Comments: Crown Appointments: consultation paper

"...the balance to be struck between uniformity and diversity... The Pilling report recommended a number of ways in which the Church could raise its game... A sensible objective might be to aim for such streamlining as will achieve a measure of simplification and clarity without producing a uniformity that squeezes out flexibility or threatens the ‘biodiversity’ of the Church."

Broad Church anyone?

Posted by badman at Monday, 15 October 2007 at 3:17pm BST

Would prefer a faithful church....broadness is not a biblical imperative, badman

Posted by NP at Monday, 15 October 2007 at 5:28pm BST

NP never sleeps, does he?

Posted by trueanglican at Monday, 15 October 2007 at 10:17pm BST

"Broad church" does not preclude faithfulness.

Posted by Lois Keen at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 12:12am BST

"Faithful," of course, means: keep the gay stuff away from me!

(You see, when it comes to "faithfulness," holding to the Creeds is basically unimportant and carries no weight whatsoever; what really matters is homosexuality!

Just helpfully translating for the benefit of those who might not speak Modern "orthodox.")

Posted by bls at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 2:34am BST

just woke up.... but seriously, hardly a radical view that church should be faithful before it is broad, is it?

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 7:02am BST

""Broad church" does not preclude faithfulness."

Yes it does! "Faithful", as far as I can see, means adherent to Law. Implicit in this is the idea that the Law to which one is required to adhere is a rigid interpretation of Scripture as the only revelation of God. Thus, unless one is an Evangelical, and from NP's point of view not even all Evangelicals are within the fold, only those as rigid as he, then one cannot, by definition, be faithful. Simple. I am faithless because I am an Anglo-Catholic. Worse, I actually have faith that the victory which Christ gives us means that the saints can hear my prayers and intercede fopr me! I know enough of Church history to know that his brand of fundamentalism, despite his claims to the contrary, are only around 500 years old, if that, and are not part of the more ancient tradition of Christianity handed down to us. I even believe that the bread and wine of the Eucharist become the Body and Blood of Christ! So, you see, I have no faith at all.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 12:58pm BST

In a recent documentary, here in the states, the remark was made that the fact that no established state church exist has actually benefited religion in America. It further stated that this was the intent of the founders fathers.

With the CofE the fear could be that the Evangelicals there would do what they claim TEC is doing to Orthodox here (if indeed the Evangelicals have a majority). If I where a third party I'd be careful supporting some groups less they turn around and force them out Anglo Catholics-Evangelicals). There has to be a place for those who aren't evangelicals. This need to purge everyone who doesn't agree with a particular point of view needs to stop if we're going to stay together and show the world that we can be of one family even though we don't agree on every issue (NP: could we worship in the same church, come to the table of the Lord, have brunch and still be on opposite sides???)


Posted by BobinSwPA at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 3:19pm BST

I like broad chucrch for itself. But even more, I love the way it seems to imply the extremes. In fact, it holds (or used to) the extreme poles together. Not just filling in the hinterland between them----but even that is useful--surely ?

But i sem to love the extremes too.

I used always to go to the early service at my parish church (8am BCP Communion- a service with brea & wine-not a denomination); and then on to high mass at 11 am but a twenty minutes bus ride away. I also loved Evensong & Benediction & charismatic worship and Billy Graham. It's all good in its own way and on its own terms (and inner logic and poetry). Innit ?

Posted by L Roberts at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 3:22pm BST

"hardly a radical view that church should be faithful before it is broad, is it?"

No, but it's an incredibly narrow minded, judgemental, and arrogant attitude to assume that to be 'broad' is to be faithless. Ever stop to think that it is the broad churchers who are the faithful ones? Ever question that, maybe, you have it wrong? Literal interpretation of Scripture conveniently takes away the agony of self doubt, though, doesn't it?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 3:29pm BST

Ford - sorry, I shall have to retain, in your judgnment, an "incredibly narrow minded, judgemental, and arrogant attitude" because I am afraid the bible is very clear about the qualities we ought to see in church leaders and I do not feel I have the authority to deviate from it (since it is "inspired" by you know who and all that)

(1 Tim 2) "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money."

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 5:23pm BST

Coming back to the topic, I think it will effectively make no real difference in that there are hardly any occasions of direct influence by the PM. Carey's success is down to that, certainly, but there are hardly any other examples

The real issue is whether the actual status of establishment will be affected. A combination of the church moving further away from social reality and King Charles may encourage this, but I think as it stands, this is a non-story.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 8:22pm BST


+Jim Thompson is another example of Thatcher's meddling: she refused to forward his name for the see of Birmingham in 1987 on account of his liberal churchmanship.

And what about ++Rowan? I thought the choice of him over Nazir Ali was due to the direct influence of the PM and his advisors? I assumed that the choice element was designed to prevent one wing of the church becoming too dominant (which is why Nazir Ali would have been a bad choice to follow Carey). On the other hand, the Carey shenanigans demonstrated that decisions made in this way do not always take into account competance. The commission must have put his name forwards in an attempt to force Thatcher's hand, but it backfired badly and left a mess which still is being cleaned up today.

