The Church of England has published two sets of statistics today.
There is an accompanying press release, Church engages millions through apps and social media, which concentrates on the digital report. It is copied below the fold.3 Comments
Nic Tall is Election Campaign Coordinator for the IC and partners’ 2020 Synod Campaign. Inclusive Church has published this article by him: 2020 Synod Elections: Shaping the future of the Church of England.
Should same sex couples be able to marry in church? How can the church respond to the climate emergency? How do we equip the church for the challenges of mission and ministry in the 21st Century? Do you ever find yourself asking these questions? And do you ever wonder who in the church has the job of answering them?
In the Church of England the big questions of the day are debated by the General Synod. It can seem like a remote body, with little effect at parish level and no place for ordinary clergy and churchgoers, but that is a common misperception. Many significant changes in how local churches operate come from decisions in General Synod, and the policies of the national church are shaped and decided in Synod. Next year will see full elections for the next five year term of the General Synod, and whoever is elected will have a voice in how the church grapples with the big issues and shape its future.
Could you serve on General Synod? Maybe you know someone you could encourage to stand for election. The Church needs a diverse range of people on Synod, different ages, backgrounds and experience to represent the full breadth of the Church. Inclusive Church is leading a campaign to organise for the 2020 elections, working in partnership with other inclusive organisations across the life of the church. We have just launched our main campaign leaflet, saying what will be happening and how you can be involved. Please download it here, and share it far and wide among people you know in the church who have inclusive values…
The campaign leaflet, Planning for the 2020 Elections to the General Synod, contains more detailed information:
Who is organising the Inclusive Synod Campaign?
This campaign is being organised by a coalition of key organisations from across the full breadth of traditions in the Church of England – evangelical, catholic, liberal. We represent the broad mainstream of the Church, those who want our national Church to be for everyone, regardless of gender, age, disability, tradition, race, socio-economic background or sexuality. Members include Inclusive Church, WATCH, One Body One Faith, Ozanne Foundation, Affirming Catholicism, Accepting Evangelicals, Modern Church, the Society of Catholic Priests, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the C of E, the Progressive Christianity Network and Thinking Anglicans. We are the only campaign for Synod organising across the whole of the Church…
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Loretta Minghella gave this talk (a 31 minute audio) at the WATCH AGM earlier this month.1 Comment
Two news articles about the dispute concerning the Dean, Martyn Percy, have appeared on the same day. Each contains new information, but there is surprisingly little overlap. Do read both articles all the way through. (Warning: the FT piece is very long.)
Church Times Christ Church continues to struggle to find peace
A NEW row is brewing in Christ Church, Oxford, despite the exoneration of the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy (News, 30 August). The Cathedral Chapter has now sought its own legal advice about the actions of a group of senior dons who accused the Dean of “immoral, scandalous, and disgraceful behaviour” (News, 5 November 2018).
As a consequence, there are reports that members of the Chapter have, in turn, been harassed and threatened with legal action. On Wednesday, Dr Percy declined to comment.
The small group of dons used an estimated £1.6 million of college funds to pursue the Dean, who is also Head of House (i.e. Master of the college) after he raised questions about governance and pay scales, including his own. He was cleared of all charges in August, in an internal inquiry led by Sir Andrew Smith, who produced a judgment of more than 100 pages. It is this document that is at the centre of the new row…
Financial Times Scheming spires: trouble at Oxford’s Christ Church
Update: this second article, which was available freely earlier today, has now gone behind a paywall. I am sorry about the inconvenience. See comments below about possible ways around this.31 Comments
The Church Times has a news report today (which covers other episcopal Brexit responses too) This is how to honour the referendum: Welby clarifies Bishops’ statement. In it the Archbishop of Canterbury makes a fairly lengthy response to last week’s leader column. Do read it all.35 Comments
Channel Islands Commission publishes recommendations
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England has published its final report, including a recommendation for Episcopal oversight of the Islands to be transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury.35 Comments
The Oxford bishops write:
We may be about to exit the European Union and begin a new relationship with our European neighbours and with the world. +Steven, +Alan, +Colin and Bishop-elect Olivia have written a joint letter to every church, school and chaplaincy in the Diocese of Oxford reminding us all of the important roles that our churches and schools hold at this time. The bishops are encouraging parishioners across the diocese to read the letter too: “Don’t underestimate what we can achieve if every church, chaplaincy and school does something and if every Christian disciple takes some action, however small”.
