integrity of Christianity in England and on mission and evangelism, reinforcing people’s perception of the Church as systemically prejudiced.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Anglicans, lay and ordained, our families, friends and congregations, have reacted strongly. People are angry for a number of reasons. Many of you will understand why.

People are angry because of the effect this has had on Jeremy and in particular the loss of the new post to which he had been appointed. The way Jeremy has been treated is leading to increased despair and depression among LGBTI clergy.

Division in the House of Bishops

The internal divisions in the House of Bishops are becoming more obvious as a result of the difference in the treatment of Jeremy Pemberton by the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham compared with his treatment by the Bishop of Lincoln and by Andrew Foreshew-Cain’s treatment by the Bishop of Edmonton.

We know from conversations with a number of bishops that some will either take no action against gay priests who marry or will impose the lightest of penalties following the example of +Lincoln and +Edmonton.

Other bishops will impose a harsh penalty by refusing to grant or withdrawing a license or PTO.

The Pastoral Guidance issued in February never had sufficient support from the whole House and was unworkable from the start.

People see a House of Bishops in which the divisions over the Pastoral Guidance and the policy about same-sex marriage are all too obvious.

The effect on LGBTI Anglicans

People in Changing Attitude England’s networks are deeply disappointed by the failure of the bishops known to be supportive of lesbian and gay clergy and relationships to express their support more clearly and strongly.

The divergence of practice has several effects:

  • It is frightening clergy who live with a partner into deciding not to marry and for those in a civil partnership, into deciding not to risk converting their CP to marriage.
  • It is intimidating clergy to conclude that they will never be able to move to a new post if they marry and that there is effectively no future for them in the Church of England.
  • It is dissuading potential ordinands from pursuing a vocation because they do not want to limit their future options by submitting to enforced celibacy.
  • It is making people depressed and fearful.

There are other reasons for the anger people feel:

  • Clergy are angry at what they perceive to be the hypocrisy of the House of Bishops in the incoherent practice now adopted and the failure to honour lesbian and gay clergy who are married, in a civil partnership or known to be living with a partner or in a relationship.
  • The teaching of the House of Bishops is now effectively that you prefer lesbian and gay clergy couples to live in an unmarried state (living in sin as you would describe a heterosexual couple) rather than marrying, thereby committing themselves publicly to one another in fidelity and love and providing legal protection for their relationship.
  • The current ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is now unworkable. Adult men and women in ministry no longer want to collude with bishops, working in an environment which is deceitful and dishonest, being made responsible for the collusion which hides the secret.

Despite what has been said above, more lesbian and gay clergy are planning to marry or to convert their civil partnership to marriage from December onwards.

The Future

The House of Bishops need to review the Pastoral Guidance document urgently to achieve justice and coherence.

  • We urge a proper via media which acknowledges that there are strong theological arguments for accepting and celebrating same-sex partnerships, including marriage.
  • We urge you to give clergy and congregations the freedom to use their discretion in conducting services of thanksgiving and blessing for married same-sex couples.
  • We urge you to remove the threat of potential sanctions against clergy who marry (made real for Jeremy and Andrew). It is impossible for LGBTI clergy and lay ministers to participate in the mutual conversations while this threat hangs over us.

You need to respond to the anger and frustration being felt by LGBTI laity and clergy. The temperature is rising and people are calling for urgent action. We are not prepared to wait for the conclusion of the mutual conversations for the changes which have already occurred to be approved by the House of Bishops.

Yours sincerely,

The Reverend Colin Coward MBE
and the Trustees of Changing Attitude England

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 8 September 2014 at 11:25am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 5 September 2014

Where did your bishop go to school?

Following up on the recent Milburn report, today’s Church Times has analysed the educational background of the bishops of the Church of England.

The detailed results are listed only on the website, below the text of the article appearing in the newspaper.

Read it all at Half the Bishops in the C of E were educated privately.

…Data collected by the Church Times shows that [Welby] is not alone in being educated privately. While he is the only Etonian, 48 (exactly 50 per cent) of the 96 serving bishops whose schooling could be determined were educated in the independent sector. Thirty-five (36 per cent) attended a grammar school; just 13 per cent attended a comprehensive school.

Analysis of the bishops’ undergraduate education shows that 43 (42 per cent) took a first degree at Oxford or Cambridge. The University of Durham was, by a large margin, the third-commonest Alma Mater: 17 per cent of bishops received their first degree from the institution…

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Archbishop invites young Christians to spend year praying at Lambeth Palace

Updated

The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced this new initiative today.

Archbishop of Canterbury invites young Christians to spend year praying at Lambeth Palace

Thursday 4th September 2014

Archbishop Justin Welby is opening up Lambeth Palace to adults aged 20-35 to spend a year living, praying and studying together as a radical new Christian community.

In a unique experiment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is to open up Lambeth Palace in London to Christians aged 20-35 – inviting them to spend a year living, studying and praying at a historic centre of the Anglican Communion.

Launching in September 2015, the Community of St Anselm will gather a group of adventurous young adults from all walks of life, hungry for a challenging and formative experience of life in a praying community.

The Community will initially consist of 16 people living at Lambeth Palace full-time, and up to 40 people, who live and work in London, joining part-time. The year-long programme will include prayer, study, practical service and community life.

Members of the Community will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: drawing closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. But, through those disciplines, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.

Lambeth Palace is in the process of recruiting a Prior to pioneer this new venture and direct its worship and work. The Prior will work under the auspices of the Archbishop, who will be Abbot of the Community.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that the church should always be engaged in doing things that make no sense if God does not exist. The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer. Living in a praying community is the ultimate wager on the existence of God, and is anything but comfortable or risk-free. Through it people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community, and, above all, to God.

“I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve. This is what we expect in following Jesus. I urge young people to step up: here is an open invitation to be transformed and to transform.”

The Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Archbishop Justin is passionate about prayer and about community. The renewal of prayer and Religious Life is the first of his three priorities, and that is what the Community of St Anselm is all about.

“We are inviting people from all around the Anglican Communion – and beyond – to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the Community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind and spirit.”

“Archbishop Justin longs that Lambeth Palace be not so much a historic place of power and authority, but a place from which blessing and service reach to the ends of the earth.”

END

We have also been sent these notes.

  • Four members of the international ecumenical foundation Chemin Neuf came to Lambeth Palace earlier this year to live as a praying community. They will continue to share in the daily round of prayer that underpins the Archbishop’s ministry, while providing invaluable assistance and specialist expertise with this new venture.
  • To be eligible to apply to join the Community, applicants must be aged between 20 and 35. No formal theological, or any other, qualifications are necessary. Applications will be welcome from all over the world, from Christians of any denomination. It will be an ecumenical community.
  • Those who join the Community will be asked to contribute towards the programme and living expenses.
  • Applications will open early next year. Keep checking the website for updates.
  • Saint Anselm, a Benedictine monk and brilliant scholar, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093-1114. His motto of ‘faith seeking understanding’ reminds us that the faith journey begins with an active love of God – and from this love a deeper knowledge of God follows. Anselm became a monk when he was 27 – when he first enquired about the possibility, aged 15, he was turned away.

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury offers monastic gap year at Lambeth Palace

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 September 2014 at 11:11am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Archbishop speaks about minorities in Iraq

Updated Thursday morning

Madeleine Davies writes in the Church Times Welby invokes Holocaust at vigil for Middle East minorities

CHRISTIANS in the Middle East have not been treated so badly since the invasion by Genghis Khan in 1259, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday. He later invoked the Holocaust when addressing an interfaith vigil at Westminster Abbey.

At a press conference at Lambeth Palace in the morning, the Archbishop said: “It took the barbarism of the jihadist militants to wake us up. But this . . . is a new thing. There has not been treatment of Christians in this region in this way since the invasion of Genghis Khan in 1259, 1260. . . I think we find it hard to believe that such horrors can happen.”

He was speaking after a meeting and prayer service with representatives of Middle East Churches, many of whom had just come from the region. In a joint statement, read out by Archbishop Welby, they warned that the region was “in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture”…

Lambeth Palace releases:

Channel 4 News Simon Israel Archbishop: we must counter the ‘obscene simplicity’ of IS ideology

Christian Today Ruth Gledhill Iraq: What influence does Justin Welby have in bringing British Jihadists to justice? and also Carey Lodge This evil must stop: Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq

The Tablet Ruth Dodd Archbishop joins Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders to pray for peace in the Middle East

Huffington Post jessica Elgot Archbishop Of Canterbury Joins Jewish And Muslim Faith Leaders To Declare #WeAreAllHuman

Updates

Guardian Ruth Gledhill Archbishop of Canterbury condemns Isis persecution of Christians

Telegraph John Bingham Prince of Wales ‘heartbroken’ for Christians in Iraq [story does also refer to the archbishop]

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 10:50pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Archbishop Herft talks about Multiculturalism

The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Roger Herft is preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 13 September at the Anglican Catholic Future national festival Life Abundant.

