Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Removing the fiction: wrangling bishops

Susannah Clark ViaMedia.News The Whole of Who We Are

Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News Between Meaning and Despair: A Generous Faith

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Questions about the commissioning of the Jay report

The Jay Response Group has produced a report, published today, for the July General Synod to consider. This is scheduled for debate on Monday 8 July. This document is 137 pages long. This synod will not be asked to make any decisions concerning the specific way forward, all of which are considered to require substantial further work.

Readers will recall an earlier post: Wilkinson-Jay Response Group survey findings. This survey is incorporated into GS 2364. Among its reported comments, there were a number which dealt with the issue of whether the Jay report was answering the right questions. See for example, pages 45 to 47 of the survey findings. But also in its Executive Summary, on page 4, summarising

Reaction to the Wilkinson and Jay Reports (emphasis added):

Reactions to these reports highlight intense difference of opinion between stakeholder groups. Strong feelings, including frustration, were expressed by many participants.

  • Many participants welcome the insight that these reports offer on issues surrounding safeguarding in the Church of England.
  • There is a suggestion that the two reports are incongruent; one being seen as promoting patience and careful consideration, while the other encourages urgency.
  • There are voices that call for the immediate implementation of these recommendations.
  • Other voices highlight perceived flaws in the methodology used in the Jay Report.
  • The governance role of Archbishops Council is frequently questioned, particularly surrounding the terms of reference set for the Jay Report and its financial cost.
  • There is a recognition that the Jay Report has damaged the morale of safeguarding staff.

These questions have been taken up in a letter sent earlier this week to the Archbishop of York, and others, by a number of General Synod members. A  PDF copy of that letter can be found here. This letter asks a number of detailed questions about the way in which the Jay report was commissioned. Obviously this letter was sent before today’s voluminous report was published.

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Pre-Synod press release

The usual pre-Synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today and is copied below. Synod papers are available here and links will be added to my earlier post here.

Services for same-sex couples, independence in safeguarding, dignity of disabled children: Synod papers published
20/06/2024

Outline proposals on the wider use of prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples are published today ahead of the annual summer meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod in York next month.

Possible arrangements for the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services alongside delegating episcopal ministry and a foundational work to provide a timetable towards a decision on clergy in same-sex civil marriages are also set out as part of broad package in outline proposals designed to help hold the Church together amid deep disagreements over questions of sexuality.

Prayers of Love and Faith are already in use as part of regular services in some churches such as a Sunday eucharist or evensong. But Synod will consider whether and how they might also be used as special services in their own right for a trial period as well as related questions.

The proposals are set out in papers detailing business for the upcoming meeting of Synod from July 5 to 9 at the University of York.

Legislation to be discussed includes first consideration of a measure to overhaul the Church of England’s national governance structures.

Synod will also have the opportunity to debate proposed models for greater independence in Church safeguarding. These follow independent reports by Prof Alexis Jay, the former chair of the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and the barrister Sarah Wilkinson.

And members will scrutinise legislation to create a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse.

There is also a private member’s motion calling for an inquiry into allegations of abuse and cover-up within the Soul Survivor network.

Synod will debate a motion brought by the Diocese of Liverpool on the human dignity of disabled children. The motion challenges the assumption that “bringing a disabled child into the world is a tragedy to be avoided” and calls for more support and advice for families during pregnancy and after birth.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process, said: “Working closely with people from across our different traditions and theological convictions over several months to develop these proposals I have been struck again and again by an enduring commitment to the unity of God’s church, even amid deep differences over questions of sexuality.

“There is much still to work out in detail but I believe these proposals provide an outline of how we might move forward together.

“It will require realism, give-and-take and a recognition that, as Christians, we hold a variety of views on these questions, all of which are held with integrity and all of which deserve respect.”

More information

Read papers and more information for the July 2024 General Synod Sessions in York

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Dean of Worcester

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office. There is more on the diocesan website.

Appointment of Dean of Worcester: 17 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Edwards, Interim Dean of Worcester, to be appointed as Dean of Worcester.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 17 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Edwards, Interim Dean of Worcester, to be appointed as Dean of Worcester in succession to The Very Reverend Peter Atkinson following his retirement.

Background

Stephen was educated at Lancaster University and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his title in the parish of Colwyn Bay, in the Diocese of St Asaph, Wales and in 1997 he was ordained Priest. From 1999 he served as Priest-in-Charge of Bryn-y-Maen.