Read the whole letter here. A Christian response to Brexit.
And there are further resources here.26 Comments
Members of the Church of England General Synod have been sent the following email inviting questions for answer next month. As noted written answers will be given (and published); ie no supplementary questions will be possible.
Dear Synod members,
Mindful of the exceptionally high number of questions in February and July, the Business Committee has decided to use its powers under Standing Order 117(1) to give members the opportunity to submit questions for written answer between groups of sessions. This is a process last used in 2008.
The deadline is 12.00 on Friday, 8 November. Please send the questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers will be published on www.churchofengland.org no later than Monday, 25 November.
Please also note that under SO 112(2), members can ask up to two questions, which should be addressed to one of the bodies accountable to the General Synod listed in SO 112(1).
Thank you very much.
Synod Support1 Comment
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Today’s Church Times carries three items relating to the Church of England bishops’ intervention in the Brexit debate.
There is a news story, Bishops defend statement in which they endorse Brexit
and there is the Press column Press: Bishops back Brexit — but no one reports it.
But more significantly there is a very long leader article, which is highly critical of the statement: The Bishops’ misplaced respect. Do read the whole of this critique, which starts out:
IT WAS a very Anglican betrayal. No Gove-like rush of blood to the head, stolid Johnsonian plotting, or Momentum bullying. Just a throwaway line at the start of the College of Bishops’ statement on the tenor of political discourse. It was a clearing of the throat, a testing of the microphone. “In writing, we affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured.”
All three parts of this sentence deserve a closer look…
There are also some Letters to the Editor.37 Comments
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Sarah Mullaly, the Bishop of London, preached this sermon at the annual Judges Service in Westminster Abbey yesterday.
“Justice in the Bible has less to do with the conviction of the guilty and more to do with the care of the innocent.”
The Reverend Al Barrett is the incumbent of Hodge Hill Church – a partnership between St Philip & St James (Church of England – Birmingham Diocese) and Hodge Hill United Reformed Church. He blogs regularly at This estate we’re in and he has written this: “Not peace, but a sword”: a response to the bishops’ statement.
This is quite a long analysis and deserves to be read in full He starts out this way:
There is, I realise, something slightly perverse about criticising a unanimous statement, from the Church of England’s bishops, attempting to speak with urgency into a time of profound national division. I also realise it’s not the first time I’ve responded publicly, and critically, to a statement made by my denomination’s senior leadership at a moment of political ‘crisis’. I’m sure there are words for people like me, and ‘irritant’ is probably the politest of them.
But these are indeed critical moments in our national life, and thankfully our bishops rarely presume to have ‘the last word’ in such moments. With whatever authority they seek to speak, their interventions are invitations (implicit or explicit) to further reflection and conversation – and it is to that implicit invitation that I cannot help but respond – with some ‘wonderings’ that can claim no more authority than the bishops’ statement, and certainly no more claim to be ‘the last word’ of a vital ongoing conversation.
I can only imagine the anguished discussions, in person, on the phone, by email, between the bishops in the process of agreeing this unanimous statement. The felt importance of presenting a ‘united front’, a single message – when they will no doubt have, among themselves, had passionate disagreements about the content, the tone, and even whether they should be saying anything public at all. I feel for them in those struggles. None of this is easy. To say anything, as much as to say nothing, is risky, costly, weighty in its responsibility…
And here is his concluding paragraph:
…Here, then, is the dilemma confronting the Church of England, in a nutshell: how do we ‘own up’ with penitent honesty to our own profoundly imbalanced and compromised social location and institutional reality (dominated by White, upper-/middle-class men), while seeking complex solidarities with diverse and marginalized ‘others’ who present challenges to both the church and wider society, and courageously challenging the powers-that-be where power is both concentrated and abused? The answer must, surely, include a willingness to give up – or be stripped of – most of the traces of institutional power that the Church of England, especially, continues to benefit from – even that of presuming to speak into political debate with some kind of ‘authoritative voice’. It must also, equally certainly, include an unshakeable commitment to listen acutely, attentively, enduringly, and with a radical receptivity, to the many within, and beyond the Church who are not White, or not middle-class, or not male, in ways that challenge and change us, to our very DNA. Only in the context of that ongoing commitment to listening, repentance and change can we humbly and courageously seek to ‘speak truth to power’.
