Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Updated again Wednesday evening

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the Channel Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.

The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.

The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the Islands. He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which they met local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries.

The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the Islands’ formal relationship with the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.

The news was broken by Peter Ould on his blog yesterday: Jersey to Canterbury (and Dover). He has further covered the story today here and, in an interview with BBC Jersey, here.

Channel Television has this report: Jersey church splits from Winchester.


The following pastoral letter from the Bishop of Winchester has been published, though as yet not on the Winchester diocesan website. Via Anglican Ink.

Winchester Pastoral Letter Jan 2014

I wanted to contact you all following Lambeth Palace’s announcement today that the Bishop of Dover is to take temporary responsibility for episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands. This follows a proposal I took to the Archbishop of Canterbury last year, which has now been supported and implemented by Archbishop Justin and his colleagues and which also has the backing of representatives from the Islands.

It will be evident to a number of you that, what began as an important and ongoing safeguarding matter in Jersey last year has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues. The safeguarding investigations will, of course, continue and I hope in time we will benefit from improvements to our policies to help vulnerable people in the Islands and across the Diocese. Nevertheless, I am all too conscious of the additional, fundamental issues that have been raised and I believe they also warrant urgent and full attention. Equally I believe that the best way of achieving the reconciliation that we all want is for me to step back for now from the tensions that have arisen and allow for fresh, external input. I am very grateful therefore that Bishop Trevor is able to devote the time to take on this role, on a temporary basis, bringing with him knowledge of the Channel Islands as a former Bishop of Basingstoke.

The Islands have a centuries-old, cherished relationship with the rest of the Diocese to which I remain fully committed. From a practical perspective, the Archbishop and I have agreed it is necessary for the Islands to continue to pay their parish share during this period, so that normal ministry and mission remain unaffected.

Archbishop Justin has also announced that he will put in place a Commission to examine fully the legal and political challenges that have arisen. I feel that, in time, this process will play an important part in healing and reaffirming relations going forward.

Finally, I ask you all to hold Bishop Trevor in your prayers as he undertakes this work and want to thank you for your devotion to the mission and ministry of the Church in this Diocese.


Pilling: Christian Concern lobbies the Bishops

From the website of Christian Concern:

ACTION: Ask the Bishops to stand up for marriage

On 28th November 2013, the Church of England published a crucial report by the House of Bishops Working Group on Sexuality (Pilling Report), outlining its recommendations for the recognition of same-sex relationships by the CofE.

The Report suggests that, while the Church of England should not change its official teaching on marriage and sexuality, it should enter into a period of “facilitated conversions” to allow local clergy to bless same sex partnerships informally, using unauthorised liturgies.

However, to allow informal blessings of same-sex relationships, while claiming not to change the church’s teaching, would in practice and in fact, change the church’s traditional teaching on the issue.

The College of Bishops meets next Monday (27th January) to give serious consideration to the proposals put forward by the Pilling Report.

Please write to the Bishops, urging them to affirm the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage and sexuality and to give courageous leadership which is faithful to Scripture.

Concerns about the Report which you may wish to make are:

  • The report as a whole appeals to the secular world-view by seeking to accommodate same sex relationships
  • The liberal view of Scripture adopted by the Report is hugely concerning as it suggests that Scripture does not offer conclusive teaching on the issue of homosexual practice
  • The Report wrongly claims that Scripture and theology are apparently unclear on the rightness of homosexual practice, but urges the church to go ahead and bless such practice anyway, as long as the relationships are ‘permanent, faithful and stable’
  • The Bible offers clear teaching on how humans are best able to flourish and we appeal to you as Bishops to reinforce the commitment to biblical teaching
  • Permitting services to bless same sex unions would be a direct denial of the authority and teachings of the Bible, and would result in serious division, distress and acrimony within the Church
  • Allowing clergy to offer an informal blessing, and claiming that this does not change traditional Anglican teaching, is too fine a distinction and potentially contradictory for the wide Christian community and beyond
  • True pastoral care in the case of those experiencing same-sex attraction is to help them live Christianly and it is wrong to separate teaching and practice
  • Please also ask the Bishops to support the strong dissent to the Report issued by the Bishop of Birkenhead, which you can read here >

Click here to read the full text of the Pilling Report >

See below for contact details of the Bishops [scroll down for email list of diocesan bishops only]


Equality & Religious Freedom: What accommodation is reasonable?

