Thinking Anglicans

Parliament asks about episcopal appointments

Yesterday in the House of Lords, some questions were asked about the appointment of Church of England bishops. The Hansard record of that is to be found here, and is copied below the fold.

The answer given about the number of current vacancies seems a little incomplete. Here’s what Peter Owen wrote towards the end of September: Forthcoming episcopal appointments. In addition to the five vacancies for which CNC dates had been allocated, he lists four other dioceses where vacancies were already known to be about to occur.

All nine vacancies now have dates listed on the CNC’s web page (including dates for Bath & Wells which have already taken place).



What Church of England members think

Two articles in the Church Times by Linda Woodhead are now available to non-subscribers.

The first item was referenced in this earlier TA article: Profile of Anglicans. The full text is now available to all here: ‘Nominals’ are the Church’s hidden strength.

THE Church of England’s mission strategies and investment of energy assume that churches and churchgoers are its main resources. But a significant new survey offers a broader answer. It suggests that non-churchgoing Anglicans may be much more important to the Church and its future than the dismissive word “nominals” implies…

…The results suggest that people who identify themselves as Anglican (“Church of England” was not given as an option) make up one third of the adult population of Great Britain. Adherents of all the other religions and Christian denominations added together constitute the next third, and those who say that they have “no religion” are the final slice of the pie.

THE most obvious division within the Anglicans as a whole is between those who say that they participate in a church or Christian group, and those who say that they do not. This gives us robust categories of churchgoers and non-churchgoers, placing those who attend occasional events, such as a wedding or a carol service, on the non-churchgoing side of the line. This non-churchgoing constituency represents 83 per cent of Anglicans, which dwarfs the 17 per cent who go to church.

This might, however, not be bad news for the Church. It is easy to assume that the churchgoers are the “real Anglicans”, and the non-churchgoers are backsliders whose diluted faith is one step away from atheism. The survey reveals something more interesting. Many of the “nominals” are more than purely nominal. Many believe and practise in similar ways to churchgoers – who are themselves not a homogenous group…

More recently, last month, the second article appeared, titled: A gap is growing within the Church. The second article concludes as follows:

…OVERALL, then, if we put together the results of both surveys, a general portrait of Anglicans emerges. They tend to be tough-minded rather than tender-hearted, and they place high value on individual responsibility. They think that people should stand on their own two feet, and be free to make their own mistakes. They believe that less should be spent on welfare, and that the current system needs reform. They value tradition and a common national culture, which they feel to be under threat.

When asked what they value about the Church of England, their favoured response is: “It is integral to English culture,” although churchgoers are slightly more likely to say “it brings people closer to God.”

They look back to a past that they imagine to have been less selfish, better disciplined, and bound by common values – but they have nevertheless embraced changes that have made society fairer to women and gay people.

In short, Anglicans have a good deal in common with the Government. They are in line with The Guardian on personal issues, but the Telegraph or even the Mail on wider social and economic matters.

The gap between this set of values, and those supported by the Church, especially as it is represented by bishops and archbishops, the General Synod, church policy, and official statements – hence what is reported in the media – is wide. In a striking inversion, official church teaching is welfarist-paternalist on social and economic issues, and authoritarian-paternalist on personal ethics. It is the mirror image of majority Anglican opinion.

There is also a values gap between the Church and wider society – a gap that widens as you go down the age range. Young people tend to be centrist in their socio-political views, and highly liberal and egalitarian in their views on personal morality. We already knew that disaffiliation from the Church of England has increased with every generation, but our polling points to an important reason for this.

When asked whether they think the Church of England is a negative or positive force in society today, 60 per cent of under-25s say “neither”, or “don’t know”; and 21 per cent say “negative”. When the “negatives” are asked their reasons, the answer they greatly favour is: “The Church of England is too prejudiced – it discriminates against women and gay people.”

It is foolish for any Church to think that in order to survive it has to follow public opinion, or even the opinion of its own members, affiliates, and sympathisers. But when it is significantly out of step with all of these, questions need to be asked.

The questions are more pressing for a body that wants to remain a national Church with wide social influence rather than a counter-cultural sect. My own suspicion is that church leaders are not being wilfully oppositional. They simply do not have the historic mindset, organisational structures, or investment in research that would enable them to maintain responsive contact even with their own grassroots.

The full dataset for the second survey (PDF, 9 Mb) can be found here. BRIN has a discussion of this here: Secularization Restated and Other News.


Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York announced today that Canon Phil Potter has been appointed Archbishops’ Missioner and Fresh Expressions Team Leader

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are delighted to announce that Canon Phil Potter will be the next Archbishops’ Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions team.

Canon Potter, who is Director of Pioneer Ministry for the Diocese of Liverpool, will succeed Bishop Graham Cray, who has held the posts since 2009. Canon Potter will take up the role at the beginning of April 2014. His appointment has been warmly welcomed by the board of Fresh Expressions and its partners.

Archbishop Justin said: ‘Phil is a skilled and imaginative practitioner whose achievements as a pioneer minister and church builder have been extraordinary. At the same time, I would like to express my deep thanks to Bishop Graham for his five years of distinguished service.

‘I am also excited that the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, will be chairman of the Board of Fresh Expressions.

‘I am grateful to God for the growth we have already seen through Fresh Expressions and for the other denominations with whom this ministry is shared. Working together provides the oxygen of mission and evangelism.’

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said: ‘Phil Potter has a strong track record in pioneer ministry in his own Diocese of Liverpool and beyond.

‘I am confident that his leadership of the Fresh Expressions team will strengthen the Church’s mission as both Fresh Expressions and inherited Church work together to proclaim Christ afresh in this and for coming generations. He has my full support and will be in my prayers.’

Lambeth Palace has provided additional information about Phil Potter and Fresh Expressions which is copied below the fold.


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Jonathan Clatworthy writes for Modern Church about Bishops and inspirers.

Jennifer Levitz writes in The Wall Street Journal that Churches Take a Stand on Pews, Replacing Them With Chairs.

Watts & Co, the well known London ecclesiastical suppliers, are on a church crawl round London Underground’s Circle Line, starting at St James’s Park. Going clockwise they have reached Edgware Road; the full list is here.

Stanley Hauerwas explains How to write a theological sentence for ABC Religion and Ethics.

Richard Chapman writes that The C of E goes looking for ‘God-doing’ at the party conferences – and comes away impressed on Gillan Scott’s God & Politics in the UK blog.

Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian about Darkness as my constant companion.

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about A new way to be a pilgrim.


Tributes to former Archbishop David Gitari


ACNS reported on 30 September: Archbishop David Gitari, former Kenya Primate dies.

ACNS has republished this obituary of the archbishop by Bishop Graham Kings: Archbishop David Gitari 1937-2013: Evangelist, Prophet, Liturgist and Bridge-Builder.

An earlier article is Archbishop David Gitari: Biblical Interpretation in Action in Kenya.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has written this: Tribute to the late David Gitari.

The Archbishop of Canterbury published this tribute.

Update ACNS has England’s Bishop of Sherborne Dr Graham Kings speaks to BBC World Service about the late Archbishop David Gitari of the Anglican Church of Kenya.


Public opinion on B&B discrimination is divided by age

Bull and another (Appellants) v Hall and another (Respondents) is being heard at the Supreme Court today.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll has been published, which shows that:

Over 60s and under 50s sharply divided on B&B gay discrimination, new survey shows

An appeal by bed and breakfast owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull is due to be heard by the Supreme Court this week. The Bulls refused on religious grounds to let a double room to a homosexual couple in a civil partnership in 2008, and were ordered by a County Court to pay damages to the couple concerned.

A majority think it is wrong to discriminate

A nationally representative poll carried out by YouGov for the Westminster Faith Debates finds that the majority of people in Britain (57%) don’t think that B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, whilst a third (33%) think they should and 11% ‘don’t know’. (See appendix for survey question.)

Opinion varies enormously by age

In response to the question of whether B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, 81% of under 24s say they should not, but just 40% of those aged 60 or more agree. Half of those aged 60+ think that B&B owners should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples.

The graph below shows how much opinion differs by age. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be opposed to discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality. Even though gender and religion have an effect in shaping opinion, age is decisive. Thus even amongst those most likely to support discrimination – the strictest believers (who take their authority from God, scriptures, religious sources rather than their own judgement) – the current generation of young people is now opposed…

Follow this link for the graph.

The press release continues:

Most religious people do not think discrimination should be allowed

People who say they belong to a religion also disapprove of discrimination. Asked the question whether B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, the proportion of those in all the major religious groups who say they should not be allowed outweighs the proportion who say it should.