The question I would want to consider, is whether leaving the selection entirely in the hands of the Church would lead to any better result in terms of choosing a competent candidate.

Posted by Matthew B at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 1:14am BST

Well, I think the chances of Nazir-Ali being chosen were nil, so if he was the other name, then its obvious that it was a one-horse race and who the PM would pick.

Thompson - yes, wasn't that more about his left-wing politics than his churchmanship. Of course she chose Mark Santer instead who was if anything, even more left wing!

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 11:30am BST

"I do not feel I have the authority to deviate from it"

LOL! So, you just go ahead and deviate from it without authority?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 12:28pm BST

Please comment on the substantive topic, proposals for the reform of part of the the appointments system, and not on unrelated issues. Comments that do not do so may not be published.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 1:07pm BST

From my admittedly American perspective, the whole thing seems like it ought to be opened up and made more democratic. I know that there are representatives from the local diocese present when the choices for bishop of a vacant see are discussed, but why can't the diocese meet synodically and vote? Where's the process to determine what the people of the diocese need or want in a bishop?

The whole point of establishment, at least in theory, was that the Crown represented the entire nation and not the interest of particular parties in the Church. So, if the Crown isn't going to be even attempting to exercise that authority, who really speaks for the person in the pews?

I am not saying that the way things are done in the U.S. is perfect or should be necessarily copied in England. But it does seem more transparent here, and I think transparency is something that the C of E could use.

Posted by John Bassett at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 8:05pm BST

I am not sure that the appointments system is really reformable -- no system is so irreformable (& corrupt) as oligarchy -- at least some Prime Ministers made some good appointments (can't the Holy Spirit act through PMs, or is that too much to ask even of the deity?)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 8:17pm BST

Just be clear, NP, on the basis of (in fact) 1 Tim 3, no single man is eligible for the office of bishop. You confirm that?

Posted by JBE at Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 9:33pm BST

John Basset asked " where's the process to determine what the people of the diocese need or want in a bishop".

We've been through this in the last year. Every Diocese has a Vacancy in See committee with a majority of elected members (I think elected by the Synod). The Bishop's Council has (limited) power to co-opt to ensure it has a range of representation (across the diversity spectrum). This committee then produces the Diocese's statement of needs and wants and elects 6 of its number to join the 6 national (elected by General Synod) reps and the two archbishops. This group of 14 then forms the appointments panel. Any decision of the panel requires a two thirds majority (by secret ballot), so the diocesan reps have a blocking minority should that be required.

My view is that this balances the needs and aspirations of the local church with those of the national church. It reflects the fact that bishops are not simply "of" their diocese but part of the universal church and apostolic succession and tradition. It combines a strong democratic element (only the archbishops are not elected specifically to serve on the panel) but avoids the sort of jockeying for position or nursing of a constituency that shames many political systems. It also avoids the battles (or collapse of governance) that occur when there are successive processes such as the local church electing somebody that the wider church has then to ratify or reject. My observation is that the balance between local and universal is very rarely handled well in systems that have successive processes.

Posted by David Walker at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 8:55am BST

JBE - I am sure you aware that the NT is very clear that marriage and singleness are both ok for Christians....

1 Corinthians 7:9 "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

Posted by NP at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 9:05am BST

Thanks David for the clarification. I knew there was local representation on the committee, but you explained how it worked to me better than I knew before.

I suppose there are large cultural differences between the US and the UK which are inevitably reflected in the two churches. Our Constitution is based on the ideas of popular sovereignty and the division of power, and our church governance also reflects those notions. The British Constitution, at least in the classic description of it given by Bagehot and his followers, rejects both those notion and believes in the central power of the Crown. In the same way, the governance of the Church of England has historically had a bias towards central authority, and that is reflected in this process as well.

I am not quite so sure that "jockeying for position" and the "nursing of constitutencies" is absent from your Church, however. Indeed, I can name several prominent clerics who are doing just that right now with the aim of succeeding certain bishops and archbishops. Nor does the process seem to "avoid battles" at all. Indeed, reading the latest release from Reform shows that the battle spirit has hardly been this strong since the days of the Long Parliament.

I guess I like the idea that things do not go on in secret and behind closed doors. If the Bishop-elect of South Carolina was rejected (which incidentally, I thought was wrong) at least we knew who voted to support and who voted to oppose. Likewise, when the Bishop of New Hampshire was confirmed we people were on record about the choice.

In contrast, in the English system, it is all secret or done behind closed doors. That might seem to avoid conflict, but as I look at the Jeffrey John appointment and the current defiance of the bishops by some clergy and parishes, it does not avoid conflict that effectively.