But do, please, read the whole thing.19 Comments
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Church Times Leader Under judgment1 Comment
Updated to add press reports and comment
Press release from the Church of England
Bishops call for respect on all sides amid Brexit debate
The bishops of the Church of England have issued a call for respect on all sides amid growing acrimony over the debate on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the Church of England’s College of Bishops calls for a new tone of listening and respect in debates and describes the use of language in some cases as “unacceptable”.
It calls for the 2016 referendum to be honoured and for the rule of law and impartiality of the courts to be upheld.
It adds: “We should speak to others with respect. And we should also listen. We should do this especially with the poor, with the marginalised, and with those whose voices are often not heard in our national conversation.
“We should not denigrate, patronise or ignore the honest views of fellow citizens, but seek to respect their opinions, their participation in society, and their votes.”
The full statement reads as follows:
As Bishops of the Church of England, we make this statement conscious of the great challenges to our nations and to their leaders. In writing, we affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured.
In the last few days, the use of language, both in debates and outside Parliament, has been unacceptable.
We should speak to others with respect. And we should also listen. We should do this especially with the poor, with the marginalised, and with those whose voices are often not heard in our national conversation. We should not denigrate, patronise or ignore the honest views of fellow citizens, but seek to respect their opinions, their participation in society, and their votes.
The teachings of Jesus Christ call for us to be generous and humble servants; virtues which are for all leaders, whatever their faith.
We call on politicians to adhere rigorously to the rule of law and on all to respect and uphold the impartiality of the courts and our judiciary.
Our concern is also for the structure and the constitution of the United Kingdom. To use the words of Jesus, we must renew the structures that enable us to “love one another”. Changes to our principles and values of government, if necessary, should be through careful planning and consultation.
It is easy to descend into division and abuse – climbing out and finding unity again takes far longer. Further entrenching our divisions, whether from uncertainty or from partisanship, is not worthy of our country nor the leadership we now need. We are a body that understands from our own experience the dangers of division. It is our view and most solemn warning that we must find better ways of acting.
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The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines published this comment on the proceedings in the House of Commons yesterday: Language and leadership
The language used in the House of Commons last night is probably unprecedented. Drawing the name of a murdered MP into the fight was, at the very least, questionable. To describe the contribution of female MPs, pleading with the PM to moderate his language in the light of violence and death threats, as ‘humbug’ is appalling.
I am the bishop of a diocese in which Jo Cox is remembered with massive affection and in which there is great sensitivity to utilisation of her for political purposes. Her family are not just names to be traded.
Words are not neutral – they can become weapons. Words in the mouth of leaders can shape the language and behaviour of all sorts of people, and not always positively. The challenge of leadership is to lead, to behave like the adult in the room, to see the big picture, to hold the long-term perspective, and not to lose sight of the key issue…
The Church Times reported this as: Baines challenges Johnson over ‘destructive language’
Premier Radio reported on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks in the House of Lords yesterday: Justin Welby says in House of Lords that parliament’s reputation has sunk “very, very low”.
The Church Times reported thus: Divisiveness is shaking the country apart, warns Welby
The Archbishop in fact made two interventions yesterday, here are the transcripts:
Does the Minister agree that Parliament has, justifiably or not, seen its reputation sink very low over the last few months and that one of the ways of dealing with that is transparency? Regardless of how many letters there may or may not be, will he therefore undertake that the Government will be completely transparent and honest in the spirit and not merely the letter of the law about the actions they take over the next few weeks in connection with an extension?
