Comments: Upset in Tunbridge Wells

Why do the silly views of this man matter? Who is he anyway? By paying him attention TA is implying his views are worth discussing. Ignore him and he might go away.

Posted by FrDavidH at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 8:12pm GMT

Well if you ask me, he seems to be obsessed with sex and other people getting it, or not. Oh dear.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 8:38pm GMT

“Dr Sanlon is not happy with the current state of the Church of England.” Understatement of TA editorial! He takes a swipe at virtually all elements of the CofE, Bishops (of course) and any compromised (in his view) aspect he can find. I always react negatively when commentators take a swipe at the HTB network, because they of all elements of the CofE seem to be one of the few that are really doing ‘the stuff.’ Dr Sadlon obviously wants all to be constantly reminded of his view of homosexual acts. No concept of covenant faithfulness in Tunbridge Wells presumably. And if you have the time (no don’t bother) his recent exposition of 1 Peter 3:18-22 was about as heartless and discouraging as it comes. Christians in exile. Hard to see this as missional in the third millennium. He did however find time in the sermon to say that Calvin took a different line from him on a couple of difficult verses, but he (Calvin) basically got it right. Arrogance personified. And as for his swipe at the sexuality of a DDO in Southwark, what has that got to do with the price of eggs? That God I won’t need to go and see Dr Sadlon to discuss the call of God on my life. This is doctrinal and ethical intransigence of a high order, the lack of empathy and inhumanity that Jesus warned against.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 8:58pm GMT

The Book of Ezekiel is a prophesy against the Shepherds of Israel, a warning that their traditions are not pleasing to God, and an injunction to consider the impact on the sick and broken; however, somehow, Dr Scanlon believes the Book of Ezekiel supports the traditions of the modern-day Shepherds as they deal harshly with the vulnerable and marginalised.

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:21pm GMT

As someone who isn't an Anglican in my heart, but a fellow-traveller, this seems like a rum deal.

The injunction to "Choose this day whom you will serve" seems apposite. As does Christ's observation that no one can serve two masters.

I don't know if he draws a stipend from one church whilst also ministering to a church not in communion with it, but that is the sense of what's reported here. Is that an honest way to carry on?

Posted by Andrew at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:23pm GMT

You couldn't make it up!

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:24pm GMT

Perhaps I lack a sense of humor, but I don't see either the alleged "problem" - or anything at all amusing in the comment by the Beaker person. Are people in Tunbridge Wells somehow excluded from any right to differ from the cosy consensus down at the BBC?

Or is this Tunbridge Wells an English thing?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:30pm GMT

'They may use a bit of sheep dip. Whitewash? While sitting on a a sheep with fatal structural flaws? What kind of shepherds are these?'

And what kind of shepherds ?

Well said Archdruid Eileen !

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:37pm GMT

Alan Marsh wrote: "Or is this Tunbridge Wells an English thing?"

It is indeed a quintessentially English (as opposed to British) thing. See the article in Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disgusted_of_Tunbridge_Wells

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 8:39am GMT

Alan Marsh, I'm guessing you don't live in England? Tunbridge Wells has for some decades been a byword for people who write 'green ink letters' grumbling about this or that. In fact there used to be a BBC programme called 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells'. TW is a genteel Georgian spa town in Kent, which may be the reason.

The 'problem', as Andrew has said above, is that Sanlon is simultaneously leading a church within the Church of England, and a rebel breakaway church. Difficult to see how this can be done with any integrity. Clergy might serve 2 parishes in the same town which are part of the same team - but 2 churches which aren't part of the same Communion? I'm surprised Sanlon isn't being disciplined.

Posted by Janet Fife at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 8:55am GMT

"Sanlon is simultaneously leading a church within the Church of England, and a rebel breakaway church"

In a sane world, such behaviour would be grounds for termination. It says a lot about the CofE that it doesn't have either the will or the capability to sack people for actions obviously against the interests of the organisations.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 3:34pm GMT

Have I understood rightly that Peter Sanlon is both a priest in the established Church of England, and also a minister in the Free Church of England? Can someone with a better understanding of canon law/clergy discipline explain how on earth this is possible? I ask this as a genuine question, not a rhetorical point!

(Could a parish priest in the Church of England simultaneously function as a priest for a church plant in England affiliated to the American Episcopal Church, for example?)

Posted by Revd Dr Charles Clapham at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 5:51pm GMT

And we haven't heard much about the bishop-curate of Jesmond.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 6:52pm GMT

What is the local bishop doing about this cleric who is encouraging schismatic breakaway from the national church? Surely there is some mechanism in the Church of England to deal with double-dippers - and especially when they do not contribute to the financial burden of the benefits they enjoy at the expense of the established Church - while yet being employed in the encouragement of schism?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 8:44pm GMT

The CofE recognizes the validity of Free Church orders and ministry. Doesn't that create/permit this crazy situation where a priest can serve a church of each denomination -- in the same town!!!

