Thinking Anglicans

Winchester College report on John Smyth

Winchester College has published this statement:  Review Of Abuse In The 1970s And 1980s By John Smyth QC Of Pupils From Winchester College. It begins:

Winchester College is today publishing an independent review of the abuse committed by the late John Smyth QC against a number of former pupils who were at the College from the mid-1970s until 1982. They are some of the many victims of Smyth who were subject to his abuse over more than thirty years. The Warden and Fellows wish to thank all the victims and witnesses who came forward to assist with this review. We acknowledge the courage and determination of the victims in pursuing the truth about John Smyth: their testimony lies at the heart of this review. The College apologises unreservedly for its part in their terrible experiences…

The full text of the review is available here.

A statement from two of the survivors is published here.


Opinion – 22 January 2022

Trevor Cooper Law & Religion UK Contested heritage – A review of the Church of England guidance

Richard Burridge Church Times Is a Zoom rite a valid form of communion?
“The pandemic has led to eucharistic experiments online. But where is the Bishops’ guidance”

Jeremy Morris Ad fontes Whither Church reform? 1: Problems of the de-centralization agenda

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Winchester College Review about John Smyth
There is a link to the Review here.


General Synod Papers – 8-10 February 2022

Papers for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available online. There is a list (with links and a note of the day scheduled for their debate) in numerical order below the fold.


GS 2240 Agenda February 2022



Initial media responses to Canterbury CNC proposal

Updated yet again Saturday morning (scroll down for details)

For details of the proposal see earlier article.

Charlie Bell has written a blog post: The proposals on Canterbury – and why they are wrong.

His arguments are detailed and clear, and I recommend you read them in full. He concludes:

Unfortunately this is another example of cart before horse – the proposal in general is a good example of why theology and ecclesiology need to be embedded at the heart of decision-making and policy change in the Church of England. This proposal should be – at the very least – paused and reflected on with some seriousness before it goes further. Whilst in paragraph 19 and 20 we are told that we need to be ‘realistic’ about what can be done, and that ‘to begin to address the questions facing the Communion is, in the end, about the conversion of more than structures, but of the hearts of all involved, and of their practice of relationships through the Church to which we all belong.’ This may well be true, but this proposal is putting practical changes before the deep thinking about the nature of the Anglican Communion that needs to be done. It is not fit for purpose and should be rejected until this work is complete – or even started.

Unfortunately, this proposal – with its apparently unrecognised ecclesiological implications – is not new in terms of major change being brought in for what appear to be pragmatic reasons, yet carrying these major repercussions. I have written previously about the changes to consecrations implemented during Covid – which appear to be permanent. The entire direction of travel is concerning, and needs rethinking. We have experts in theology and ecclesiology – it remains mystifying that they are not invited to the table in the name of pragmatism. The O’Donovan review into the CNC must surely be the start (incidentally a review that did not consider the communion implications in detail but did (5.19) refer to the Canterbury CNC) – not the end – of the work required.

The Church Times has published a detailed article: Communion is asked: Do you want to help choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury?
This is also detailed, and worth reading carefully. It includes the following observations:

…The consultation document is not a neutral document but instead a piece of advocacy for the new proposal. It argues that many of the issues that the Archbishop of Canterbury addresses are global concerns that call for a Communion-wide response. It states: “The Communion-wide brief of the Archbishop can help facilitate learning from churches whose life is vibrant and growing.

“This dynamic enhances the role of the worldwide Communion and its significance for the Church of England. These considerations alone suggest that the balance of representatives on the CNC does not reflect the current nature of the role.”

It points out that the structure of the Anglican Communion, and the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is “rooted in England’s colonial history”. It argues, therefore: “The Church of England and the Communion cannot escape asking why a British cleric should always be primus inter pares” [“first among equals”]…

And it notes the following anomaly:

…The document suggests that the five international CNC members would come from each of the five regions in the Communion: the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe.