My Lords, this debate –for want of a better word–demonstrates, I am sure the noble Lord would agree, the total division across Parliament. It is only a shadow of the immense divisions across the country, which the bishops find at every level, as they are immersed in every local community. The divisions are shaking this country apart. They are shaking us apart in all our great institutions, whether it is Parliament or the courts, which are portrayed as having launched a coup d’état–a slightly unlikely idea–and it is causing serious damage to our economy. We are hearing in our debates the incapacity of Parliament not only to make a decision but to find any way through the deadlock. The divisions are so deep that we cannot expect, I fear, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, suggested, that cross-party work could bring a decision on what we do, but can we not at least ask the Government to look for alternative means of setting a path to making a decision?
At the moment, all we hear regarding a decision is that one side says it is definitely this and the other side says that. I am used to this in an organisation that is split at every level; I am well aware of division, so I am speaking from deep familiarity. The way forward must be, as we have done on numerous occasions, to work out how to get to a decision, because the present means of handling it through Parliament is not working. We need to draw on wider experience, on mediation and other forms, so that Operation Yellowhammer and the Statement that we have heard at least form part of a clear plan to arrive at a firm decision. Does the Minister agree?
The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said this yesterday in response to the reading in the Lords of the Prime Minister’s statement:
My Lords, speaking on behalf of these Benches, I struggle to have to say that I was shocked as I listened to the repeat of the Statement. I could not believe that I was hearing it, from someone who knows that the nation is deeply divided and needs to find ways of working together. We need humility, repentance when necessary and an approach that listens carefully to the views of others rather than simply “Attack, attack, attack”. The Leader was not in the House earlier when my most reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury was here, but I encourage her to read his comments about the need for reconciliation–to find a different way forward to work together that is good for the nation. In one sense I am simply adding to the mood of the House as a whole, but I come at it from a very different point of view; I am not part of a political party and I have no axe to grind. I simply want to reflect that this was terrible. It was shocking. It is not worthy. I am sorry.
And today, Thursday. the Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, said this:
My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord for repeating the Statement and for making and underlining the commitment that the Government will obey the law. May I test that a little further? It seems to me that, in the current very fractious debate, what is needed is to respect the impartiality of those institutions upholding the constitution and the law. Will the Minister counsel his colleagues to use language that is appropriate and not excessive and that reflects respect for our institutions, the taking of personal responsibility and a degree of restraint? When Prayers are said by Bishops in this House, we pray every day for the well-being of all the estates in this realm. We all have a duty to make our own contribution towards that.
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The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church recently met, and one of the topics discussed was the exclusion of same-sex spouses from the invitations to attend the Lambeth Conference next year. That was reported on here in detail in earlier articles, starting here, and continuing here, then here, and also here, and finally here.
Following this week’s meeting this message was issued:
A Message of Love and Solidarity from the Bishops and Spouses to The Episcopal Church
For many bishops and bishops’ spouses of The Episcopal Church, next summer’s Lambeth Conference has become the occasion for a mixture of joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment. We cherish the bonds of affection that we enjoy with our Anglican siblings around the world. Gathering in prayer, study, and fellowship with our spiritual family is a gift for which we are profoundly grateful.
We, bishops and spouses choose to remain in community with each other as we navigate this passage in our common journey. We choose to remain one in the love of Jesus.
Our hearts are, however, troubled. The Lambeth Conference 2020 intentionally recognizes and underscores the important role bishops’ spouses play in the ministry of the episcopate. And yet, spouses of bishops in same-gender marriages have received no invitation to participate. Their exclusion wounds those who are excluded, their spouses, and their friends within and beyond the House of Bishops.
After faithful soul-searching, each bishop and spouse will arrive at a decision about how best to respond in the name of Christ. Some will attend and offer loving witness. Some will opt to stay at home as a different way to offer loving witness. Some will dedicate the resources not spent for Lambeth attendance to on-the-ground partnership projects as an alternative manifestation of our commitment to the Anglican Communion. Others will find different avenues to express the unwavering love of Jesus Christ.