In 2002, Stephen was appointed Priest-in-Charge at St Agnes Birch-in-Rusholme, with St John with St Cyprian Longsight, in the Diocese of Manchester. From 2012 he served as Team Rector of Wythenshawe and in 2013 he was additionally appointed Area Dean, Withington.

In 2019 Stephen was appointed Residentiary Canon at Worcester Cathedral and he took up his current role as Interim Dean in 2023.

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Opinion – 15 June 2024

Helen King sharedconversations Transparency, trust and bishops

Neil Elliot NumbersMatter From Creation to Revelation: why seven is the most special number

Philip North Church Times It is time for a new deal for underpaid clergy
“A culture of low remuneration and overwork can be addressed only by more funding at a national level”

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Transparency of the work of the House of Bishops

One of the papers just released for next month’s meeting of the General Sunod of the Church of England is this one. As a GS Misc paper it is provided for information and not for debate.

  • Transparency of the work of the House of Bishops (GS Misc 1387)

This is an interim report from the House of Bishops Transparency Group. There are four recommendations, listed below, which the covering page states have been approved by the House.

Recommendation 1:
Minutes of all meetings of the House of Bishops should be published on the relevant section of the Church of England website once they have been approved at the subsequent meeting. These should be minutes rather than transcripts.

Recommendation 2:
The House of Bishops will adopt a “maximum transparency” approach so that the analysis and information that the House has had to make decisions will be made available. In particular formal legal advice from the Legal Office or written advice from the Faith and Order Commission and other such groups should be provided to the General Synod as an annex to the relevant GS paper. The agenda for each House of Bishops meeting will be published with the circulation of papers. Papers to the House of Bishops should continue not to be published.

Recommendation 3:
The House of Bishops should continue to meet without public attendance, and should amend its standing orders to be honest that it is doing so, removing the fiction of public participation in Standing Order 13.

Recommendation 4:
The House of Bishops will propose changes to Canon H 3 and potentially other legislation to provide for acting diocesan bishops to vote at meetings of the House and General Synod. In advance of that chairs might ask acting diocesan bishops informally to indicate how they would have voted were they eligible to vote.

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July 2024 General Synod – Papers

Updated 20 June to include a full list of papers

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in York from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 July. A few of the papers, listed below the fold, are now available online. I will update the list when more papers are released next week.

(more…)

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House of Bishops Meeting – June 2024

The Church of England’s House of Bishops met today and issued the following brief press release.

House of Bishops Meeting – June 2024
12/06/2024

The House of Bishops met in London on June 12.

The bishops heard updates on the developing proposals from the Living in Love and Faith Programme Board and working groups which represent a variety of theological convictions, traditions and views on sexuality and marriage.

Following a wide-ranging debate, the House of Bishops voted clearly in favour of the proposals being explored further and discussed by Synod which meets in York next month.

Earlier in the day the full College of Bishops met and heard directly from members of the LLF working groups who reflected a strong desire from across the range of views to remain together as one church despite differences.

The rather fuller Actions & Decisions from two earlier meetings of the House are now available online.

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Opinion – 12 June 2024

Catherine Bennett The Observer Your sermons on integrity are a bit rich, archbishop, given your faith in Paula Vennells

Richard Peers Oikodomeo The Five Guiding Principles and LLF – why the Church of England is immoral

Giles Fraser Save the Parish Only chaos can redeem the Church

Christopher Cocksworth The Living Church Sent to Coventry, Called to Windsor

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Opinion – 8 June 2024

David Monteith ViaMedia.News PRIDE: More than Sparkling Spandex

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church To Jay or not to Jay, that is the Question for C/E Safeguarding

Paul Middleton ViaMedia.News Church of Scotland Welcomes Trans Members and Ministers

Martyn Snow Church of England Newspaper LLF: unity matters – it really matters

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Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich

Press release from 10 Downing Street. Further information from Southwark diocese.

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Alastair Cutting, Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich, for nomination to the Suffragan See of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich: 6 June 2024

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 6 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Venerable Alastair Cutting, Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich, for nomination to the Suffragan See of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark in succession to the Right Reverend Karowei Dorgu following his untimely death.

Background

Alastair was educated at Westhill College, Birmingham University, trained for ministry at St. John’s, Nottingham, and gained a Masters at Heythrop College, London University. He served his title at All Saints Woodlands, Doncaster, in the Diocese of Sheffield and was ordained priest in 1988. He served as Assistant Curate at Wadsley from 1989 and in 1991 he was appointed Chaplain to The Nave Arts Centre and the Town Centre, Uxbridge, in the Diocese of London.