Looking at how opinion varies by strength of belief in God, even the most certain believers are against allowing discrimination (by 49% to 41%), and as you go down the belief scale from certain belief in God to certain atheism, the margin against discrimination increases to 40% (65% to 25%)

Looking at how opinion varies amongst those who regularly participate in a religious group, the more regularly attenders are more likely to be in favour of allowing discrimination. Those who attend at least once a week are in favour by 53% to 36%. The more rarely you attend a religious group the less you are in favour.

Amongst all religious people those most in favour of allowing discrimination are the small group who look to God (48% to 36%), scripture (50% to 37%), or traditions/teachings of religion (49% to 35%) for their main authority in life.

And there is more.


Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Kenya

Lambeth Palace has issued this press release:

Archbishop to visit Kenya to offer solidarity
Monday 7th October 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit Nairobi on 19 and 20 October as a guest of the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Eliud Wabukala.

The purpose of the visit, which has been arranged at short notice, is to be in solidarity with the Kenyan people following the attack on the Westgate shopping mall last month.

The programme of the visit is not yet confirmed.

The Archbishop was invited to speak at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which takes place between 21 October and 26 October in Nairobi.

He was unable to attend because of long-standing diary commitments, including the baptism of Prince George. He will, however, record a video greeting, which will be broadcast to delegates at the start of the conference.

The Archbishop is also continuing to hold in prayer the people of Peshawar, Syria, and all those in troubled parts of the world.

Earlier today GAFCON had issued this press release:

GAFCON and the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury will visit GAFCON primates just before the opening of GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi.

GAFCON Primates are holding a two day meeting, then 1200 leaders and lay people from the UK, Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South America will fly in to Nairobi for the Global Anglican Future Conference starting on Monday, October 21st.

GAFCON Chairman Eliud Wabukala invited Archbishop Justin Welby to send greetings to the conference and he indicated he was unable to do so in person because of commitments during the week. His office has since confirmed he will make a flying visit to speak with the Primates.

The general secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Dr Peter Jensen, says “The Archbishop’s decision to come to the Primates meeting is a recognition of the importance of such a large and significant gathering of Anglicans from around the world and he will be made very welcome.”

Posted October 7, 2013


Bishops' working costs for 2012

Bishops’ Office and Working Costs for 2012 have been published today, along with this press release.

Bishops’ Office and Working Costs Published

The 2012 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001.

The costs of their offices and the work of the bishops for 2012 was £20.0 million compared to a cost of £19.5 million in 2011, an annual increase of 2.5%.

This figure includes the work of the two Archbishops and the 113 bishops in the Church of England – 44 diocesan (leading) bishops and 69 suffragan (deputy) and fulltime assistant bishops, including area bishops and provincial episcopal visitors.

Included within the 2012 figure is approximately £2.8 million for legal costs during the year. House running costs for all bishops as a total was just over 750,000.

An annual block grant is made by the Church Commissioners to diocesan bishops to cover the bishops’ stipends, staff and working costs. The bishops determine how their funding is used. The Commissioners’ Board of Governors agreed to increase funding for the Archbishops by 2 per cent and for the bishops by 4 per cent, year on year for the 2011-2013 triennium.

Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2012 are published on the Church of England website at:

The media have been sent this additional Note to Editors.

  • The report includes a description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.
  • The 113 diocesan and suffragan bishops of the Church of England institute and support the ministry of all clergy and lay ministers in their dioceses, as well as providing pastoral support to them. Each diocesan bishop has ultimate oversight of several hundred clergy, Readers and lay workers and of a diocesan budget and portfolio of assets.
  • In addition to diocesan responsibilities, such as ordinations and diocesan festivals, and engaging with the communities which they serve, bishops often chair or serve on national and international Church boards and councils, as well as large charities, special commissions or public inquiries. They are involved in the growing work towards visible unity with other denominations both nationally and internationally and in work with other faiths.
  • Twenty-six diocesan bishops sit in the House of Lords: at least one is present every day and others will attend according to the subjects under debate that day. The Bishop of Sodor & Man sits in the Tynwald.

Costs for earlier years are available here.


OFSTED criticises Religious Education in English schools

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) has issued a report on Religious Education in English schools.

You can find the full report text, and a summary, on this page. OFSTED itself says:

Religious education (RE) makes a significant contribution to pupils’ academic and personal development. It also plays a key role in promoting social cohesion and the virtues of respect and empathy, which are important in our diverse society. However, the potential of RE was not being realised fully in the majority of the schools surveyed for this report.

The report identifies barriers to better RE and suggests ways in which the subject might be improved. The report is written for all those who teach RE, for those who lead the subject, and for headteachers of primary and secondary schools.

The key findings of the report are copied in full below the fold.

The Church of England issued this statement:

The Revd Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England’s Chief Education officer has issued a statement in response to today’s publication from Ofsted Religious education: realising the potential which says that schools and the government have failed to focus effectively on religious education.

“It is no comfort to us that Ofsted’s detailed report on the state of Religious Education in this country’s schools confirms all the messages we have been giving the Secretary of State over the last two years. The Report places the blame for poor standards squarely on government policy. In particular the removal of support and squeeze on places for training RE teachers is a scandal and will take years to reverse. RE is still core curriculum in Church schools and we repeat our offer to the Mr Gove to work with him and the whole RE community to improve commitment and competence in this essential part of every child’s education.”

Media coverage is extensive:

Telegraph Ofsted: Christianity sidelined in poor quality RE lessons

Independent Ofsted says religious education teaching ‘not good enough’

BBC Over half of schools failing in religious education, says Ofsted

Observer Church of England attacks Michael Gove over state of religious education

Mail on Sunday The pupils who are so badly taught they don’t even know who Jesus was

Express Schools failing pupils on RE

The BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday also covered it at length, starting about 30 minutes in.



Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Republic of South Africa passed its Civil Union Act in 2006. This permits same-sex relationships to be registered as either civil partnerships or as marriages.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (a province which encompasses Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and the island of St Helena) issued this press release (among others) on Friday: Anglican Church of Southern Africa considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged its bishops to provide guidelines for giving pastoral care to same-sex couples who have entered civil unions under South African law.

The Church’s ruling Provincial Synod, currently meeting in Benoni, South Africa, on Friday adopted a resolution urging its Synod of Bishops to finalise guidelines “as soon as possible”.

The Church neither marries same-sex couples, nor ordains or licenses priests or deacons who live in same-sex unions. This is in line with the practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

However, in the words of the Right Revd Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, during a debate at the Synod, “civil unions are a reality, whether we like it or not.”

Proposing the resolution, Bishop Breytenbach acknowledged he was on the “conservative” side of the debate. But, he continued, all God’s people needed pastoral care and “we have people in our church who are same-gender couples who regard themselves as married, even though I find it difficult to accept.”

The Right Revd Garth Counsell of Table Bay – from the diocese of Cape Town, which is seen as more open to recognising same-sex marriage – said the resolution was “not talking about same sex- marriage or whether we will do that or not.” It was rather about “confronting legal reality”…

The full text of the resolution is included in the release and is copied below the fold.




Mathew Guest writes about University and the Christian faith: revisiting the relationship. A version of this article appeared in the Church Times on 13 September where it is only available to subscribers.
There is also this article about work by Dr Guest and his colleagues: Church faces “difficult decision” to engage liberal Christian students.

John L Allen Jr writes in The Spectator about The war on Christians.

Vicky Beeching interviews Kate Cooper and asks her Have women been airbrushed out of Church history?

Milton Jones asks is Christianity weird? in a video for the Guardian.


Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Communion News Service has announced today that Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Its Provincial Synod today unanimously voted to ratify the decision taken at its previous meeting in 2010 to adopt the Covenant. This completes the legal process.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, proposed the motion. Addressing the Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, Johannesburg, he emphasised ACSA’s commitment to being at the heart of Anglican life, often acting as a bridge-builder, and drawing on its own experiences of living with considerable diversity and wrestling with difference.

Seconding the motion, the Dean of the Province, Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal, quoted from the Introduction to the Covenant:

6. To covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith. Rather, we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ (2 Cor 1.20-22).

With debate only addressing a minor wording amendment, the motion was passed without dissent.

The text of the motion is given below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

This Synod

1. Notes ­the adoption of the Anglican Covenant at the Provincial Synod of 2010;

2. Recommits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ;

3. Reaffirms its belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant:

We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these following affirmations and commitments. As people of God, drawn from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7.9), we do this in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4.3,13).

4. Resolves to confirm its adoption of the Anglican Covenant.


GAFCON 2013 goes ahead in Nairobi

Despite the recent violence in Nairobi, the second GAFCON conference is going ahead there, see GAFCON II is a go.