The community of bishops and spouses supports and stands together in solidarity with each of our brothers and sisters in this Episcopal Church as they make these decisions according to their conscience and through prayerful discernment and invite the siblings of The Episcopal Church to join us in that solidarity.
More information about how this statement came about is contained in several news stories about the meeting:
House of Bishops opens fall meeting with discussions of same-sex spouse exclusion from Lambeth 2020
…Curry alluded in his sermon to the variety of responses that Episcopal bishops are considering.
“We are going to Lambeth, but some of us can’t and some of us won’t. We’ll each have to make a decision of conscience, and that decision of conscience must be respected,” Curry said, adding that he will attend. “I’m going as a witness to the way of love that Jesus has taught me…”
…Should Episcopal bishops skip the conference in protest? Should they go and make their objections clear while in England? Should the spouses who were invited take their own principled stands, and what would that look like? Should the House of Bishops agree on a unified response to what some see as an injustice?
Such questions were to be raised during an afternoon session Sept. 19 in which the spouses accompanied the bishops. That session was closed to reporters, to allow for open and honest conversations, but earlier in the day, Episcopal News Service was able to sit in on the smaller group discussion and listen to about 15 of the bishops share their thoughts, sometimes conflicted, on the best paths forward.
Glasspool opened the discussion with a pragmatic approach.
“Let’s prepare ourselves as best we can, whether we’re making our witness at home or in England,” Glasspool said. She plans to travel to England with her wife, Becki Sander, even if Sander won’t be able to attend official Lambeth gatherings.
Glasspool also cautioned her fellow bishops not to let this one issue dominate discussions at Lambeth, especially if doing so might provoke a conservative reaction, such as a new statement opposing same-sex marriage.
“If you take away all the fear and all my anxiety and all everybody else’s anxiety and ratchet it down, it’s a two-week conference. … My hope for us is that we can prepare as best we can, that we don’t go in blind,” she said…
..Same-sex marriage also figured into the bishops’ discussions of the upcoming Lambeth Conference 2020, a gathering in England of all active bishops in the Anglican Communion. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby chose to invite openly gay and lesbian bishops but not their spouses, so part of the Episcopal bishops’ planning has involved deciding how to respond to that exclusion.
Welby’s decision is expected to affect at least three Episcopal bishops with same-sex spouses: New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool, Maine Bishop Thomas Brown and the Rev. Bonnie Perry, who will be consecrated bishop of Michigan in February. All three attended the House of Bishops meeting in Minneapolis with their spouses.
Brown told Episcopal News Service on the first day of the meeting that he and his husband, the Rev. Thomas Mousin, were still deliberating over whether to go to England for the Lambeth Conference.
“We continue to be in prayer as a family, along with other bishops in the world … who have reached out arms of support and encouragement,” Brown said…
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We last reported on the case of the Bishop of Albany in January.
Yesterday, The Episcopal Church issued a press release: Further Action on Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive.
September 18, 2019
The Title IV Reference Panel for the discipline of bishops – composed of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops Cate Waynick, and Bishop for Pastoral Development Todd Ousley – announced it voted earlier today, pursuant to Episcopal Church Canon IV.11.3, to refer to a Hearing Panel the matter related to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive. Bishop Love’s pastoral letter and pastoral directive referred to the 2018 Resolution B012 of the General Convention. Under the Canons, the Hearing Panel will conduct a proceeding and then “reach a determination of the matter by (a) dismissal of the matter or (b) issuance of an Order.” (Canon IV.13.12)…
The Episcopal News Service has published a report, updated on 19 September: Albany Bishop William Love to face hearing in disciplinary case for blocking same-sex marriage. It includes comments from Bishop Love:
…Love, who is one of an estimated 135 bishops and bishops-elect who are in Minneapolis this week for the fall House of Bishops meeting, was informed of the decision at about the same time as The Episcopal Church issued a late-afternoon press release on the update in his case. He told Episcopal News Service on Sept. 19 that he was “thankful” that the matter had made it to the hearing panel, as he denied that he had done anything wrong.