The proposal, however, specifically excludes “the four provinces of the British Isles” i.e. the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church of Ireland, as well as the Church of England. Since the diocese in Europe is part of the C of E, this would leave this region to be represented by one of the Extra-Provincial Churches (Spain, Portugal, Bermuda, or Falkland Islands)…

The Times has a report by Kaya Burgess: Alarm over Anglican plan to give overseas churches more say in choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury. This is behind a paywall, so many people will not be able to access in full,  but it starts out this way:

…English priests and worshippers have expressed surprise and anger at proposals for a five-fold increase in the power that Anglican churches overseas will be given in nominating the Church of England’s most senior bishop.

Concerns have been raised about whether the proposals could set back hopes to see a woman or a backer of same-sex marriage appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, as many Anglican churches globally still do not allow women to become bishops while most steadfastly oppose the idea of conducting gay marriages in church…

And among comments from some clergy, it also includes this quotation from me:

“There’s no way any other province of the Anglican Communion would tolerate having someone from the Church of England added to their selection process for bishops. I don’t think there’s any valid argument for it.”

My wider point was that, even if none of the concerns existed about gender, sexuality, etc, this would still be a very bad proposal on ecclesiological grounds.

Update Thursday

The Archbishop of York has responded to the Times article with a letter to the editor (scroll down all the way). Copy over here.

Update Friday

The Church Times has this: Leader comment: Wider still and wider . . . Representing the Communion on the CNC for the see of Canterbury.

The Times has a second letter (scroll down) from a diocesan bishop (Worcester) supporting this proposal and a second news article reporting on the two letters from bishops.

Update Saturday

Today the Times has no less than four letters, all opposing the proposal, from Christina Baron, Nigel Seed, Desmond Tillyer, and Anthony Archer.


Opinion – 19 January 2022

Helen King sharedconversations Bake a cake for Living in Love and Faith: how to make your response count

Paul Devonshire Surviving Church “The Patronising Predisposition of Unaccountable Power”. The Cost of Questioning Church Authority

1 Comment

Bishop of Plymouth to retire

The Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel, is to retire in August 2022. Plymouth is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Exeter.


Opinion – 15 January 2022

The Guardian view on same-sex weddings in church: the zeitgeist is moving
“The Church of England should follow the example of Anglicans in Wales and Scotland, and give its blessing to gay and lesbian relationships”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Changing Attitude England’s campaign for equality

Martyn Percy Modern Church A Progressive Union for a Precarious Church

David Power Church Times Time’s up for stipendiary ministry
“The C of E should follow St Paul’s example, not secular trends”

Surviving Church Gangsterism and the Church of England
Gilo takes a hard critical look at the Safeguarding Culture and the Administration of the Church of England”

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Past Cases Review 2 project


Consultation launched on membership of the Crown Nominations Commission for future Archbishops of Canterbury

Press release from the Church of England

Consultation launched on membership of the Crown Nominations Commission for future Archbishops of Canterbury

The Archbishops’ Council has launched a consultation on a proposal to change the make-up of the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury.

The proposal would give the worldwide Anglican Communion a greater voice on the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.

At present the entire Communion outside of England is represented by just one of the current 16 voting members, compared to six from the Diocese of Canterbury alone.

The proposal would increase the Anglican Communion representatives to five while reducing the number of members from the Diocese to three. As at present, there would also be nine other members from the Church of England, including six elected by General Synod.

The idea originated from the Diocese of Canterbury itself where the Diocesan Synod agreed a motion asking the Archbishops’ Council to consider decrease the representation of the Diocese of Canterbury on future CNCs for the See of Canterbury.

The consultation, which will include key partners from across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, will run until March 31.

Responses will be collated in the spring with an expectation of a final proposal being put to the General Synod for a vote in July. If approved it would change the Synod’s standing orders, which govern CNCs.

The General Synod, as part of the consultation, will also debate the proposal within the consultation document at its next meeting next month.