Here is a talk he gave in July to the Diocese of Melbourne ministry conference, entitled Chutney and Chow mein – making disciples in a multicultural Australia. There is much food for thought here for Anglicans in other countries, including the Church of England.

(Other materials from that conference can be found here.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 September 2014 at 12:09pm BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Monday, 1 September 2014

Everyone Counts 2014

Our friends at Anglicans Online have drawn our attention to this survey that the Church of England is about to carry out in a representative sample of parishes.

Everyone Counts 2014: Growing the church for all

Everyone Counts is a congregational survey with a focus on diversity. In October around one in six churches will take part in the survey, answering a few simple but important questions about how they identify and their connection to the church.

Currently, volunteers across the dioceses are getting ready for the survey. This page provides additional information for the churches and coordinators involved. Later we will post updates on the project, additional materials and interim findings.

These papers are available.

Everyone Counts 2014 Information for Churches

Everyone Counts Coordinator FAQs

Celebrating Diversity in the Church of England [a background paper presented to the Archbishops’ Council]

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 1 September 2014 at 6:23pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Oxford Faith Debates: survey of clergy opinion

An announcement from Westminster Faith Debates, Clergy Polled In New Anglican Survey, reports that:

A new survey is underway, gathering information about the beliefs and values of Anglican clergy in the UK for the purpose of academic research, and to support a forthcoming debate series on the Future of the Church of England. Designed by Professor Linda Woodhead at Lancaster University, the survey is being administered by the professional market research agency YouGov among a random sample of UK clergy. It is carried out anonymously so that individuals can complete their answers and express their views with the guarantee of confidentiality.

The research is gathering opinion on different aspects of the Church of England and its future direction from the people who serve it and know it better than anyone. As well as seeking views on the operation and priorities of the Anglican Church itself, the survey also asks for responses to questions on various moral, social and political issues. Findings will be made available on the Westminster Faith Debates website in due course.

These findings will also inform a series of free debates to be held at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford this autumn, which will bring distinguished speakers and experts together with an open public audience to consider how the Church of England can flourish in the future. Panellists include Sir Tony Baldry MP, Vicky Beeching, Diarmaid MacCulloch and the Bishop of Oxford, and the debates will be made available online afterwards as podcasts. The events are being organised by the Westminster Faith Debates, with the support of Ripon College, Cuddesdon and the Church Times.

In addition, Professor Woodhead is inviting any Anglican clergy who are listed in Crockfords to nominate themselves to participate in a panel, which she can call upon to respond to future requests for polls of clergy opinion. Write to s.reader@lancs.ac.uk putting ‘panel’ in the subject line.

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Two new bishops for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

Downing Street has today announced the appointment of two Area Bishops for the newly created Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales. The diocesan bishop Nick Baines has the details: Two new bishops.

The Revd Dr Toby Howarth, currently Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England will be the Bishop of Bradford.

The Revd Dr Jonathan Gibbs, currently Rector of Heswall in the Diocese of Chester, will be the first ever Bishop of Huddersfield. This is a new bishopric covering the local authority areas of Calderdale and Kirklees and is one of five areas in the diocese, which each have their own bishop.

Here are the official announcements from Downing Street.

Suffragan Bishop of Huddersfield: Jonathan Robert Gibbs
Suffragan Bishop of Bradford: Toby Matthew Howarth

The diocesan website has: New Bishops announced for West Yorkshire and Dales.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 at 10:29am BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Monday, 18 August 2014

Vicky Beeching comes out as a lesbian

Last week Patrick Strudwick in the Independent broke the story about Vicky Beeching: Vicky Beeching, Christian rock star ‘I’m gay. God loves me just the way I am’.

Another interview by Jonathan Merritt appeared at RNS Christian rock star Vicky Beeching comes out as gay: An RNS interview.

Channel 4 News had an interview which is included in this report: ‘They made me feel like they thought I was demon-possessed’.

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday interviewed her in the last ten minutes of this episode.

Comments on the matter from others have included:

Eddie Green Outwards and Upwards

Accepting Evangelicals have issued a press release: Evangelical support for Vicky Beeching.

Symon Hill at Ekklesia Vicky Beeching and the EA: Who represents evangelicals?

Peter Ormerod at Comment is free Why Vicky Beeching coming out matters.

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Letter to Government - Iraq and IS

Updated Sunday evening

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has sent a letter about Iraq and IS to the Prime Minister. The bishop has published the text of the letter on his blog with this explanation.

Recognising the complexities of such matters and the difficult role of the Prime Minister in them, I wrote the letter as a constructive stimulus to discussion of the wider questions provoked by what is happening in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Attempting to fix the immediate will prove costly in every respect, if we don’t have a long-term, overarching and holistic vision for what we – along with other governments, agencies and partners (such as the churches) – need to achieve. The lack of clarity about such a comprehensive and coherent vision is being commonly remarked upon, and my letter seeks concisely and respectfully to elicit some response to these serious questions.

Mark Townsend writes in The Observer today that Church launches bitter attack on PM’s ‘incoherent’ Middle East policy.

The Church of England has delivered a withering critique of David Cameron’s Middle East policy, describing the government’s approach as incoherent, ill-thought-out and determined by “the loudest media voice at any particular time”.

The criticisms are made in an extraordinary letter to the prime minister signed by the bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, and written with the support of the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Seen by the Observer, it describes the UK’s foreign policy as so muddled and reactive that it is “difficult to discern the strategic intentions” of the government’s approach to the region…

[The Observer’s link to the full text of the letter is broken; it should be Dear prime minister: what is the UK government’s strategy in Iraq and Syria?]

The Telegraph has Church of England attacks Government response to Iraq crisis.

This morning’s BBC Radio4 Sunday programme covers this story with an interview with the Bishop of Manchester [starting at 1 minute 6 seconds].

The Church of England website has this page on Iraq.

Symon Hill writes that Nick Baines is mistaken: Cameron’s policy is coherent, but morally foul.

Update

Nick Baines has some “comments of explanation”: As I was saying…

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 17 August 2014 at 12:26pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Church of England Finance Statistics 2012

The Church of England has published its Finance Statistics 2012 today together with this press release.

Record amount from parishes to fund ministry and mission, show 2012 stats
14 August 2014

Parishes across the country raised a record amount of £929 million in 2012 to fund the ministry and mission of the Church of England across the country according to statistics published today. Parishes raised these funds from a combination of investments, legacies and donations despite the reduced gift aid rates*. The figure represents a modest increase on £916m in 2011.

In addition to funding the work of the Church at a parish, diocesan and national level, Parish Churches also continued to give generously to other organisations donating more than £46m to other charitable organisations, exceeding the £43.3m raised by Children in Need.

The statistics also show that after three years of deficits, parishes have successfully reduced their expenditure and encouraged more giving, to reach a break-even point in 2012. After adjusting for inflation, the data show that expenditure increased between 2002 and 2009 but has been steadily declining since.

Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser said: “The 2012 figures show the Church’s continued commitment to give generously despite the economic environment. It is a real testimony to the generosity of people in the pews that despite the reduced gift aid rates they have raised the largest ever amount of money to support the ministry and mission of the church. The Christian principle of stewardship is clearly alive and well.”

Notes

* http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/charities/helpsheet-1.pdf

The information in the Finance Stats document is collated from the annual parish returns (excluding the Diocese in Europe).

For further Church of England statistics see https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics.aspx.

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq

The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Iraq yesterday (Friday).

“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.

“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.

“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”

Press reports include:

Edward Malnick The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urges Britain to open doors to persecuted Iraqi Christians

Sam Jones and Owen Bowcott The Guardian Isis persecution of Iraqi Christians has become genocide, says religious leaders

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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Bishop of Gloucester steps back

Updated Friday morning

It was reported on Saturday that the Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was due to retire later this year, was to step back ‘for personal reasons’ with immediate effect. It has now been confirmed that he has today been interviewed by Gloucestershire Police in connection with two alleged incidents of indecent assault in the early 1980s. He has not been arrested and was not charged. One incident concerns a woman aged over 18 at the time, and the other a woman under 18 at the time.