“What I tried to do as best I can, by the grace of God, is to be faithful and obedient to that which I believe the Lord has called me to, even though it sometimes can be very difficult, and sometimes it’s not politically correct,” he said…
…Love told ENS on Sept. 19 that he thought he was upholding his vows by taking the position he did, not violating them.
“I chose to take the action that I did, trying to be faithful and obedient to my understanding of what I believe God has revealed through Holy Scripture, what the church has taught for over 2,000 years and what the wider Body of Christ has been asking us to do,” he said.
He added that he had no intention to lead Episcopalians away from the church over the issue, though some in his diocese have told him they would not stay if same-sex marriage is allowed there.
The Diocese of Albany has published this message from Bishop Love
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am currently at the fall House of Bishops’ Meeting in Minneapolis, where I was informed earlier this afternoon, that the Title IV Reference Panel for the discipline of bishops has met and voted (in accordance with the Canons of the Church) to refer to the Hearing Panel the matter related to my November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive regarding the 79th General Convention 2018 Resolution B012.
I greatly appreciate the Reference Panel’s decision to expedite the process by referring this matter directly to the Hearing Panel, where I will have the opportunity to address the concerns raised by the issuance of the November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive (which upholds the Church’s traditional understanding and teaching on marriage.
Now that the Reference Panel has acted, canonical timelines will be put in place, ensuring that the remainder of the Title IV Process should move much more quickly. It is my hope and prayer that God’s will, will ultimately be accomplished whatever the outcome of the Title IV proceedings.
I appreciate so much all of you who have been holding me and the Diocese of Albany up in prayer. I will keep you posted as I learn more.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
From a Church in Wales press release:
The Archdeacon of Rochdale was today (Thurs) elected as the next Bishop of Monmouth.
The Venerable Cherry Vann secured the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the last day of its meeting at Newport Cathedral.
The announcement was made by the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, President of the Electoral College.
He said, “I am looking forward enormously to working with Cherry. She has a huge amount that she will be able to contribute to the life, not only to the Diocese of Monmouth, but also to the Church in Wales.
“One area I know is very close to her heart is the church’s ministry in post-industrial areas where community life, and church life in particular perhaps, has suffered enormously. The diocese, a little while ago, appointed a new archdeacon with responsibility for those areas, but having a bishop with great experience of them will be a huge morale boost for them.”
Bishop Elect Vann said the challenges facing churches in south-east Wales were the same as those in the north-west of England. She said, “The towns around Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale and Ashton are significantly challenged, both economically and in terms of church life. We’ve done some statistics, and a very, very small percentage of the population are going to our churches. This is something that we have been working hard to address in the Manchester area and I look forward to bringing some of the wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained from there to Newport and the Diocese of Monmouth.
“It struck me when I read the diocesan profile how similar Monmouth Diocese is to Manchester, on a smaller scale, but the challenges are the same, the demographics are the same and it’s really good to be here to lead the people of Newport in the next challenges that lie ahead.”
Originally from Leicestershire, Bishop Elect Vann has served as Archdeacon of Rochdale, in the Diocese of Manchester, for the past 11 years. She trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge, and was ordained as a deacon in 1989. Among the first women to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1994, she has spent her entire ministry so far in the Diocese of Manchester, in Flixton, Bolton and Farnworth. She is also an honorary canon of Manchester Cathedral and a former chaplain to deaf people.
Ms Vann holds senior posts in the governance of the Church of England. She has been Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York since 2013 and is an ex-officio member of the Archbishops’ Council.
A talented pianist, Ms Vann is both an Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM) and a Graduate of the Royal Schools of Music. She conducts the Bolton Chamber Orchestra.
Ms Vann will be the Bishop Elect until the appointment is formally confirmed by the Archbishop at a Sacred Synod service. She will be then be consecrated as bishop at Brecon Cathedral – the seat of the current Archbishop – and enthroned as the 11th Bishop of Monmouth at Newport Cathedral.
Watch a short film of the Archbishop and the Bishop Elect Cherry Vann: