Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 15 May 2021

Abigail Frymann Rouch Church Times Could interim ministry be the answer in tough times for the Church?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Church. Does it really serve Emerging Adults?

Tina Beardsley Unadulterated Love So-called conversion therapy, gender identity, and the dangers of coercion and consultation

ViaMedia.News Yve’s Story – “I Felt Set Up To Fail”
by Yve, who has experienced both the very worst and the very best of the Church of England

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CofE National Register of Clergy

Church of England press release
National Register of Clergy launched
12/05/2021

The National Register of the Church’s clergy with a licence or Permission to Officiate (PTO) is now publicly available on the Church of England website.

The Register is an important development in strengthening safeguarding in the Church and was a recommendation in the 2017 Gibb Report which looked into the Church’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop Peter Ball.

Having a single, reliable, up to date register will enable clergy, churchwardens, and members of the public to check the bona fides of all clergy with licence or permission to officiate.

The National Register shows an individual’s title and name, how they are engaged with the Church of England (current post/licence) and the diocese, area or benefice to which they are licensed. The Register does not include contact, biographical or historical information.

At the time of launch, the National Register includes those who are ordained, expanding to include lay ministry in due course.

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Opinion – 12 May 2021

Charlie Bell For whom the Bell tolls Why marriage matters

ViaMedia.News Steven’s Story – “I felt I had no option but to make a formal complaint to the Garda”

Helen King sharedconversations Conversion therapy: faith without fear

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Next Steps for LLF faces challenges

Three items have appeared today which suggest the road ahead for LLF is not straightforward.

First, the Bishop of London has responded to the item in the Queen’s Speech about banning conversion therapy. Here’s the full press release which includes the following:

Following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the Government will ban conversion therapy, the Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith Next Steps Group, said”The Church of England believes that all people are made in the image of God and must be cherished for who they are.

“The General Synod has voted overwhelmingly to reject coercive Conversion Therapies so we welcome the Government’s commitment to explore these matters further with a view to enshrining that position in law.

“We recognise the difficulties in defining Conversion Therapies and look forward to working closely with the Government to develop a viable definition and subsequent legislation.

“We want to prevent abuses of power, and ensure that issues of consent are made absolutely central to any future legislation.”

The motion agreed by General Synod in July 2017 was:
That this Synod: (a) endorse the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK of November 2015, signed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and others, that the practice of gay conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence; and 3 (b) call upon the Church to be sensitive to, and to listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity; (c) and call on the government to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy.

Note that the word “coercive” does not appear in the motion passed by General Synod.

Second, the Next Steps Group has been explicitly criticised for its handling of a complaint relating to the inclusion of video featuring a particular person in LLF resource materials. This is explained carefully in an article on the Unadulterated Love site by Tina Beardsley titled LLF Next Steps Group refuses to act on trans people’s concerns. This article is not amenable to precis, and needs to be read in full to understand the complexities of the matter.

Third, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has  issued a press release, and written to the Bishop of London about the case involving The Rev’d Robert Thompson, Vicar of SS Mary and James, West Hampstead, and the person featured in Rachel’s Story – I Don’t Want to Be Part of An Institution that Allows Abuse to which we linked in an earlier TA article. The press release in full:

WHISTLEBLOWING PRIEST IN THE DIOCESE OF LONDON BEING FALSELY INVESTIGATED OVER TRUMPED UP ONLINE BULLYING CLAIMS

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has written to the Bishop of London condemning the Clergy Discipline Measure case brought against a whistleblowing priest.

The Campaign has learned that The Rev’d Robert Thompson, Vicar of SS Mary and James, West Hampstead, is currently being investigated by Church authorities for whistleblowing on the basis that he engaged in online bullying, harassment, intimidation and abuse of another cleric accused of traumatising a lesbian Christian.