Anglican Mainstream has published the following: Why GAFCON 2013 and What is FCA? Full text copied below the fold.

Some other articles related to this:

Vinay Samuel An Overview of the Anglican Communion Today – From communion to coalition.

Bob Bettson ANALYSIS: Anglican Communion faces troubled waters

Sue Careless Reviving Communion

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala Chairman’s September Pastoral Letter

And for a different perspective, see Bosco Peters GAFCON.

Our previous reports on GAFCON related items were:



Update on Peshawar casualties

Titus Presler has published this Peshawar All Saints’ update: bomb casualty toll; funds appeal; other bombings.

In a conversation from Peshawar today, Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters of the Diocese of Peshawar said that the confirmed death toll from the bombing at All Saints’ Church on Sept. 22 in the old section of the city stands at 127, with 170 injured.

“It has been just devastating,” he said. “Quite a few children are paralyzed, and others are orphaned. This is a terrible time for the Christian community.” Financial assistance is urgently needed to support the families of the dead and injured, he said.

Government officials, including the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and federal ministers, have visited in order to express concern and condolence. The bishop has met with them either at All Saints’, where he has been based over the week, or at his home on the grounds of St. John’s Cathedral.

Yesterday’s car bomb in Qissa Khawani bazaar was detonated nearby while the All Saints’ congregation was again at worship on the first week’s anniversary of the Sept. 22 bomb. “People were in a panic, and there was such a rush,” Bp. Humphrey said, “but after about 25 minutes we were able to get them settled and resume the service.” The bomb killed 40 people and was reported to have exploded about 300 yards from All Saints’, near a mosque and a police station. On Friday, 19 people died when a bomb planted on a bus carrying government employees exploded in the outskirts of Peshawar.

Today’s confirmed count of 127 dead and 170 wounded from the Sept. 22 bomb is lower than the initial reports of 150 dead and 200 wounded, but it is considerably higher than the figure of 85 dead that is being circulated by global news media. Peshawar’s overall death toll from bomb blasts for the week is 176…


Assessing the evidence on faith schools

Updated Wednesday

Theos has published a report: More than an Educated Guess: Assessing the evidence on faith schools.

The Bishop of Oxford has welcomed the report: Bishop of Oxford welcomes report by think-tank Theos on faith schools.

The full text of the report can be downloaded as a PDF from here.

Theos says:

The Church pioneered mass education in Britain but over the last ten years, as the ‘church school´ sector has morphed into ‘faith schools’, the role of religious groups and institutions within the education sector has become highly contentious.

Much of the debate is by nature ideological, revolving around the relative rights and responsibilities of parents, schools and government in a liberal and plural society. Invariably, however, ideological positions draw on evidence pertaining to the actual experience and impact of ‘faith schools’. Questions like – Are‘faith schools’ socially divisive? Are they exclusive and/or elitist? Is there a special faith school effect on pupils? Is there anything distinct about the educational experience offered by faith schools? – become key to the debate.

Unfortunately, this significance is not always matched by subtlety, with the answers given and conclusions drawn frequently going beyond what the evidence actually says. More than an Educated Guess attempts to give an honest and accurate picture of what the evidence does say. Drawing on an extensive range of studies on faith schools in England, the report shows that, while there is evidence about their social and educational impact, it is rarely simple or straightforward, and that conclusions drawn from it should be tentative – certainly, more tentative than they have been of late. Ultimately, the authors argue, we need to be more honest about what the evidence says, and should avoid treating faith schools as a proxy debate for the wider question of faith and secularism in public life.

More than an Educated Guess will be an essential contribution to a major public conversation, which will make uncomfortable reading for participants on each side of the debate.

John Bingham at the Telegraph has written: Faith schools protests dragging children into ideological ‘battleground’ – bishop. He quotes Andrew Copson of the BHA as saying:

“Although the report masquerades as a new, impartial, survey of evidence surrounding faith schools, it is in fact mere apologetics in favour of such schools.

“The report omits evidence, misrepresents evidence and even makes basic errors about types of school and types of data that totally undermine any attempt to take it seriously…”


The British Humanist Association has now published a detailed criticism of the report, which can be read in full as a PDF here, or see this article: Worse than an educated guess: BHA responds to Theos report on ‘faith’ schools.

Theos has responded to this, with More than an Educated Guess: a Response to the British Humanist Association or there is a fuller document available as a PDF here.