Further coverage in

The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, will act as bishop.

UPDATED Wednesday evening with other reports. There is little or no extra information in any of these stories.

Updated again Friday

The Bishop of Tewkesbury has published this letter on the diocesan website.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 5 August 2014 at 6:32pm BST
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Sunday, 3 August 2014

More discrimination against clergy who enter a same-sex marriage

Updated again Monday evening

Our previous reports on this were Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage and Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages although the subject is also touched on here.

Today, the BBC reports that Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton has NHS job offer withdrawn and there is an audio file of the interview that lies behind this report over here.

The first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner has had an NHS job offer withdrawn because a bishop will not give the licence needed.

Jeremy Pemberton currently works as an NHS chaplain in Lincolnshire, but has been blocked from taking a new job with the NHS in Nottinghamshire…

Other media are now picking up on this story, see for example, the Independent Married gay clergyman has NHS job offer withdrawn after bishop blocks licence .

Updates

The Church Times asked its readers a question about Bishop Richard Inwood’s action last week:

Is Bishop Inwood right to withhold Canon Pemberton’s licence? Total: 571 Yes: 21.5% No: 78.5%

Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written: Church faces legal challenge after blocking job offer to married gay priest.

The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.

The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

“It this is not challenged,” Pemberton said on Sunday, “it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be.”

Anglican clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but the House of Bishops has forbidden them to marry their same-sex partners, at least until a two-year discussion process within the church has been completed.

But the legal process for disciplining clergy who do so is unclear and has not been tested. Supporters of gay marriage claim it is a doctrinal issue, which is cumbersome and difficult for the church to prosecute. Opponents claim it is merely a matter of conduct, for which a simpler legal process exists.

Pemberton’s case suggests that some bishops hope to deal with the matter by ensuring that no one who marries their same-sex partner will ever find another job.

“It is tragic and disappointing that bishops think they can get away with this,” Pemberton said. “I have not been through any disciplinary process…”

The BBC has a further report which quotes a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council: Church of England shuns gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton row

The Church of England has said it will not intervene in the case of the first gay British clergyman to marry.

Following the ceremony in April, Jeremy Pemberton had his permission to work as a priest in Nottinghamshire revoked.

This led to the offer of a chaplaincy with the NHS being withdrawn - although he is still holds a licence and has a similar job in Lincolnshire.

The church, which does not accept gay marriage, said each diocese was responsible for its own decisions…

… a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council said it would not comment on individual decisions made by diocese.

They added: “The Church of England is made up of 42 dioceses.

“Each diocese is autonomous with the diocesan bishop overseeing and taking a lead in its ministry and mission.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 11:49pm BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Bishops call for Iraqi Christians to be given asylum in Britain

The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.

“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…

The story goes on to quote the bishops of Worcester and West Yorkshire and the Dales as well.

On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury had requested that his homepage photo be changed to the Arabic letter for “N” in solidarity with persecuted Christians suffering in Iraq. See Stand with the Archbishop in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.

A list of the Christian organisations in Mosul that have been affected by this persecution can be found here: All 45 Christian Institutions in Mosul Destroyed or Occupied By ISIS.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 9:00am BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Gaza

Lambeth Palace has published this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.

Following a recent update from staff at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza….

Follow the link above to read the full statement.

At the end, there is also a link to the Emergency appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This page contains numerous further links including to pages which give details about how to donate.

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Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage

The BBC reported on a Question that was asked in the House of Lords yesterday as follows: Stop Church sacking gay vicars who marry, says senior Tory.

The Independent has this: Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler.

There is a very detailed explanation of what was actually said, and by whom, at Law & Religion UK in Lords probe Church on same-sex marriage clergy. Read this to find out more.

This article also discusses (scroll down) a question that was asked yesterday concerning the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage. An earlier article explained that the regulations for this, which were due to be debated the previous day were instead withdrawn. See Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update.

The Hansard report of the debate yesterday starts here.

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

About the "outing" of Church of England bishops

*Updated 9 August

There have been several media reports that Peter Tatchell is again considering “outing” some Church of England bishops who are believed to be partnered homosexuals, this time in connection with the issue of clergy who enter same-sex marriages.

This story began when Kelvin Holdsworth interviewed Peter Tatchell on this topic and reported on his blog: Peter Tatchell on Outing Bishops. (Tatchell had come to St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow to deliver a lecture on human rights which you can see in full here.)

Media reports have ensued:
Pink News Peter Tatchell: I am considering outing bishops who discipline married gay clergy

Independent Peter Tatchell threatens to ‘out’ bishops he believes are gay after hospital chaplain Jeremy Pemberton has his license to preach revoked

Now, Paul Johnson has written a lengthy analysis in answer to the question: Do Church of England ‘gay bishops’ have a human right not to be ‘outed’?

…This subject will no doubt be discussed in detail by those learned folk over at Thinking Anglicans and Law and Religion, but one aspect that caught my attention was Tatchell’s interpretation of the bishops’ ‘right to privacy’:

Peter Tatchell: […] we are amassing the evidence right now. I’m not saying that we will use it, but we are certainly thinking about it – because people have a right to privacy so long as they are not using their own power and authority to harm other people and when other people are being caused harm and suffering we have a duty to try and stop it. If this is the only way, it is certainly not the preferable way, it’s not the first option but as a last resort I think it is morally and ethically justifiable.

This made me think: how would Tatchell’s interpretation of the ‘right to privacy’ stand up in the context of ECHR jurisprudence?

Could Article 8 protect Bishops from the practice of ‘outing’?

And he ends his analysis (which should be read in full) with this:

…Conclusion

From the Court’s existing case law it would appear that any complaint to the Court from a Church of England bishop about any failure of the UK to fulfil its positive obligations under Article 8 to prevent discussion of his private life would likely be unsuccessful.

This is because such a discussion would likely be judged to involve a public figure and to be an issue of general debate to which the public had a right to be informed. In short, it would be regarded as necessary in a democratic society to ‘override’ the rights of the individual subject to discussion.

The use of photographic ‘evidence’, however, would raise separate issues and any regulation of it by UK authorities may not be judged to violate Article 10.

As such, aside from its moral or ethical legitimacy, Peter Tatchell’s ‘outing’ of ‘gay bishops’ may be on safe legal grounds in respect of any complaint to the Court by an ‘outed’ bishop under Article 8 of the Convention.

There is a further discussion of the above at Law & Religion UK in “Outing” gay bishops and Article 8 ECHR.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Women bishops measure - changes by the laity

The legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England failed at final approval in 2012 because it did not achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity. A different measure was passed in 2014, primarily because of laity who voted against in 2012, but in favour in 2014.

I have published the detailed voting results on final approval of the 2012 measure here and of the 2014 measure here.

From these spreadsheets I have calculated that of the laity who voted against the 2012 measure:

45 voted against in 2014
20 voted in favour in 2014
4 abstained in 2014
2 were absent in 2014
3 were no longer members of Synod in 2014

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and in favour of the 2014 measure were:

Glynn Harrison (Bristol)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Peter Bruinvels (Guildford)
Keith Malcouronne (Guildford)
Adrian Vincent (Guildford)
Anne Bloor (Leicester)
Christopher Corbet (Lichfield)
Debra Walker (Liverpool)
Philip Rice (London)
John Barber (Manchester)
Peter Capon (Manchester)
Philip Giddings (Oxford)
John Beal (Ripon & Leeds/West Yorks & the Dales)
Thomas Sutcliffe (Southwark)
Mary Judkins (Wakefield/West Yorks & the Dales)
John Davies (Winchester)
Priscilla Hungerford (Winchester)
David Robilliard (Winchester)
Jennifer Barton (Worcester)
Martin Dales (York)

Those who voted against the 2012 measure and abstained in 2014 were:

Peter Collard (Derby)
Ann Turner (Europe)
Prudence Dailey (Oxford)
Victoria Russell (Oxford)

Nobody who voted for the 2012 measure voted against or abstained in 2014.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 9:30pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Women Bishops - detailed voting results

The detailed results for the electronic votes at this months’ meeting of General Synod are now available.

The two relating to the ordination and consecration of women are:

Item 503 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Ordination and Consecration of Women) Measure
Item 504 - Draft Amending Canon No.33

These are pdf files arranged by house, by vote (for, against, abstain) and then by name. I have rearranged them by house and then by synod number, so that members from the same diocese are grouped together. I have also added the names of the absentees. These results are in this spreadsheet.