In 2020, Fr. Robert was approached by a young woman who had been, in her words, ‘repeatedly traumatised’ by the actions of the vicar of a Holy Trinity Brompton plant in London because of her sexuality. You can read her story in her own words here. Fr Robert has been acting as her support, advocate and guide as she has sought for recognition of the harm done to her. In this process there has been an official investigation by the Diocese of London into the abuse of this young woman, which has made recommendations that have yet to be fully implemented by the parish concerned. 

Nigel Pietroni, Chairman, Campaign for Equal Marriage etc, said:

“We have reviewed Fr Robert’s online comments, tweets and retweets in relation to the case of this young woman and can find no evidence of bullying and intimidation, and in fact no reference to the other priest concerned at all.  

“Fr Robert’s focus has been on supporting the young woman in her struggle for redress and support, and the need for substantial changes in the approach by the Diocese of London, illustrated by the young woman’s experience, into safeguarding LGBTQIA+ people in its churches. The case demonstrates the deep harm that can be done by a lack of transparency and honesty about the position of LGBTQIA+ people in Church of England parishes. There are genuine questions raised by this case about spiritual abuse and the misuse of power.”

ENDS

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Church of England guidance on memorials with contested heritage

Church of England press release

The Church of England has published guidance for parishes and cathedrals addressing concerns over memorials with links to slavery and other contested heritage

The new guidance enables churches and cathedrals to consider the history of their buildings and congregations, and to engage with everyone in their community to understand how physical artefacts may impact their mission and worship. It offers a framework to approach such questions locally and, where necessary, to engage with the relevant bodies who oversee changes to cathedral and church buildings.

In June 2020, the Church of England announced a consultation on approaches to contested heritage following a series of cases around the country. The work forms part of ‘Open and Sustainable Churches’, a long-running programme seeking to identify issues affecting the ability of churches and cathedrals to provide worship and welcome, offering support and resources to tackle these.

The guidance published today has been informed by a wide-ranging consultation which has included every Church of England diocese and cathedral, as well as heritage bodies, specialists in church monuments, and those with an interest and specialism in UKME representation in the Church of England.

It notes that while churches and cathedrals are, above all, places dedicated to the worship of God, for a range of reasons, members of communities may not always feel welcome in these buildings. One such reason could be the presence of objects commemorating people responsible for the oppression and marginalisation of others.

The guidance specifically addresses the issue of heritage associated with racism and the slave trade – including plaques, statues, inscriptions and other monuments, but hopes that by doing so it will establish a methodology which can be used for other forms of contested heritage.

The guidance does not prescribe solutions, but presents a range of options and considerations, together with suggested models for local consultation and discussion. It encourages balanced, inclusive decision-making.

It also states that while ‘no change’ may be the outcome of such a consultation, this is not the same as ‘no action’ and encourages research, consultation and reflection where concerns are raised, to assess how much objects may impact on missional, pastoral and liturgical activities.

On publication of the guidance, The Church of England’s Director of Churches and Cathedrals, Becky Clark, said:

“With this guidance, the Church of England is seeking to provide a framework for parishes and cathedrals to lead discussions about how the heritage in our buildings can best serve our commitment to be a welcoming and inclusive Church today.

“Church buildings and their interiors have been adapted over centuries in response to practical needs, architectural styles, as well as to society itself.

“The issues of contested heritage require us honestly and openly to discuss ways in which our buildings can demonstrate our commitment to social and racial justice as a reflection of our faith in Jesus Christ.”

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General Synod: July meeting to take place in London

Church of England press release

General Synod: July meeting to take place in London
10/05/2021

The University of York, which hosts the annual July group of sessions of the General Synod, has taken the decision to cancel all events on its campus this summer as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.

Arrangements are therefore being made for the Synod scheduled for July 9 – 13 to take place at Church House, London, during the same dates.

It will be the first full in-person Synod for 18 months. Although it is expected that the final stages of the Government’s ‘reopening’ roadmap will have been passed by that time, Synod staff will ensure that all necessary health and safety arrangements are in place for everyone attending.

A timetable for the group of sessions will be finalised by the Business Committee later this month and the full agenda and papers will be published on the Synod App and the Synod web page on Friday June 25.

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Opinion – 8 May 2021

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Victim of abuse failed by London bishops who perversely then pursue the victim’s defender

Charles Foster Surviving Church Growing up and away from the #Fletcherculture

Jaime Sommers ViaMedia.News Jaime’s Story – “They had absolutely no idea what to do with me”
by Jaime Sommers, a bisexual 50 year old woman whose story of abuse by the Church of England will shock many

Jon Stobart Church Times From the genteel to the exotic
“Auction catalogues provide a glimpse into the home lives of rural Georgian clergy”

15 Comments

Opinion – 5 May 2021

Luke Dowding OneBodyOneFaith Service & Self

ViaMedia.News Rachel’s Story – I Don’t Want to Be Part of An Institution that Allows Abuse
by Rachel, a 30 something Christian, hockey player and lesbian whose experience in an HTB plant has seriously damaged her faith.

56 Comments

Opinion – 1 May 2021

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Towards Healthier Power Dynamics in the Church

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of culture; speaking of church

ViaMedia.News Revd Adams’ Story – Is It Wrong for Me to Tell the Truth?
by the Reverend Adams, a gay Methodist Minister

57 Comments

Bishop of Lincoln announces his retirement

Press release from Diocese of Lincoln

To the people of the Diocese of Lincoln:

I am writing during the season of Easter, as we look forward to the celebration of Ascension Day and to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Whitsunday, the first Christian Pentecost, to announce my retirement as Bishop of Lincoln on the 31st December 2021 – more than ten years after I took up the post on the 19th September 2011 and as I approach my 69th birthday.

This will be preceded by a period of study leave during October to December in which I will reflect on the last ten years of ministry. I will do this by attending a retreat and undertaking guided study.

Of course, there will be time later for me to give thanks and for others to reflect on all that has happened in the Diocese during these ten years – to mark what has gone well and what has not gone so well; more of that later.

I hope my farewell service will be in Lincoln Cathedral on Sunday 21st November at Evensong at 3.45pm – COVID19 permitting.

I have not made this decision lightly, but after careful thought and prayer and after consultation with people of wisdom inside and outside the Diocese…

The press release goes on to explain the reasoning behind this timing.

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Disruption to service

Thinking Anglicans is being moved to a new server. Unfortunately this has proved more complicated than expected and the changes have been temporarily backed out. I think that the state of comments has been restored, but I apologise if a comment has been lost in the process.

Updated Thursday evening: The move has now been completed, and if you are seeing this message then you are seeing us on our new server.

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Opinion – 28 April 2021

Jas ViaMedia.News Jas’ Story – Please. Be. Kind.
by Jas, a former drug addict, Bible College Student and now married lesbian

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Lesbians, Sex and the Church of England

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Responding well to Survivors. A Cautionary Tale from the Past

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Suffragan Bishop of Lynn

Press release from Number 10

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Lynn: 28 April 2021

The Queen has approved the appointment of the Venerable Dr Jane Elizabeth Steen as the next Suffragan Bishop of Lynn.

From:Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published:28 April 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Dr Jane Elizabeth Steen, MA LLM PhD, Archdeacon of Southwark, in the diocese of Southwark to the Suffragan See of Lynn, in the diocese of Norwich, in succession to the Right Reverend Cyril Jonathan Meyrick who resigned on 25th January 2021.

Background

Jane was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. She served her title at St John the Baptist, Chipping Barnet, in the Diocese of St Albans and was ordained Priest in 1997.

In 1999, Jane was appointed Chaplain to the Bishop of Southwark in the Diocese of Southwark. In 2005, she became Canon Chancellor at Southwark Cathedral, also serving as Diocesan Director of Ministerial Education and Canon Theologian.

In 2013, Jane took up her current role as Archdeacon of Southwark.

There are more details on the Norwich diocesan website.

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Reactions to the CofE anti-racism task force report

Updated 29 April and 2 May and 6 May

Although there has been extensive media coverage of the recent report, aided by the recent BBC television documentary, there has been relatively little commentary on the content. Here is a small selection:

Church Times Leader comment: Welcomed to the table at last?

Jonathan Jong On ‘From Lament to Action’: the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce Report

Diocese in Europe Racial Justice: “From Lament To Action”

Telegraph Calvin Robinson The Church of England is institutionally woke

Archbishop Cranmer From Lament To Action: the report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce

Updates

Nicholas Adams Lament and Action

Al Barrett #LamentToAction: making the invisible, visible

Mike Higton Theological Education in ‘From Lament to Action’

Ian Paul How should the Church respond to race?

Mike Higton (again) How should the church respond to race? – A reply to Ian Paul – kai euthus

2 Comments

Opinion – 24 April 2021

Archbishop Cranmer One Church of England diocese has spent £500,000 on 20 Non-Disclosure Agreements

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Bishop to the Archbishops opposed to equality of LGBTIQ+ people

David Wilbourne Church Times Bigger platoon at Bishopthorpe
“News of further appointments to the Archbishop of York’s staff has prompted David Wilbourne to recall his time as John Habgood’s chaplain”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Open Letter to +Emma of Penrith

47 Comments

General Synod – Day 2

Updated Sunday and Tuesday and 8 May

Today’s session started at 9.30 pm and a live video stream is available here.

Order Paper II – the morning’s business

Order Paper III – the afternoon’s business

Andrew Nunn writes about some of the business: Responsible representation.

Church Times Synod feels its way carefully towards greater diversity

Stephen Lynas summarises the day’s business: So sad to watch good love go bad.

Church of England press releases: Bishop tells General Synod to speak out against persecution of religious believers and atheists
Unanimous Synod support for new safeguarding code

Business Done – the official summary of both days’ business.

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General Synod – Day 1

Updated Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The Church of England’s General Synod meets today (23 April) and tomorrow. The agenda and papers are here.

Today’s session starts at 12.30 pm and a live video stream will be available here.

Order Paper 1 – the day’s business

There are two previews of the business by Synod members.

Stephen Lynas I will be alone again…
Andrew Nunn The sun rises

Reports on the day’s business

Archbishop of York’s Presidential Address to General Synod
Andrew Nunn A moving beginning
The Guardian Archbishop of York commits C of E to racial justice after ‘sobering’ week
Episcopal News Service Bishop tells Church of England’s General Synod to speak out against persecution of religious believers and atheists
Church Times Archbishop of York: How I was saved by Grace
Church Times Action, not words, needed to protect freedom of religion or belief

Stephen Lynas summarises the day’s business: See my friends.
There is also a brief review from Andrew Nunn: Under pressure.

Business Done 23 April 2021 – the official summary of the day’s business.

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House of Bishops Meeting – 20 April 2021

Church of England press release

House of Bishops Meeting – 20 April 2021
22/04/2021

The House of Bishops met on Tuesday 20th April remotely via Zoom.

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Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce calls for urgent changes

Church of England press release

From Lament to Action: Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce calls for urgent changes to culture of Church of England

The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has today published its report From Lament to Action proposing a suite of changes to begin bringing about a change of culture in the life of the Church of England.

It issues a warning to the Archbishops that a failure to act could be a “last straw” for many people of UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) or Global Majority Heritage (GMH) backgrounds with “devastating effects” on the future of the Church.

The report sets out 47 specific actions for different arms of the Church of England to implement across five priority areas: participation, governance, training, education and young people.

Without these changes the Church risks denying and disregarding the gifts of a significant part of the nation, the Taskforce makes clear.

(The press release is continued below the fold)

The full report is available here.

The text of the Archbishops’ statement in response to Anti-Racism Taskforce Report is here.

Information about the Anti-Racism Taskforce itself.

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General Synod Questions

Updated

The questions, and answers, for this week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod are now available here. Supplementary questions will be taken on Friday at 6.00 pm.

An extra item has been added to the agenda regarding the late Duke of Edinburgh, and this has resulted in changes to the timings of other items. The latest timetable is here.

Update

The timetable has been revised again to add a presidential address. This version is here.

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