Posted by Richard at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 8:58pm GMT

When I see the word 'revisionist' used by a Conservative Evangelical, as in Dr Sanlon's piece, I sigh deeply.It is a rhetorical device to do rwo things: 1) to demonise those who interpret the Bible differently and 2) to suggest that the user of the term has the only right interpretation, that this is orthodox and that this is what the Church has always believed since the Bible was committed to writing. In fact there are several legitimate interpretations of key passages and the definition of what is or is not orthodox has changed over the years. It has never been fixed. For example, the formulation of the original 42 Articles of Religion, now 39, was scarcely uncontroversial.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 10:54pm GMT

They may use a bit of sheep dip. Whitewash? While sitting on a a sheep with fatal structural flaws? What kind of shepherds are these?'

And what kind of shepherds ?

Well said Archdruid Eileen !

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 9:37pm

CORRECTION ! -- I meant to write

'and what kind of SHEEP ?!'
apologies

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Monday, 26 February 2018 at 11:34pm GMT

"Doesn't that create/permit this crazy situation where a priest can serve a church of each denomination -- in the same town!!!"

No more than it permits a priest to serve in the Roman Catholic Church and CofE concurrently.

Posted by Geoff McL. at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 4:52am GMT

A former vicar of Tunbridge Wells left the Church of England because it's too liberal. Now in the RC ministry, he spends a lot of his time critising his new denomination for being too liberal. Perhaps he could give one of Mr Sanlon's churches a try.

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 9:51am GMT

I believe CofE priests can hold FCE licences also.
That is what enables this.
There are others who do this for different reasons.

Posted by Rich at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 1:18pm GMT

Like Janet Fife and Interested Observer, I am incredulous that this situation has been allowed to continue and, like Perry Butler, I see worrying parallels with 'Bishop'Pryke in Jesmond.

In both cases an apparently blatant breach of what we have assumed to be canon law has been allowed to continue without disciplinary action. Is this because canon law does not in fact offer a clear and irrefutable way of dealing with it (in which case why is a proposal to change this not already before General Synod?) or is it because the ABC is so much a prisoner of his constituency that he has instructed the bishops of All England not to proceed against schismatic Evangelicals like these two?

Like Charles Clapham, I would like to hear from an expert on canon law and clergy discipline what options are available.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 1:45pm GMT

Being an old grouch these days, I find myself saying "Seen it all before - 50 years ago". In those days it was a handful of very extreme Anglo-Catholics who scandalised the faithful. Some readers may remember Dr Eric Mascall's comment in his first book of verse, "Pi in the High" which I will not copy as I'm sure it's still in copyright. However, my old colleague Gordon Reid in far off Philadelphia was less wary so I offer a link to his website https://saintclementsblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/pi-in-the-high/
It really is remarkable how close is the resemblance to todays' Sanlons and Prykes. Maybe someone would like to update Mascall's verse?

Posted by cryptogram at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 4:53pm GMT

I would think that Canon Law does offer some help. B43 is long and detailed and others here may want to study it. It is concerned with churches outside the parish and a number of points (so not applicable in the Tonbridge case) but does give guidance at other points. However, C28 says:
"1. No minister holding ecclesiastical office shall engage in trade or any other occupation in such manner as to affect the performance of the duties of his office, except so far as he be authorized so to do under the statutory provisions in this behalf for the time being in force or he have a licence so to do granted by the bishop of the diocese."

And C26 may apply:
"2. A clerk in Holy Orders shall not give himself to such occupations, habits, or recreations as do not befit his sacred calling, or may be detrimental to the performance of the duties of his office, or tend to be a just cause of offence to others; and at all times he shall be diligent to frame and fashion his life and that of his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make himself and them, as much as in him lies, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ.".

Posted by Charles Read at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 5:01pm GMT

This doesn't require canon law. This is basic, duty-of-loyalty stuff.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 6:54pm GMT

Thank you, Charles. If that's the best that Canon law can offer, then it does all seem a bit tenuous, based on other trades and occupations, and capable of keeping a large team of ecclesiastical lawyers occupied until the crack of doom. No wonder the bishops haven't acted!
Perhaps the case of a licensed CoE minister simultaneously practising as a bishop or minister of another denomination not in communion with the CoE seemed so preposterous and unlikely to happen that no provision was made to directly counter it.
Well, now that it has happened, more than once, it's time to change the law.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 10:02pm GMT

Possibly a breach of the oath of canonical obedience or some other aspect of licensing or induction? Or breach of the ordinal?

Posted by Charles Clapham at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 10:39pm GMT

I think one has to conclude that the local Bishop is (rightly or wrongly) reluctant to act, rather than there is no sound legal basis for acting.

Posted by Charles Clapham at Tuesday, 27 February 2018 at 10:43pm GMT

There have certainly been cases where a full time stipendiary incumbent was found out doing another full time job (e.g. as a schoolteacher) and was persuaded to go NSM / SSM on the basis that they were being paid to be the Rector of St Bertha's. I know a stipend is not a salary, but the real issue here is of morality - is it honest to take a stipend and only do half the work / give half the time?

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 12:00am GMT

If as the Times of Tunbridge Wells says the congregation is under 20 at St Marks perhaps Dr Sanlon needs another church to fill in the time.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 8:15am GMT

Thank you Charles for your very helpful comments re Canon Law. However, my question is, do we know that Dr. Sanlon's Bishop or Archdeacon hasn't intervened in some way? I would imagine that any intervention would be deemed as confidential so would not be in the public domain until any 'judgement' demanded, for example, relinquishment of one post or the other, should that be the case. I don't think we can assume that nothing is happening. Or do others know something I don't?

Posted by Anne at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 9:27am GMT

The Times is incorrect. I believe the congregation is at least 100. Suspect the reporter went to tbe 8am !

Posted by Rowland at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 10:34am GMT

"I think one has to conclude that the local Bishop is (rightly or wrongly) reluctant to act, rather than there is no sound legal basis for acting."

I don't think we can conclude that at all...

Posted by Matt at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 1:40pm GMT

At once C of E and Free C of E? How unremarkable. If you want to go big, why not be both an Anglican Priest and a Druid.

Check out this interview with Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck:


"I am a 'ChristoPagan' ... I practice magic, study the runes, and talk to trees and fairies; ...and I am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. AND I'm an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. For 15 years I've preached and pastored churches in my diocese. I'm a regional dean, and I train other priests, deacons, and lay ministers."


http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/not-doing-religion-by-the-book-1.4547318/jesus-christ-is-my-chief-druid-meet-the-anglican-priest-who-is-also-a-pagan-1.454910

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 3:18pm GMT

Has anyone noticed this parallel?


The Church Times of 18th February 2018 contained a letter from the Revd J. Barber in which he states '... nine years ago I was asked to help out in a local Methodist circuit, as there were not enough preachers to cover all services. I was therefore made an associate Methodist minister and have served in five chapels'.

Mr Barber was retired when he 'was made an associate Methodist minister' but nevertheless remains a priest of the CofE in good standing, having PTO in the Diocese of Salisbury.

Dual licensed there also.

That's the problem.
Want to shut that down?

Posted by Richard at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 5:31pm GMT

Good to hear the reporter got up for the 8 o'clock! It would be interesting to know more about the congregation as it seems Dr Sanlon has alienated many of the regulars. Tunbridge Wells is very well provided with evangelical parish churches..is his congregation "new Christians" or" sheep moving to different pens" ?

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 28 February 2018 at 5:45pm GMT

Richard - your Methodist parallel does not hold good. Preaching occasionally on a Methodist circuit is not in the same league as setting up a whole new church in another denomination. Like many others, I have done the former (about once a month, but I was not an incumbent at the time) and it can be seen positively as strengthening ecumenical links as both churches thrive. The Tunbridge case hardly enables the Anglican church to thrive!

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 1 March 2018 at 10:11am GMT

The Free Church of England ( about 600 individuals ) is split btween a high church bishop ( former Cof E vicar) , John Fenwick and traditional Protestant element resisting that trend...both can't afford the legal fees to sue each other for property.

Posted by robert williams at Friday, 2 March 2018 at 9:10am GMT

"If you want to go big, why not be both an Anglican Priest and a Druid."

There was a case several years ago of a TEC priest (Anne Holmes Redding) who also became a Muslim. She claimed that she could be fully both at the same time.

Her bishop disagreed and she was ultimately deposed (2009).

Posted by dr.primrose at Friday, 2 March 2018 at 4:35pm GMT

"She claimed that she could be fully both at the same time."

Well, as a lecturer, it's always nice to have a practical example to motivate some theoretical material. I guess that even in comparative religion they'd like that: along comes someone willing to provide it.

Someone has edited Wikipedia recently to tone it down, but the cached version you get when googling for her name starts "Anne Holmes Redding (born October 22, 1951) is a heretic and former Episcopal priest"


Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 2 March 2018 at 6:40pm GMT

Re: Interested Observer, "I guess that even in comparative religion they'd like that..." I'm doubtful. And, in terms of inter-faith dialogue it is not a helpful contribution.

On a couple of occasions I have had the privilege to lead worship in United Church of Canada (Presbyterian/Methodist/Congregational) pastoral charges; but did so as a licensed Anglican Church of Canada cleric within the clear boundaries of an ecumenical arrangement,with permission from the UCC session, under terms that fostered ecumenical ties.

I'm also a member of the progressive Canadian Association of Baptist Freedoms; but I am a "friendly member" on the clear understanding that my membership is an ecumenical gesture as a credentialed Anglican i.e. I'm not a Baptist.

Claiming unilaterally to belong to two different faiths at the same time decreases rather than increases inter-faith dialogue and witness, I should think.


Frankly, I'd never heard of the Free C of E until reading the articles posted here. However,the arrangement described seems rather odd. We have had several problems here with the confusion created by Anglican Catholic Church clergy showing up at institutions while leading folks to believe they are just 'Anglican'.

On the other hand, here in Canada at last count four of our bishops have left the Canadian Church upon retirement and joined Anglican Network in Canada. Bishops no less! Go figure.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 2 March 2018 at 11:57pm GMT
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