A very small number of lay and clergy members voted differently for the measure and the canon.

Clergy
1 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
2 abstained on the measure and voted for the canon.

Laity
2 voted against the measure and for the canon.
3 voted against the measure and abstained on the canon.
1 voted for the measure but was absent for the vote on the canon.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 July 2014 at 4:53pm BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Further news and comment on women bishops

Update Wednesday morning
Frank Field MP tweeted at 6.02 pm on Tuesday that “Ecclesiastical Committee, of which I am a Member, has just unanimously approved the women bishops measure. Hurrah!”

Update Wednesday afternoon
The agenda of yesterday’s meeting of the Ecclesiastical Committee, originally linked below, is no longer available.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s opening speech to the Committee is here.

The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament met today (Tuesday) to consider the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. There is a recording of the public part of their meeting here [1 hour 16 minutes].

John Bingham of The Telegraph reports on the meeting: Church of England to use positive discrimination to boost women bishops.

We have reported news and comments on last Monday’s votes at General Synod here, here, here and here. There is more.

Linda Woodhead The Conversation Yes vote for women bishops challenges the Church of England to embed equality

WATCH Synod Voted Yes!

The Ordinariate in England and Wales: Statement from the Ordinary - Women Bishops

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Women in the episcopate: legislation and its adoption

The Primate of Uganda Church of Uganda applauds CoE women bishops vote

Moses Talemwa The Observer (Uganda) Uganda Hails Vote On Women Bishops

Ian Paul asks What are (women) bishops for?

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 9:38pm BST | Comments (90) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages

This roundup has been somewhat delayed due to the distractions of General Synod, but here it is now. Our previous report was on 9 July, and is here.

Madeleine Davies wrote in the Church Times on 11 July: Chaplain is blocked from new post after same-sex marriage. She included this:

…Canon Pemberton said that he had mentioned his application for the new job during his meeting with Bishop Inwood on 29 May, and that he was “not surprised, but disappointed”, to learn that the Bishop had subsequently refused to issue a licence.

“The unequal position that I find myself in is that I have a licence now, and am working in a trust in Lincolnshire; so I am a suitable person to work in the NHS; but if I attempt to move 30 miles away, I become unemployable, apparently.”

He went on: “It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way. Is that proper or legal?

“My action has exposed a faultline here with an NHS that acts strictly under the rules of equality according to the law, and a Church that does not.”

Chaplains are appointed by NHS trusts. The UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, with whom Canon Pemberton is registered, states that: “It is usual for job descriptions and person specifications for chaplaincy posts that include a religious function to specify that a chaplain will have the endorsement of their faith community, often referred to as ‘being in good standing’.”

It continues: “The situation may arise that the standing of a chaplain in relation to her or his faith community or belief group changes during the term of employment. Whilst this may affect the official status of the chaplain as a ‘minister of religion’ or ‘office holder’ of a belief group, it may have no consequences in relation to their terms of employment so long as they continue to practise ethically and professionally.”

NHS Employers was contacted but was unable to comment at the time of going to press.

On Wednesday, the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, said that the removal of Canon Pemberton’s licence was, in his opinion, “unlawful, as there has been no breach of canon law”.

And Hugh Muir in the Guardian had this tidbit:

Battle lines are drawn in the Church of England after the first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner was blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS. Canon Jeremy Pemberton works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire. The Right Rev Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said he is “unable” to issue a licence for Pemberton to work for the NHS in Nottinghamshire “in light of the pastoral guidance and for reasons of consistency”. A number of people have expressed outrage. Add to their number Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford historian of the church. “I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.” They can’t even claim to have history on side.

Changing Attitude has had several articles relating to this action:

At the press conference in York on the evening of 14 July, after the vote on women in the episcopate, the journalists Rachel Younger for Sky News and David Sanderson for The Times both asked the archbishops how soon there would also be bishops who were in same-sex marriages. Needless to say the answers predicted no timescale for this. There is an audio recording of this press conference available here. The Sky News questions come at the very beginning of the conference, and The Times questions come at the very end (about 24 minutes in). A transcript of part of the latter is included here, below the fold.

The Archbishop of York, replying to a question from The Times said:

… All I know is, that we need to find probably a language of conversation just like the Church in New Zealand, which talks about same-gender relationships, which is bigger than purely sex, that language is a more creative language. And if you have read Issues in Human Sexuality the Church of England is very clear that sexual orientation really, and that is what you are talking about has never been a bar to ministry or to anything else. Now a new thing has arrived, called same-sex marriage. That poses in terms of the doctrine of marriage, a problem for the Church of England but I still hope even when that happens, people will still be treated as made in God’s image and likeness and as children of God. And though you may feel that they don’t quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and His Church, nevertheless they mustn’t be diminished, they mustn’t be treated in a way that doesn’t give love and grace and care. And I actually think our two years conversation could give us a language of talking, so that people don’t automatically just cause all kinds of…. And the other worry that I have got, if for example you have got single people, we live in a society in which immediately, they assume if you happen to be a single unmarried bishop this must be xyz, and those kind of things worry me. And people casting aspersions and assuming people’s behaviour and life when actually if you dig deep deep, that is not actually what they are standing for. So I want to find a new way of speaking, a new way of understanding…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 6:15pm BST | Comments (43) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bishop of Edmonton to retire

Updated

Peter Wheatley, the area bishop of Edmonton in the diocese of London has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.

There is nothing about this as yet on the London diocesan website, but we have seen a copy of the letter sent by the bishop to clergy in the Edmonton Area announcing his retirement.

Update 23 July

An announcement of the bishop’s retirement was posted on the diocesan website today: The Bishop of Edmonton announces his retirement.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 12:24pm BST | Comments (47) | TrackBack
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More news and comment on women bishops

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops

Church Times leader comment The morning after

Nick Baines Bishops

David Keen Women Bishops: The Morning After

Janet Henderson Women Bishops, Malala and Mary Robinson

Archbishop of Canterbury Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

Methodist Church in Britain welcomes ‘yes’ vote on women bishops

The United Reformed Church welcomes women bishops

The Baptist Times Baptist welcome for General Synod vote

Statement from the Russian Orthodox Church

Ephraim Radner What Women Bishops Mean For Christian Unity

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, was asked a question about women bishops in the House of Commons on Thursday. The answer is copied below the fold. He indicated that the Measure was likely to complete its passage through Parliament by early October, so that General Synod could promulge the Canon in November.

A letter from Rod Thomas to Reform members: Rod writes in response to the York General Synod

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Women Bishops

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): What the next steps are on the women bishops measure following the General Synod.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The next step is for the Ecclesiastical Committee to meet on Tuesday, when I hope it will pass the measure that was agreed by General Synod on Monday. That will at last enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.

Helen Goodman: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. It is the answer that we have been waiting for the past 20 years to hear. It is very good news for the country and for the Church. I congratulate everybody who secured the result in Synod. When does he think women bishops might be installed, and when does he think they might be introduced into the other place?

Sir Tony Baldry: The answer I feel like giving to the hon. Lady is, “Hallelujah, sister! At last!” After so many years of waiting, the Church of England is going to have women bishops, which will enable it to fulfil its mission as a Church for the whole nation and allow every part of the Church to flourish.

If the Ecclesiastical Committee approves the measure on Tuesday, subject to the agreement of the Leader of the House I hope to bring the measure to this House in September. I think that the other House hopes to deal with the measure early in October. That would enable General Synod to meet formally in November to do the final approval and promulging of the canon. That would enable the Church of England to appoint the first women bishops this year or early next year.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the move towards women bishops. However, for the moment, it is a male preserve. Will he join me in congratulating the Rev. David Court, the new Bishop of Grimsby, who will be consecrated at St Paul’s next week, and wish him well in his work in the Lincoln diocese?

Sir Tony Baldry: Of course. Every bishop in the Church of England is a focus of unity in their own diocese and all bishops undertake incredibly important work. One of the great things about General Synod was that we were able to get agreement for there to be women bishops with no one in the Church feeling hurt or aggrieved. We were therefore able, under the leadership of Archbishop Justin and Archbishop John, to move forward as a united Church.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 19 July 2014 at 11:25am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Assisted Dying Bill

The House of Lords is today debating Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.

Today’s Guardian carries these three articles

John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, My wife knew she was dying – but she chose life
Andrew Brown Legalising assisted dying will put too much pressure on people, says bishop
editorial The Guardian view on assisted dying: safeguard life

But not all clergy oppose the bill.

John Bingham The Telegraph Bishop: uphold sanctity of life by allowing assisted dying
Patrick Sawer The Telegraph Anglican leadership accused of “scaremongering” over assisted dying

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 11:08am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Faith leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law

Twenty four British faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have today called for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

From the Archbishop’s website

Assisted Dying Bill: Archbishop signs faith leaders’ statement

Wednesday 16th July 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today joins over 20 British faith leaders calling for Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill not to be enacted.

In a joint statement ahead of the House of Lords debate on Friday, the faith leaders said that if passed the bill would have “a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.”

This is followed by the full text of the statement and a list of all the signatories.

Press reports on opinions about the bill include:

John Bingham The Telegraph Religious leaders unite to condemn assisted dying law

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England split over assisted dying as debate looms

Denis Campbell and Dominic Smith The Guardian Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation

We reported earlier on the views of George Carey and Justin Welby.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 11:11am BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Women bishops - further reactions to Monday's vote

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops: I’m glad we waited until now, says Archbishop of York

The Telegraph editorial The Church of England has found unity on its own terms

The Telegraph letters Women bishops will meet opposition within the C of E laity

The Guardian letters Female bishops a birthday present for Emmeline Pankhurst

John Spence’s speech to Synod (on YouTube)

Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech to Synod

GRAS (the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) have sent us a press release which is copied below the fold.

GRAS
Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod

PRESS RELEASE
Press briefing for immediate release 14th July 2014

20 years after General Synod legislated to enable women to be priests in the Church of England it has today voted by a clear majority a legislative package enabling women to be bishops. The intention is to complete the process in November. The 1993 legislation included an Act of Synod that many in the church criticised because it appeared to be rushed through to ameliorate those who were opposed to the ordination of women as priests, but who had not expected the legislation to be passed.

The Act made extra provision for those who opposed women’s ordination, and legislated for discrimination in the church. It enabled parishes to vote not to have a bishop who supported women priests, with the implication that a bishop’s hands would be tainted by ordaining a woman. It ensured that no role in the Church of England would be closed to those who opposed women’s ordination, even roles which involved working closely with, or being responsible for, significant numbers of women clergy.

Chair of GRAS - Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod - Ruth McCurry said “We are overjoyed that we have finally seen the last of this Act. But we haven’t seen the end of discrimination against women in the Church of England. There is lots of work still to be done before women and men can truly flourish alongside each other in the church.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:

GRAS - The Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod and the promotion of Women as Bishops - was founded with the primary objective of campaigning to eradicate the 1993 Act of Synod.

Under the new legislation some of the provisions contained in the defunct Act of Synod are reborn in the Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out much of the detail of how the new women bishops Measure will be put into practice. Although its legal status is different, this Declaration will still restrict how women - and those who support them - will be able to minister in the church.

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Richard Frith to be next Bishop of Hereford

It was announced this morning that the next Bishop of Hereford is to be Richard Frith, currently the suffragan Bishop of Hull in the diocese of York.

Announcement on the Hereford diocesan website: New Bishop named for Diocese of Hereford

Announcement on the York diocesan website: Richard Frith to be Bishop of Hereford

Press release from Number 10:

Diocese of Hereford: Right Reverend Richard Frith

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 16 July 2014
Part of: Community and society

The Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith is approved for election as Bishop of Hereford.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Richard Michael Cokayne Frith, MA, Bishop of Hull, for election as Bishop of Hereford in succession to the Right Reverend Anthony Martin Priddis, MA, whose resignation took effect on 24 September 2013.

The Right Reverend Richard Frith

The Right Reverend Richard Frith (aged 65) studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and trained for the ordained ministry at St John’s College Nottingham. He served his curacy at Mortlake with East Sheen in Southwark diocese from 1974 to 1978. From 1978 to 1983 he was a Team Vicar at Thamesmead and from 1983 to 1992 Team Rector at Keynsham, Bath and Wells diocese. From 1991 to 1998 he was Prebendary at Wells Cathedral, for 6 of those years being Archdeacon of Taunton. Since 1998 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Hull.

He is married to Kay and has 4 children and 4 step children. His interests include the theatre and sport, with a particular passion for cricket.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

General Synod - Tuesday's business

General Synod completed its York meeting this morning.

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business

audio recording

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Women bishops - more reports and reactions to Monday's vote

Madeleine Davies, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Women bishops legislation wins Synod’s final approval

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops in months after Synod vote

Jemima Thackray The Telegraph Women bishops: delaying this historic vote was a blessing in disguise

The Telegraph Celebration as Church of England General Synod approves women bishops

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today There will be women bishops… General Synod passes legislation

Ruth Gledhill The Guardian Joy and relief at display of unity for vote on ordination of female bishops

Claer Barrett and Mark Odell Financial Times Church of England synod votes for women bishops

Matthew Engel Financial Times Victory for women bishops but no triumphalism

Andrew Brown The Guardian Jubilation as Church of England’s synod votes to allow female bishops

Andreas Whittam Smith The Independent Women bishops: Church of England still divided but now prepared to trust each other

Stephen Castle The New York Times Church of England Votes to Allow Women as Bishops

Video: Archbishop Welby talks to BBC Newsnight about the vote to allow female bishops

Gillan Scott God & Politics in the UK Good news at last, but the women bishops vote was ultimately never about women bishops

Fulcrum Statement on Synod Vote for Women Bishops

Colin Coward for Changing Attitude Women bishops – finally

WATCH issued a press release which is copied below the fold.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued this statement: Women Bishops - Church of England.

Women and the Church
PRESS RELEASE
14 July 2014

“there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)

Today we are overjoyed that the General Synod has finally passed the legislation that will enable women to become bishops. This marks a new beginning for the church that can now begin to be fully affirming of both the women and men in it.

Much of the tone and mood of the debate today was notably different to that of November 2012 and WATCH gives thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly, supported wholeheartedly and prayed deeply for this wonderful day. Thanks be to God!

Hilary Cotton, Chair of WATCH said
What a historic day. Relief and then joy and then excitement. Yes to women at last.

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Women bishops - immediate reactions to today's vote

Archbishop of Canterbury Church of England approves women bishops

Archbishop of Canterbury “delighted” at result but stresses this is not “winner takes all” but “in love a time for the family to move on together.”

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England General Synod approves female bishops

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod votes for women bishops
and Women bishops: a century of campaigning

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England says yes to women bishops

BBC Church of England General Synod backs women bishops

Lizzie Dearden The Independent Women bishops approved: Cheers as Church of England General Synod votes for historic change

The Council of Bishops of The Society under the patronage of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda has issued this statement, the Catholic Group in General Synod this statement, and Forward in Faith this statement.

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Church of England to have women bishops

Press release from the Church of England

Church of England to have women bishops
14th July 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England has today given its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.

The voting results were as follows:

House of Bishops: Yes 37 No 2 Abstentions 1
House of Clergy: Yes 162 No 25 Abstentions 4
House of Laity: Yes 152 No 45 Abstentions 5

This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

Today’s vote comes 18 months after the proposal was last voted upon in November 2012 when the proposal failed to achieve the required two thirds majority in the House of Laity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today’s result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.

The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.

My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together.“

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
“This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.

To those who ask “what took you so long?” my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be “get over it” but rather “we will not let go until you have blessed us.”

We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: “Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others.”

The legislation approved today includes a House of Bishops declaration, underpinned by five guiding principles and a disputes resolution procedure. Following the vote on the measure which enables women to become Bishops, the Synod voted on enabling legislation (Canon) and also rescinded existing legislation (Act of Synod) as part of a package of measures being proposed.

Following today’s vote the measure moves to the Legislative Committee of General Synod and then to the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Houses of Parliament where the legislation will be considered. Subject to Parliamentary approval the measure will return to the General Synod in November of this year where it will come into force after its promulgation (legal formal announcement).

Today’s vote follows a process which began at the 2013 July Synod which created a steering committee on women bishops, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester James Langstaff, with a mandate to draw up a package of new proposals. Bishop James opened the debate on behalf of the steering committee and responded to the debate urging synod members to vote for the proposals.