In 1996, Alastair was appointed Vicar of Copthorne, West Sussex, in the Diocese of Chichester, and from 2010 he served as Vicar of Henfield and Rector of Shermanbury and Woodmancote. He was elected twice to General Synod, in Chichester and Southwark Dioceses, and twice also elected as ProProlocutor of the House of Clergy.

Alastair has served in his current role as Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich in the Diocese of Southwark since 2013.

 

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Dean of Lichfield

Press release from 10 Downing Street. And Lichfield Cathedral has “First Female Dean of Lichfield Appointed”.

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Janet Elizabeth McFarlane, Interim Dean of Lichfield and an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield, for appointment as Dean of Lichfield.

Appointment of Dean of Lichfield: 5 June 2024

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 5 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Janet Elizabeth McFarlane, Interim Dean of Lichfield and an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield, for appointment as Dean of Lichfield, in succession to The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, following his retirement.

Background

Janet (known as Jan) was educated at Sheffield University, and trained for the ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. She served her title in the Stafford Team Ministry, in the Diocese of Lichfield and was ordained priest in 1994. She became Chaplain of Ely Cathedral in 1996, before being appointed as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Norwich in 1999. Between 2001 and 2009, Jan served additionally as Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich. In 2009, she was appointed Archdeacon of Norwich, whilst remaining Director of Communications for the Diocese.

In 2016, Jan was appointed Suffragan Bishop of Repton, in the Diocese of Derby, and has been the non-stipendiary Canon Custos at Lichfield Cathedral and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lichfield since retiring as Bishop of Repton in 2020. She has been Interim Dean for the last year.

 

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Church Commissioners report for 2023

The Church Commissioners issued their report for 2023 yesterday alongwith a press release, which is copied below.

Church Commissioners for England endowment fund delivers 4.1% return in 2023
03/06/2024

The Church Commissioners for England, which manages the Church of England’s endowment fund, delivered a 4.1% return in 2023, marking the fifteenth year of positive returns, with the fund valued at £10.4bn at the end of 2023.

“Managing the endowment fund in a way that generates sustainable funding to support the mission and ministry of the Church of England, now and for the long-term, is our core purpose – and 2023 was another successful year with that in mind,” said Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner. “In 2023, in addition to paying pensions of £120.6m, we made £223m in charitable expenditure, up 19.4% from £186.8m in 2022, with more than two-thirds of that going towards supporting dioceses and, through them, local churches.”

The in-perpetuity endowment fund delivers long-term financial support for the Church’s ministry, contributing around 20% towards the total annual running costs of the Church of England.

The Church Commissioners has provided the Church with over £3.5bn in funding since 2009, with £1.2bn to be distributed during the current 2023-2025 triennium – a 30% increase on the previous triennium, thanks in large part to the excellent investment returns generated by the Commissioners’ Investment team. The fund has delivered positive returns while building a reputation as a global leader in responsible investment.

The annual report is available for download here.

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Bishop of Exeter

Press release from 10 Downing Street. Further information on the Exeter diocesan site “New Bishop of Exeter announced on Devon Day”. St Edmundsbury & Ipswich has this report.

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Mike Harrison, Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, for election as Bishop of Exeter.

Appointment of Bishop of Exeter: 4 June 2024

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 4 June 2024

The King has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Mike Harrison, Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, for election as Bishop of Exeter, in succession to The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, following his retirement.

Background

Mike’s undergraduate studies were in Mathematics & Statistics at Selwyn College, Cambridge, after which he worked as both a Management Consultant and a Social Worker in London. He trained for ministry at Oxford and served as Assistant Curate at St Anne and All Saints, South Lambeth in the Southwark Diocese for four years. During this time he studied for a PhD in Doctrine at King’s College, London University. Mike went on to be Chaplain at Bradford University and Bradford and Ilkley Community College, where he was also Diocesan World Development Advisor, and completed an MA in International Development Studies at Bradford University. From 1998 he was Vicar of Holy Trinity, Eltham in the Diocese of Southwark, also serving as Rural Dean of Eltham and Mottingham. He moved to Leicester Diocese in 2006 as Director of Mission and Ministry.

In 2016, Mike took up his current role as Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich with a keen focus on mission & evangelism, discipleship, engaging children & young people and cultivating vocations.