Posted by John Bassett at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 2:33pm BST

But, NP, a bishop, sorry, "overseer" (I have such an image of Simon LeGree) should be a husband of one wife, then one who is husband of NO wife would be, in your words, not fit to be a bishop. I'm wondering, NP, should a bishop be defrocked if one of his children disobeys him, or does something illegal? And, in reading Timothy, I noted something. How many of the women in HTB wear their hair styled, or wear jewelry? Why have you not gotten them to stop or ejected them from the fellowship? Paul is quite clear on these things.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 3:54pm BST

NP - I know what Corinthians says. I want to know if, specifically on the basis of 1 Tim 3, you agree that Bishops have to be married. That's what The Bible says. Do you agree, yes or no?

Posted by JBE at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 5:50pm BST

David Walker outlines the current English process and in particular the local diocesan element in it. However, I think there is some scope for improvement (okay, there's scope for radical reform, but that's not going to happen right now!).

For example, the vacancy-in-see committee get to draw up a statement of diocesan needs. It might be thought appropriate for this to be debated by the diocesan synod before being adopted. The v-i-s committee could still have the final say, but endorsement by the synod would carry some weight.

The other 'national' members of the Crown Nominations Commission (or some of them) could be present at such a synodical debate, so that they have a direct taste of diocesan mood themselves. I'm not quite suggesting something along the lines of a Section 11 or 12 meeting (at which a PCC draws up its statements and then gets to talk to the parochial patron(s)), but those meetings are a useful mechanism.

Does the committee also draw up a person specification, or are they confined to a statement of diocesan needs?

There are some sensitivities here, because inevitably the requirements are likely to be in some sense a reaction to the previous incumbent and what some see as his deficiencies. But it ought to be possible to handle this sensitively in most cases.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 9:36pm BST

I don't usually agree with NP, but where in 1 Tim 3 does it say that bishops should be married? It says they should be the husband of "but one wife", meaning no more than one.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 10:07pm BST

Simon Kershaw reflects on the English system as I described it.

The reason why the v-i-s statement is not put before the Diocesan Synod is that it is felt that it needs to be a document where criticism of the previous diocesan's style, performance, priorities etc can be frank. This would be much less likely to happen in something to which the press had access. It's a judgement call as to whether frankness is better than wider democratic endorsement. I think I marginally favour the status quo but would be happy to work it the other way, in which case the secretaries would need to cover those areas more thoroughly.

At present the secretaries attend the main vacancy in see meeting to get a flavour of the diocese. They also carry out copious consultations and produce a report. That could be augmented by some visits from the CNC national members though it would add substantially to their time commitment, so might require CNC to work with two parallel teams.

From what I recall we included a person specification, which we used to measure all names when determining which persons were to be considered at the CNC meeting.

Posted by David Walker at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 10:16pm BST

Thanks David, I agree that there are some aspects that are better done in a confidential way. Perhaps there is scope for both, with most of the document being public and open to endorsement by the synod and some of it remaining confidential. The CNC can then see what differences there are between the two parts and draw their own conclusions.

In addition to the choice of bishops, mention might also be made of cathedral deans. I do wonder whether more responsibility ought to be given (in most cases) to the cathedral council, which is specifically there as a body that represents the various 'stakeholders' in the cathedrals. The paper mentions the councils, suggesting that the chairman and another member or two might have a role. But having created these councils why on earth should they not have a much greater role? I would still give the diocesan bishop something close to a veto, as he has now, but I wonder why it is thought helpful to create yet another body or committee when one is already to hand. (No doubt I shall make this point at the next meetings of both the cathedral council and the bishop's council!)

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 11:11pm BST

Erika - it says, "mias gunaikos andra" - husband to one wife. No buts, no onlys. That's what The Bible Says. And I'm waiting for NP and Reform and their fellow-travellers to take a stand for Scripture, the plain truth of the Bible rather than the interpretation they'd like to put on it and campaign for the removal, or at least the non-attendance at Lambeth of single bishops.

Posted by JBE at Friday, 19 October 2007 at 10:13am BST

""mias gunaikos andra" - husband to one wife."

This just goes to show how tricky it is to rely on English bible translations - thanks for that!

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 19 October 2007 at 3:27pm BST

NP trumpets his adherence to the "plain word of Scripture". Well that plain word requires a bishop to be husband of one wife. No more no less. NP's being hoisted on his own petard.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 19 October 2007 at 4:05pm BST

Simon Kershaw suggests an enhanced role for cathedral councils in the appointment of deans.

Form what I recall the intention of the proposals is that as far as posible the appointment of deans should parallel that of parochial clergy (especially as many deans are incumbents of a parish church cathedral). Hence to involve the cathedal council too much would be to go beyond what happens for parishes. I can't remember the details but it would seem reasonable to ask the Cathedral Council to produce the equivalent of a section 11 statement (or parish profile).

Posted by David Walker at Saturday, 20 October 2007 at 7:25am BST
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