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General Synod - votes on women bishops

All portions of the legislative package to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England were approved by General Synod this afternoon.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B)

On the motion

That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 162 in favour, 25 against, 4 recorded abstentions
Laity 152 in favour, 45 against, 5 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B)

On the motion

That the Canon entitled “Amending Canon No 33” be finally approved

there voted

Bishops 37 in favour, 2 against, 1 recorded abstention
Clergy 164 in favour, 24 against, 3 recorded abstentions
Laity 153 in favour, 40 against, 8 recorded abstentions

and the motion was carried with the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three houses.

3) The motion

That the petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) be adopted

was carried on a show of hands.

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A)

The motion

That the draft Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be approved

was carried on a show of hands.

5) The motion

That the Act of Synod rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 be solemnly affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod

was carried on a show of hands

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General Synod - Monday's business

to be updated during the day

order paper for the morning
order paper for the afternoon and evening

official summary of the morning’s business
afternoon’s business
evening’s business

audio
morning
afternoon
evening

The day’s business started with a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant. The following motion was cared by 393 votes in favour to two against, with three recorded abstentions.

That this Synod, believing that the commitment of those that serve in the Armed Forces demands a reciprocal obligation from the Nation to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged:

(a) ask dioceses to reflection the Armed Forces Covenant and to consider signing Community Covenants, where not already signed, and Corporate Covenants setting out how they can both meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families located in their own diocesan area;

(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council to sign a Corporate Armed Forces Covenant setting out how it will provide pastoral and spiritual support for the Armed Forces Community including serving personnel, regulars and reservists, veterans and military families; and

(c) ask the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod in the next Quinquennium on the implementation of the recommendations set out in The Church and the Armed Forces Covenant (GS 1960).

The debates on the legislation to allow women to be bishops started at 11.15 am. There is a package of four items, which are being separately debated.

1) Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1925B) – Draft Measure for Final Approval

2) Draft Amending Canon No. 33 (GS 1926B) – Draft Amending Canon for Final Approval

3) Draft Petition for Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence (GS 1926C) – Draft Petition for Adoption

4) Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 (GS 1934A) - Draft Act of Synod for Final Approval and Affirmation and Proclamation as an Act of Synod

The first two of these (the measure and the canon) require two-thirds majorities in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity) to receive final approval. Motions for the closure of these first two debates are not allowed, so they will continue for as long as there are members wanting to speak. However the chair of the debate (today it will be the Archbishop of York) may at his discretion reduce the speech limit, and chairs have been know to reduce it to almost nothing to encourage people to stop talking.

The other items require no special majority.

At the beginning of the first debate the Archbishop reminded members of this standing order.

17. Breach of Order
The Chairman shall call a member to order for failure to address the Chair, irrelevance, tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of arguments already well rehearsed by other members, unbecoming language, disregard of the authority of the Chairman, or any other breach of order, and may direct him to stop speaking.

Claire Phipps of The Guardian is reporting live on the debate: Church of England General Synod votes on female bishops.

The Synod adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 2.30 pm.

This business was concluded shortly before 5.00 pm with all items passed with the necessary majorities. Details of the votes here.

Synod was then adjourned until 5.15 pm.

The remainder of the day’s business is included in the official summaries above.

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

General Synod - Sunday's business

Order paper for the day

Official summary of business
afternoon
evening

audio of
afternoon session
evening session

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General Synod - Sunday press

John Bingham The Telegraph First women bishops could be appointed by Christmas
Churches will use Magna Carta anniversary to ‘reassert Britain’s Christian heritage’

BBC Women bishops: Archbishop Welby ‘hopeful’ on vote

Press Association (in the Mail Online) Baptism Services May Omit ‘Devil’

Peter Stanford The Telegraph Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

General Synod - Saturday's business

to be updated during the day

Order papers
morning
afternoon and evening

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon
evening

Much of the morning’s business was taken up with the composition of and electorate for the universities constituency in General Synod. A proposal to abolish it was defeated in a vote by houses. The voting figures, which are not given in the summary, were

House of Bishops voted: 5 for, 17 against
House of Clergy voted: 53 for, 69 against
House of Laity voted: 67 for, 65 against
The numbers of abstentions were not stated.

A substantial change was made when Synod voted to extend the constituency to include theological education institutions as well as universities. Again there was a vote by houses.

House of Bishops voted: 12 for, 10 against, 0 abstentions
House of Clergy voted: 71 for, 64 against, 3 abstentions
House of Laity voted: 76 for, 61 against, 2 abstentions

The theological education institutes to be included are those “recognised by the House of Bishops as an institution for training candidates for ordination as ministers of the Church of England”.

These, and other non-contentious changes to the universities constituency, are subject to final approval, which is scheduled for debate on Tuesday.

Jim Wallis gave this presentation on The Uncommon Good in the afternoon, and this interview afterwards.

audio of
morning session
afternoon session - Jim Wallis speech
remainder of afternoon session
evening session

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Assisted Dying Bill - Carey and Welby disagree

Updated

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written for The Times on why he believes the Assisted Dying Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords next week, is “both mistaken and dangerous”. His article can be read here: Archbishop Justin writes for The Times on the Assisted Dying Bill.

Meanwhile, former archbishop George Carey has said that he supports a change in the law on assisted suicide. He has explained his views in this article written for the Daily Mail: Why I’ve changed my mind on assisted dying says a former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Press reports include:

James Chapman Mail Online Carey: I’ve changed my mind on right to die: On eve of Lords debate, ex-Archbishop dramatically backs assisted death law
John Bingham The Telegraph Lord Carey: I support assisted dying
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Former archbishop lends his support to campaign to legalise right to die
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Former Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Why I support assisted suicide’
The Telegraph Archbishop Welby: Assisted dying is ‘sword of Damocles’ over vulnerable

Update

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England calls for review on assisted dying
Nicholas Watt, Shane Hickey and agencies The Guardian Church of England seeks inquiry over bill to legalise assisted dying

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Friday, 11 July 2014

General Synod - Friday's business

to be updated during the day

The first day’s business is listed in Order paper 1.

Despite some initial confusion during the debate on the report of the reference to the dioceses of the women bishops legislation, Sue Booys, the chair of the Business Committee, confirmed that two-thirds majorities in each house will be required for final approval of both the draft measure and the amending canon when they are debated on Monday.

It was also made clear that abstentions (whether recorded or not) do not count in the calculation of the size of any majority.

The final drafting of the draft measure and amending canon were agreed; the only drafting amendments were to some of the numbering in the canon.

The final versions of these, to be debated on Monday, are here: draft measure and draft amending canon.

Official summary of the day’s business:
Friday afternoon
Friday evening

Audio of day 1

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General Synod

Updated Friday afternoon, Saturday morning

The Church of England General Synod meets in York from this afternoon until Tuesday.

Some pre-synod press:

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod: women bishops campaigners praying for a breakthrough
The Church of England General Synod - a rough guide
Women bishops: what are the issues?

Press Association General Synod Vote on Women Bishops [on the Mail Online website]

Ruth Gledhill Chrisitian Today General Synod: Will women bishops happen this time?

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Church, worldly values, the ‘common good’ and war

You can follow the proceedings at this Live video stream.

The Agenda and papers are here.

Update

Church Times leader The vote on Monday

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England edges towards historic breakthrough on women bishops

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Church Commissioners confirm Wonga exit

Updated Friday afternoon

The Church Commissioners issued this press release this evening.

Church Commissioners confirm Wonga exit

10 July 2014

The Church Commissioners for England are pleased to announce that their indirect investment exposure to Wonga in their venture capital portfolio has been removed. The Church Commissioners no longer have any financial or any other interest in Wonga.

The terms ensure that the Church Commissioners have not made any profit from their investment exposure to Wonga.

At no time have the Commissioners invested directly in Wonga or in other pay day lenders. The indirect exposure of the Commissioners through pooled funds represented considerably less than 0.01% of the value of Wonga.

The Church Commissioners estimate that if they had had to sell their entire venture capital holdings they might have lost £3-9m to remove the exposure to Wonga, which was worth less than £100,000. The Commissioners are pleased that another way forward has been agreed given their fiduciary duties to clergy pensioners and to all the parts of the Church they support financially.

The Commissioners believe venture capital to be a good and useful instrument with significant potential to serve the common good. It gets new businesses up and running and supports the economy and jobs.

The Commissioners have made a number of ethical investment changes. They have tightened their investment restrictions for direct investments, will announce new controls on indirect investments later in the year and have created a new responsible investment position in their investment team to lead the implementation of the Commissioners’ ethical investment policies and responsible investment commitments, supporting the work of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

The Commissioners’ focus remains the mission they share with the Archbishop of Canterbury - supporting the ministry and growth of the Church of England.

The Commissioners will also continue to seek ways, consistent with their fiduciary duties, to support the Church’s priority of promoting responsible credit and savings. In 2013 they provided £200,000 of start-up capital to the credit union the Church itself is establishing, the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. As active stewards of their investments the Commissioners will continue to engage with financial services companies to encourage responsible credit and savings practice.

Update - press reports

Chris Johnston The Guardian Church of England finally severs financial links with Wonga

Paul Handley Church Times The Church of England pulls its cash out of Wonga

BBC Church of England ends Wonga investment

Ian Johnston Independent Church of England severs its links with payday lender Wonga

Sharlene Goff Financial Times Church of England sells indirect stake in Wonga

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England finally casts out Wonga

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Child abuse inquiry

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced on Monday that there will be an inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse in Establishment circles in the 1970s and 80s.

Patrick Wintour The Guardian Theresa May promises child abuse inquiry with ‘maximum transparency’
David Barrett, James Kirkup and Georgia Graham The Telegraph Theresa May launches major new inquiry into child sex abuse allegations

Statement from Bishop of Durham on Government announcement on child abuse inquiries

BBC Bishop of Durham: Abuse inquiry ‘good first phase’

It was later announced that the inquiry was to be headed by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the Family Division of the High Court. There has been criticism of this choice.

BBC Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry
Nicholas Watt The Guardian Lady Butler-Sloss to lead child abuse inquiry

Nicholas Watt The Guardian ‘Conflict of interest’ raised over Butler-Sloss role in child abuse inquiry
David Barrett and Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Baroness Butler-Sloss criticised over previous ‘flawed’ paedophile report

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Women bishops - is there a plan C?

Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.

The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.

The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.

Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…

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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bishop refuses to license married health service chaplain

Updated Thursday morning

Update
Guardian Chaplain accuses Church of England of homophobia

The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage has accused the Church of England of homophobia and said that he is considering legal action after it blocked his attempt to take up a new post in a move he says is intended to stop others following in his footsteps…

The following information is taken from a posting by Laurence Cunnington on the Facebook page of Changing Attitude and is also available there.

…You will all, no doubt, be aware from recent press and internet coverage that Jeremy Pemberton has had his ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese removed by the acting Bishop, following consultation with the Archbishop of York. Distressing as this was, there has now been a further significant and much more serious development.

Background

Jeremy currently works as a Chaplain in an NHS Trust in Lincolnshire and retains his general licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. Jeremy received a written rebuke from this Bishop for contracting his marriage with me but this had no impact on his employment.

However, he has recently been successful in his application for a promotion within the NHS to become the Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services in a large hospital closer to home. This hospital is located within the geographical area covered by the Church’s Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. For those of you who are unaware, NHS chaplains are funded in full by the NHS and not by the Church of England.

Present position

The NHS has requested the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham to issue Jeremy with a licence in order that he may take up his new job. This is standard procedure. The Bishop has refused to issue any form of licence to Jeremy as, by his marriage to me, and for no other reason, he does not, according to the Bishop ‘model the Church’s teaching’ in his life. Leaving aside the insulting nature of this phrase, the effect of this refusal is that Jeremy will be denied the opportunity to take up his new position and develop his ministry further. There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.

I realise that, as Jeremy’s husband, I am far from impartial but those of you who know him well will recognise my description of him as a fine man of integrity and exceptional abilities and whose ministry in this Diocese would be a tremendous asset to those he serves. I am appalled, to put it mildly, that he is to be denied this opportunity solely because of his marital status. It is worth pointing out that Paul Butler (now Bishop of Durham) and the current Bishop of Lincoln issued Jeremy with his PTO and licence respectively in the past in the full knowledge that he is gay and living in a relationship with me. All that has changed is that we have got married. Nearly 100 of you were there on that day and will recall the commitment we made to each other with our vows. For this to result in the ruining of Jeremy’s employment prospects is outrageous and is, in my opinion, homophobic bullying.

What I am asking

Some of you may think what Jeremy has done is wrong and that he is paying the penalty for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I ask you to do nothing. Those of you who agree with me, I would ask that you consider doing one or more of the following in order to show support and perhaps result in the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham changing his mind and issuing Jeremy with some form of a licence. When writing, it may carry more weight if you mention that you are a Christian/member of the Church of England if you are.

You could write, expressing your views to:

The Right Revd Richard Inwood
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
Jubilee House
Westgate
Southwell
NG25 0JH
Email bishop@southwell.anglican.org

I am not clear whether this latest decision was as a result of consultation with the Archbishop of York but, in any event, I would ask that you copy your correspondence to him at:

The Most Revd & Right Hon Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York
Bishopthorpe Palace
Bishopthorpe
York
YO23 2GE
Email office@archbishopofyork.org

The Acting Dean of Southwell Minster, Nigel Coates, is extremely supportive, for which Jeremy and I are most grateful. You may also wish to contact him to express your support at:
The Revd Canon Nigel Coates
Acting Dean of Southwell Minster
Minster Centre
Church Street
Southwell
NG25 0HD
Email dean@southwellminster.org.uk

The Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will be attending the grand re-opening of the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster on 7th October. You might wish to consider attending this event and taking the opportunity to bring your opinion of their treatment of Jeremy to their attention…

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Monday, 7 July 2014

Women bishops vote is one week away

Updated

We previously reported on this topic on 20 June: Women in the Episcopate Legislation and Expect a conservative evangelical bishop soon.

Last week the Church Times reported that Swing voters say they will now back women bishops.

THE pivotal votes of a small num­ber of members of the General Synod who helped to defeat the women-bishops Measure in Novem­ber 2012 have swung to the Yes camp.

The earlier Measure was lost by six votes in the House of Laity. Instrumental to the defeat were a handful of members who, despite being in favour of the consecration of women as bishops, voted against the Measure, prompted by a concern that it did not offer enough provision for those who were opposed on principle.

Five of these members told the Church Times this week that they now planned to vote in favour…

Update

Today, Forward in Faith has published this press release: The July 2014 Sessions of the General Synod

The Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod, Canon Simon Killwick, has issued the following statement:

“Following the failure of the previous legislation in November 2012, the Catholic Group immediately called for round-table talks to agree on a new package which could be fast-tracked through the Synod. These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect. We look forward to this new atmosphere pervading the debates at the forthcoming Synod and beyond, so that we can all move forward as one.”

Please pray for the members of the General Synod, which meets in York from Friday 10 July to Tuesday 15 July:
www.praynovena.org.uk

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 July 2014 at 10:55am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 July 2014

More on same-sex marriage and clergy discipline

Updated Sunday afternoon

We reported previously on the Bishop of Norwich’s “blacklist” (note the quotation marks). This terminology was a direct quotation from a Guardian news report, originally linked in an earlier article. That Guardian report was subsequently amended.

David Pocklington has recently provided a very detailed account of the background to all this in an article at Law & Religion UK entitled Clergy blacklists, blue files and the Archbishops’ List. This explains in great detail exactly what the current procedures are, what lists do exist, and how a name can get onto a list.

And now Colin Coward has published Bishop of Norwich clarifies purpose of monitoring and reference group. The bishop wrote:

“It was a surprise to read that I was apparently keeping a blacklist of clergy who had entered same sex marriages or was charged with acting against them. Such assertions are a very long way from the truth.

“What I have agreed to do at the request of the Archbishops is to be available to other diocesan bishops for consultation as and when they have to decide what to do if clergy in their dioceses marry a same sex partner. There may well be courses of action or ways of responding which they have not considered, and I hope the reference group will ensure cases are not dealt with erratically.

“I am not charged with taking any initiative, nor would I do so (it is up to diocesan bishops to contact me) but I hope that in this matter, as in all things, there is still the possibility for some pastoral wisdom.”

Changing Attitude has also published this: Same sex marriage guidance for clergy.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 July 2014 at 2:00pm BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Friday, 4 July 2014

CNC delays

A question was asked in the House of Lords yesterday about the appointment of the next Bishop of Guildford. A short debate followed about the length of time between the announcement of a vacancy for a diocesan bishop and the meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission to nominate a successor. The full text of the debate (which did at times stray off topic) is copied below the fold.

Blogger Archbishop Cranmer comments on
The sluggish delinquency of the Crown Nominations Commission.

Bishop of Guildford: Appointment
Question
Tabled by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen in respect of a new Bishop for Guildford.