Mike is married to Rachel, an Occupational Therapist and they have four adult children. He is a passionate supporter of Bolton Wanderers (having been born in Bolton) and (not unrelatedly) has an interest in live comedy, as well as being a beekeeper and baker of cakes.

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Wilkinson-Jay Response Group survey findings

The Church Times reports on a survey commissioned by the Jay Response Group but as yet not published by them.

Survey uncovers reservations about outsourcing church safeguarding work

MOST bishops and safeguarding professionals in the C of E oppose the outsourcing of church safeguarding work to an independent body, according to the results of a survey commissioned this spring.

The Church Times has obtained the unpublished results of a survey on the future of church safeguarding, which was commissioned in March (News, 25 March). The findings from the survey are due to form part of a paper which will be debated at General Synod in July.

The 2003 responses show that — while there is strong support for the creation of a body that would provide independent scrutiny of safeguarding — Professor Alexis Jay’s chief recommendation, outlined in her report (News, 21 February), that day-to-day safeguarding work should be completely handed over to another independent body, has not found widespread support….

The full text of the survey report is available here: Wilkinson-Jay Initial Survey Research Paper.

The following graphs summarise the most important findings, namely that support for the creation of “Charity A” is lower among both bishops and those currently employed in church safeguarding work than it is among either those who are survivors of abuse and their advocates,  or those who are ordinary church members.

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Opinion – 1 June 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The God I Never Believed In

Gavin Drake Church Abuse Who are Ecclesiastical? And why does it matter?

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times Preacher who triggered a riot
“On the tercentenary of the death of Henry Sacheverell, Fergus Butler-Gallie revisits the clergyman’s life and pulpit polemics”

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Opinion – 25 May 2024

Ian Paul Psephizo Once more: whither the Church of England?

Gavin Drake Church Abuse

Penelope Doe ViaMedia.News Queering the Church: The Theological and Ecclesial Potential of Failure

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Diocese of Argyll & The Isles elects new Bishop

The Rev David Railton was yesterday elected to be the next Bishop of Argyll and the Isles in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Details are in a press release, copied below.

Diocese of Argyll & The Isles elects new Bishop
May 21, 2024

A new Bishop has been chosen in the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, with the Rev David Railton elected to the position that has been vacant since the death of Bishop Keith Riglin in September 2023.

Mr Railton accepted the post following a vote of the Electoral Synod, held today in Oban. He becomes Bishop-Elect, and a Consecration is expected be arranged during the next three months.

The current Rector of the linked charges of Holy Trinity in Dunoon and St Paul’s in Rothesay becomes the second consecutive Rector from those charges to become a Bishop, following the election of Bishop Andrew Swift in Brechin in 2018.

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Weekly attendance at Church of England services in 2023

Press release from the Church of England

Weekly Church attendance up five per cent in third year of consecutive growth
20/05/2024

Average weekly attendance at Church of England services rose by almost five per cent in 2023 – the third year of consecutive growth, preliminary figures show.

Meanwhile weekly attendance by children was up by almost six per cent last year, according to an early snapshot of the annual Statistics for Mission findings.

While total attendance is still below 2019 levels, the last year before the Covid-19 lockdowns, the analysis suggests in-person attendance is drawing closer to the pre-pandemic trend.

In 2021 all-age Sunday attendance was 22.3 per cent below the projected pre-pandemic trend, but the new figures reveal that the gap had narrowed to 6.7 per cent last year.

All-age weekly attendance rose to within 8.3 per cent of the trend last year, compared with 24.1 per cent in 2021.

(more…)

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LLF: proposals made for same-sex prayers and marriage

Francis Martin at the Church Times has a report on what happeed last weekend in the LLF group discussions:
Same-sex prayers and marriage: latest Love and Faith proposals considered by the Bishops.

See previous article for the official report on what happened at the House of Bishops meeting on Thursday.

The Church of England Evangelical Council has published two items:

John Dunnett says:

There’s a lot of water going under the Living in Love and Faith Bridge right now, including today, the 16th of May, a discussion at the House of Bishops. Whilst we do not know what they will conclude and what therefore will be brought to General Synod in July, it is clear that two things are going to happen. One, that the so-called ‘standalone services’ for blessings of same-sex relationships will be made possible.

And secondly, that, probably by the removal of ‘so-called’ discipline, that clergy in some dioceses are going to be able to marry their same-sex partners. Maybe as soon as this autumn. These are big changes, and I think it’s fairly clear that they are indeed indicative of a change of doctrine…

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