Responding to the consultation

  • Download the consultation document. Translations of the document in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese will be available in due course. To request a translation, please use the email address below.
  • If you would like to respond, please complete the consultation response document and return it to the email address below. This consultation will close on 31st March 2022.
  • If you have any queries on this consultation, please contact Elise Sandham, Private Secretary to the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, by email on the address below.

Bishop of Maidstone to retire

The Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, has announced his intention to retire on 2 October 2022 – see here (scroll down).


Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office – there is more on the Diocese of Salisbury’s website.

Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury: 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury, in succession to The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam following his retirement.


Stephen trained for ministry at Chichester Theological College. He served his title at Sherborne Abbey with Castleton and Lillington in the Diocese of Salisbury and was ordained Priest in 1989.

He became Vicar of Branksome St Aldhelm from 1992 and was additionally appointed Rural Dean of Poole in 2000. In 2001, Stephen was appointed Sub Dean of St Albans, and took up his current role as Dean of Gloucester in 2011.

Stephen is a Church Commissioner and Lead Dean for Safeguarding. He is married to Carol and they have three adult children.


Opinion – 12 January 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Tutufication of the Church: A Path for the Future?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Sorting out the disagreements about homosexuality
Harry Williams – Life Abundant or Life Resisting?

Peter Collier Ecclesiastical Law Society 50 Years of Safeguarding – 950 Years of Clergy Discipline: Where do we go from here?
There are links to a YouTube video of a lecture given in December 2021 and to an extended version of the text of the lecture.
There is a summary of the lecture in the Church Times.


Third Church Estates Commissioner

News from the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of the Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield as Third Church Estates Commissioner

Canon Winfield was ordained deacon in 1989 and priest in 1994. She has worked in parish and cathedral ministry, university and military chaplaincy, ecumenical and Anglican Communion relations, and humanitarian diplomacy, representing the Anglican Communion at the United Nations. Canon Winfield is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor on Reconciliation.

As Third Church Estates Commissioner, Canon Winfield will join the Church Commissioners for England’s Board of Governors and will chair the Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee and the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee.

Welcoming the appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Flora has an exceptional record of service to the Church and will be a valuable addition to the Church Commissioners’ leadership.

“I am very pleased that Flora is joining the Church Commissioners, bringing to this role her breadth of ministerial experience, her extensive leadership and theological expertise and her service as a senior member of staff at Lambeth Palace.”

Commenting on her appointment, Canon Winfield said:” I welcome the opportunity to make this contribution to the life and work of the Church of England in a time of change, development and possibility, as we respond to Christ’s call to grow as disciples, building on our historic inheritance and looking forward together with confidence and hope.”

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, deputy chair of the Church Commissioners, said: “Flora’s deep faith, experience with the Church at a local and international level and passion for furthering the Kingdom of God makes her an ideal Third Church Estates Commissioner. I am very much looking forward to working with her in this role.”

Canon Winfield has taught ecclesiology and church history and has published books and articles in the field of ecumenical theology. In 2010, she was awarded a DD by Virginia Theological Seminary for her 20 years of service to the Communion as a theologian.

Canon Winfield has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London since 2010, is a Director of the Anglican Alliance, is a member of Chapter at Bradford Cathedral, and a Trustee of the Community of St Andrew. She assumes the role of Third Estates Commissioner on 1 February.

Further information:

Particular priorities for the new Third Commissioner will be:

  • A review of the church legislation which establishes the Commissioners’ role for oversight of change at parish, deanery and diocesan level (Mission and Pastoral Measure review – read it here).
  • The establishment of the co-regulation of cathedrals by the Commissioners in an important new partnership with the Charity Commission.
  • Reaching the Church of England’s carbon net zero targets for 2030.

Opinion – 8 January 2022

Theo Hobson The Spectator Divided we stand: Anglicans need to agree to disagree

Stewart Clem The Living Church Building for Humans: a primer on Christian Architecture

Mark Hill Law & Religion UK The Great Strasbourg Bake Off

Paul Hackwood Church Times Church faces a stark choice for the future
“The drive towards centralisation is not working. Power must be shifted downwards to parish clergy”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church CDM – A Case Study
Safeguarding. A follow-up account of Church discipline in operation


Stephen Knott to be new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed Stephen Knott as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, who plays a key role in the nomination of bishops and cathedral deans. He will take up the role at the end of January 2022.