Baroness Harris of Richmond (LD): My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, and at his request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the Crown Nominations Commission had its first meeting in early June and will have its second meeting on 21 and 22 July. The Prime Minister awaits the nomination from the Crown Nominations Commission and will then make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen, with the hope of an announcement in September.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: I thank my noble friend for his reply, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will. I mention my having just completed the lengthy but very successful process of choosing a new dean for Ripon Cathedral, in a new and vast super-diocese. Will my noble friend consider sitting down with the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments and the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary, both of whom do a magnificent job with very few resources, and perhaps with others who have been through this long and involved process, to review and come back with some proposals to streamline that process? Alternatively, should the church be free to appoint its own bishops? I declare an interest as high steward of Ripon Cathedral.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, because of the age profile of the current House of Bishops, I understand that a number of vacancies and some retirements are coming along. I know that the most reverend Primate is conscious of this. The last time this was considered in 2008, the previous Government brought forward some changes to the appointments process. This Government do not have any proposals to change any further but I am sure that these matters ought to be borne in mind.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a slightly broader question about public appointments which have been held up.

Is he aware that since last Monday, the Science Museum Group—I declare an interest as a trustee—has been without a chairman, even though the process to reappoint the excellent Dr Douglas Gurr started as long ago as last summer? Numerous other appointments are awaiting decisions from the Cabinet Office or 10 Downing Street, of which the Science Museum is perhaps the most blatant example at the moment.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I very much take the noble Lord’s point. Leadership in all institutions and bodies is very important and I will take that back. Again, I am very mindful of the point that the noble Lord is making.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister find it helpful if the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was made aware of the concern of the House about there being sufficient meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission, so that when there is a pile-up of episcopal vacancies, as it were, there are sufficient meetings to address that? Is the Minister also aware that we very much hope to have legislation by the end of this year so that women can become bishops?

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: They would therefore be eligible, and much overdue, to come into this House.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, what the right reverend Prelate said last is of great importance not only in this House but to the nation as a whole. I wish the deliberations of the General Synod extremely well. I know that when we had a previous exchange the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was going to be made aware of some of the concerns, and it would be extremely helpful if a record of our discussions today were made known to him.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): I shall ask a slightly narrower question than the Question on the Order Paper. Is the Minister aware that Guildford is a lovely place and that the cathedral at the centre is superbly sited, although it is in need of funds for repairs? Does he agree that there ought to be a whole raft of people eager to serve in this great role as bishop of Guildford? I hope there is an excellent range of candidates, one of whom will soon be appointed.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I agree with my noble friend. I hope the appointment will be made soon. It is very important that dioceses have bishops at the helm. I am aware that Guildford is in a very beautiful county, the most wooded county in the country. It is a fine place.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, is Guildford a suitable place for fracking?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am sure that when the new bishop arrives he—or perhaps, if it is some time, she—will consider these things. The important thing is that we need an energy mix in this country. Fracking could well provide that. Clearly it needs to be done carefully and sensitively, but we should not pass this opportunity.

Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, I expect that the winds of change will blow through the Anglican Church later this month. Will the Minister outline whether the Government will take this opportunity to look at the selection process for appointments in slightly more detail? Previously, I lived in the north-west of England for nine years. Liverpool, Manchester, Warrington, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Preston and Lancashire are not currently on the Benches of the Lords spiritual but, as of right, Winchester is. That diocese includes the Channel Islands, which are not in the United Kingdom. Is it not time that we had a system of appointment that saw our metropolitan cities represented as of right?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I can safely say that much of this is a matter for the church. There is legislation going back to the 19th century on these matters. At some point perhaps that might be looked at.

Lord Morgan (Lab): My Lords, would it not be desirable if the Prime Minister made no suggestion about appointing the Bishop of Guildford, as would be the case with the disestablished Church in Wales? Would that not greatly liberate the church as an independent body free from the trammels of state interference?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am not sure that I am inclined to that view. Obviously the Church in Wales and the Church of England have taken different paths. That is a matter for the Church of England.

Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, we should be careful because the Church of Rome appoints its own bishops and takes a great deal longer than the Church of England, which is itself very dilatory. Changes do not necessarily speed up the system.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I am a great believer that if one does not want too much change, one should have some change.

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, the House is not sitting tomorrow. There was mention of Her Majesty. Tomorrow, Her Majesty is naming the first fleet carrier to have been built since the Second World War. It is the work of 10,000 men and women around our country—a masterpiece of engineering. Would the Minister like to acknowledge and welcome this marvellous event tomorrow?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the whole nation is extremely fortunate to have a head of state who works so hard on our behalf.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 July 2014 at 12:01pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Presiding Bishop visits St Albans and Oxford

Updated Friday evening

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church recently visited St Albans and Oxford.

At St Albans she preached at the Alban Pilgrimage.

ENS Video: Presiding Bishop preaches at Alban Pilgrimage

ENS Video: Alban Pilgrimage pays tribute to Britain’s first Christian martyr

At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.

ENS Presiding Bishop preaches in Oxford

ENS Presiding Bishop receives honorary degree from Oxford University

The citation for the degree can be seen here.

The Church Times carries this interview with her, conducted by Paul Handley ‘A long process of liberation’.

Lucy Davis of WATCH has written Wonderful, inspiring day in St Albans with Bishop Katharine.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 July 2014 at 12:44pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bishop of Basingstoke

Press release from the Prime Minster’s Office.

Suffragan Bishop of Basingstoke: David Grant Williams
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
History: Published 26 June 2014
Part of: Arts and culture

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Canon David Grant Williams, BSc, Vicar of Christ Church, Winchester, in the Diocese of Winchester, and Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral to the Suffragan See of Basingstoke, in succession to the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, MA, on his translation to the See of Bath and Wells on 4 March 2014.

Reverend Canon David Williams

The Revd Canon David Williams (aged 53) studied Social Policy at Bristol University and after some years working with CMS in Kenya, trained for the ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his curacy in the Diocese of Sheffield at All Saints, Ecclesall from 1989 to 1992 after which he became Vicar of Dore, an adjacent parish. He was made Rural Dean of Ecclesall in 1997 and served in this role until moving south in 2002. During these years he was also a Chaplain at Aldine House Secure Children’s Home.

Moving to the Diocese of Winchester in 2002, he became Vicar of Christ Church Winchester and was made an Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral in 2012. He was elected to General Synod in 2010 and became Chair of the House of Clergy of Winchester Diocesan Synod in 2012.

David grew up in Uganda and retains strong links with East Africa. He is married to Helen and they have 2 children, Sarah (25) and Mark (22). David owns a small racing yacht and spends days off sailing in the Solent. Together with his son, Mark, he also completed 2 long motorbike journeys across Eastern and Central Africa in 2010 and 2012.

The Bishop-designate said today:

“During the 13 years Helen and I have lived and worked in Winchester, we have grown to love the church and its people and are very much looking forward to serving in a wider context across the diocese. We look forward to welcoming many to our new home and to sharing in the life and ministry of the people of God here.”

The Winchester diocesan website has A new Bishop for Basingstoke in which it is stated that “The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided that David’s consecration as Bishop of Basingstoke will take place at Winchester Cathedral, the first consecration in the city for many years.”

Consecrations in the Canterbury province normally take place in London at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or Southwark Cathedral. Readers may know where and when the last one was held elsewhere.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 2:52pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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The CofE, Ethical Investment - and Wonga

Yesterday’s second distribution of General Synod papers included the annual report of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group. Also published was this press release.

Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened
27 June 2014

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons - published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.

Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”

The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies - including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.

Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.

“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”

Press reports include:

Ben Quinn The Guardian Wonga: Church of England advised by ethics review to keep its stake

Alex Blackburne Blue & Green Tomorrow Church of England reduces exposure to ‘sin stocks’ after ethical investment review

Christian Today Wonga controversy leads to changes in Church of England’s investment policies

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 28 June 2014 at 10:28am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Oxford Faith Debates: The Future of the Church of England

The organisation that brought you the Westminster Faith Debates now brings you a new series of five debates specifically about the Church of England.

They will be held in Oxford, at the University Church, on Thursdays in October, November and December, from 5.30 pm to 7 pm, under the overall title The Future of the Church of England. Click on each link below for details of the speakers.

Thursday 9 October PARISHES – What future for the Parochial System?

Thursday 23 October HERITAGE – How can Buildings, Endowments and Pensions become Assets not Burdens?

Thursday 6 November