The Lambeth Palace press release is copied below, and there is further information at the Church Times.



Opinion – 5 January 2022

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Collegiality and Tutufication

Duncan Wilson Worship Words A letter to Melchior

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Passionate Church Leadership and the Cause of Justice and Integrity

1 Comment

In memoriam Desmond Tutu

picture of Desmond TutuDesmond Tutu (picture from the Church Times)

The funeral of Desmond Tutu was today. Below are links to a number of articles about him.

Church Times: Obituary: The Most Revd Desmond Tutu and From our archives: Interview: Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town (2006)

Richard Burridge The Spectator The Father I knew: A tribute toDesmond Tutu

Adriaan van Klinken The Conversation February 2020 Desmond Tutu’s long history of fighting for lesbian and gay rights.
Follow this link to reach the full text of the chapter from which the above article is an excerpt.

Andrew McGowan The Conversation July 2021 Radicalism mixed with openness: how Desmond Tutu used his gifts to help end Apartheid

Chris McGreal Guardian When Desmond Tutu stood up for the rights of Palestinians, he could not be ignored.

Two archive news items (hat tip Rod Gillis) on the ordination of women:

1989 Washington Post: Ban on ordination of women causes anguish for Tutu
2014 Huffington Post: Archbishop Desmond Tutu Awesomely Calls Out Religious Leaders Who Won’t Ordain Women

Earth and Altar Richard Pryor Desmond Tutu: The Full Flowering of the Anglican Social Gospel

Here is the text of a sermon preached at Southwark Cathedral in 2004 and you can listen to a 2007 sermon preached at St Albans via this link: St Albans gives thanks for the life and witness of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


Opinion – 1 January 2022

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Diocese of Winchester: Questions about the Future

Paul Hackwood Church Times C of E’s crisis is about more than money
“Behind financial problems lie existential questions about purpose and vision”

Simon Jenkins The Guardian Churches could double as banks, or even serve beer. We can’t leave them empty
“These mainly listed buildings sit at the heart of almost every community – we are squandering a precious legacy”

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The True Wilderness: Harry Williams’ guide to living from within the depth of experience


Opinion – 29 December 2021

Michael Coren tvo For a priest, Christmas week is among the hardest of the year

Jeremy Morris Ad fontes Gold, frankincense – and myth

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Christmas and Easter – A Proposed Revision

David Brown Surviving Church The Church of England and its Episcopal Leadership

Martyn Percy Modern Church Rickety Religion (Part Five: Post-Advent Values)

Martyn Percy Modern Church Time, Light, Truth and Christmas Hope

Janet Fife Surviving Church Vignette in the Vestry


Opinion – 22 December 2021

Martyn Percy Modern Church Rickety Religion (Part Four: Post-Advent Structures)

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News Drawing the Line?


Oxford University Chancellor writes to Christ Church

Andrew Billen reports in The Times: Oxford fears Christ Church dean dispute is damaging reputation.

The chancellor of Oxford University says its reputation is being damaged by a long-running dispute between Christ Church and its dean.

Lord Patten of Barnes, a former cabinet minister, wrote to the college’s 65 fellows about the dispute with the Very Rev Martyn Percy and requested an urgent meeting to discuss its “protracted and ongoing dispute” and the “damage it is doing to the reputation of the collegiate university”…

…On Saturday the Rev Jonathan Aitken, an ally of Percy, wrote to The Times calling the attempt to classify Percy mentally ill “comic and contemptible”. The dean was, he said, “on sparkling form”.

Last night Christ Church said: “We have received the letter from the chancellor and vice-chancellor and welcome the opportunity to discuss the situation with them. We have no further comment to make at this time.”

You can read the full text of the letter here.