The Cutting Edge Consortium invites you to discuss:

Equality & Religious Freedom: What accommodation is reasonable?

Tuesday 4th February 6.30pm
House of Commons Committee Room 15

With Speakers:

  • Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers
  • Carola Towle, National LGBT Officer UNISON
  • Frank Cranmer, Honorary Research Fellow Centre for Law & Religion, Cardiff University

This meeting is kindly sponsored by Sadiq Khan MP
Please email Cutting Edge Consortium to register your attendance


New Bishop of Exeter is announced

10 Downing Street has announced: Diocese of Exeter: Robert Atwell nomination approved:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Robert Ronald Atwell, BA, MLitt, Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, for election as Bishop of Exeter in succession to the Right Reverend Michael Laurence Langrish, BSocSc, MA, DD, on his resignation on 31 August 2013.

Robert Atwell, aged 59, studied for the ordained ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his first curacy at John Keble Church, Mill Hill, London from 1978 to 1981.

From 1981 to 1987 he was Chaplain at Trinity College, Cambridge. From 1987 to 1998 he was a Benedictine monk at Burford Priory, Oxfordshire.

From 1998 to 2008 he was Vicar of St Mary’s, Primrose Hill, and Director of Post-Ordination Training in the Edmonton Area of the Diocese of London. Since 2008 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.

Robert Atwell is single. His interests include gardening, theatre, films, music and novels.

The Diocese of Exeter has announced: Next Bishop of Exeter Named:

The next Bishop of Exeter is the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, currently Bishop of Stockport in the Diocese of Chester. His appointment was announced this morning by the Prime Minister’s office.

View photos throughout the day on our Pinterest Board >
Follow our news on Twitter > and Facebook >

Bishop Robert will become the 71st bishop of the Diocese of Exeter which comprises more than 500 parishes across the county of Devon…


Time to Change

I have signed the Time to Change pledge to end the stigma attached to mental illness. I encourage you to join this campaign in the UK, or similar campaigns where you live. Like many of you, I have been close to a number of people who have struggled with poor mental health. I became my late father’s carer in the last years of his life. It was only then that I recognised how we had colluded as a family in not knowing about his mental state for years. He was relatively well supported; but this did not prevent his early death as a result of the physical consequences of his struggle with life.

Research reveals that nine out of ten people in Britain who live with some form of mental illness are stigmatised. As if the illness were not enough to cope with, they are penalised in the workplace and over welfare benefits. They are shunned and laughed at. Worse still, moral blame is still applied to those living with persistent mental illness. We are frightened of it because it is so close to us and any one of us call fall prone to it in some form. It is also scary that, while there can be periods of recovery in any illness, the condition itself may well be chronic and incurable.

Understandably, we all dread that prospect for ourselves or for our loved ones; but it does not follow that we should blame sufferers for reminding us of their need. The media do not help. Of course, it is a tragedy if a psychotic person becomes dangerous and does serious harm to another person. The way that this is often reported suggests that people with mental health needs are likely to be dangerous. The sad truth is that most of those who suffer psychosis, or clinical depression or severe bi-polar illness are only likely to be a danger to themselves as they feel they can no longer endure the isolation and pain.

The gospel record reveals that it was the wandering bedlamites of Judaea and Galilee who first recognised who Jesus really was. Like shepherds and tax collectors and other outsiders, they became his special care. People came to hear him preach because they had first heard or witnessed his power as the kind of healer who could bring peace to a person with multiple personalities called Legion. I often reflect on the person of Mary Magdalene who is set free from her prison of tormented illness to be the apostle to the apostles. A powerful sculpture of Mary as an old woman by Donatello reveals someone who bears the marks of her illness still, but is on the front foot ready to be a witness of the love which could reach even her lowest depths. Shakespeare was someone who obviously understood a good deal about mental illness. His portrayal of King Lear is an astonishing mapping of descent into mental illness and also of the arrival of new insight and reconciliation through it.

Not so long ago I confirmed someone who lives with severe mental illness who joked that, after being committed to hospital twenty-eight times, at last his religious delusions were being taken seriously. It behoves us as Christians to welcome those who come to our churches and to work directly for much better social inclusion, both for sufferers and for their carers. Research commissioned by the Department of Health concluded that faith, worship and fellowship can have a profound therapeutic impact upon the wellbeing of people living with mental illness. Isolation and despair are met by belonging and hope. We know of conspicuous examples of very talented people with a bi-polar condition who make and have made significant contributions to our history and culture. There are talented but poorly people worshipping with us who not only need our prayer and loving staying power but who also deserve our respect for their humanity and for what they offer as witnesses to God. They offer us insight into the Saviour who abides with us and knows us when all props are taken away and when even our identity is threatened.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139.7–12)

Stephen Conway is Bishop of Ely.



The Quotidian Cleric publishes The Perfect Job Advert.

Jonathan Clatworthy writes for Modern Church about Two directions for liberal theology.

Oliver Burkeman writes in The Guardian about The one theology book all atheists really should read.

Phil Groves writes for the Anglican Communion News Service: What should we do when Christians disagree?

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church writes Why Christians shouldn’t believe in the devil.
[This refers to an article by Gavin Ashenden in the Church Times which subscribers can read here.]


update on anti-gay legislation in Uganda and Nigeria

The situation in Uganda has become even less clear than before. Jim Burroway reports in this article: Status of Uganda’s Anti-Homosesexuality Bill Is Completely Up in the Air … Including, Possibly, Its Death Penalty.

… Earlier this morning Kampala time, Daily Monitor reported that President Yoweri Museveni had “blocked” the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which had been passed in Parliament in December with an apparent lack of quorum. (The pro-government New Vision makes no mention of Museveni’s letter, at least not on its online edition. The Uganda Media Centre, the government’s official press office, is similarly silent this morning.) Most other major media outlets reporting on this development are citing the Daily Monitor story.

Museveni’s letter to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga criticizing Parliament’s vote on December 20 was dated December 28 but only made public today. All of this leaves up in the air the bill’s precise status. Does Museveni’s letter represent a formal rejection of the legislation under the Constitution’s Article 91 (3) (b)? That seems to be the assumption most media outlets are making. It’s certainly what the Daily Monitor story implies, although it doesn’t say so explicitly…

The original Daily Monitor article is here: Museveni blocks Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

This development has also been picked up by the BBC: Uganda President Yoweri Museveni blocks anti-gay law.

Meanwhile, in relation to the similar legislation in Nigeria, there is this report explaining The Simple Reason Nigeria Just Banned Gay Marriage And Gay Meetings.

Also, Ekklesia has this commentary by Savi Hensman Nigeria’s anti-gay law: persecuting minorities, forsaking Christ.

And today, a petition has been launched, directed at the Archbishops of Canterbury and York: please speak out against human rights abuses in Nigeria.

Dear Archbishops Justin and John,

As you will know, Nigeria has just enacted some of the most extreme anti-gay laws on the planet. The Church of Nigeria, in particular retired Archbishop Akinola, has been supporting the bill for many years, and only last year the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Asaba, Justus Mogekwu, appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to assent to the anti-gay marriage bill. As Anglicans [and fellow Christians of other traditions], we call on both of you to oppose these laws, publicly and privately, in word and deed.

The new Nigerian laws include the following draconian provisions:

  • Up to 14 years in jail for people in same-sex relationships
  • Up to 10 years for anyone who ‘directly or indirectly’ shows same-sex affection in public.
  • Up to 10 years in jail for anyone who participates in an organisation which works to protect gay rights, including straight allies. This could criminalise human rights defenders and even two people just meeting for a coffee if they are known to be gay or bisexual.

The situation is urgent. Sweeping arrests of gay people are already taking place in some parts of the country. A man in Bauchi has already endured 20 lashes, ordered by a court, for ‘homosexual offences’.

Anglicans have different points of view on whether it is morally acceptable to enter a sexual relationship with somebody of the same gender. But surely we can all agree that nobody should be locked up because of who they love and nobody should be locked up for organising against an unjust law?

Even the hardline Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference committed the Anglican Communion to opposing ‘irrational fear of homosexuals’. It is time for that opposition to take the form of concrete action.

In the Gospels, Christ tells us that whatever we do for the least of His brothers and sisters, we do for Him. He also says that whatever we ask the Father in His name will be granted. We believe that your influence can limit the degree to which these laws are implemented and can help prevent their spread to other parts of Africa.

Remaining silent means turning a blind eye as some of the most vulnerable people on the planet are imprisoned or flogged. It also risks destroying the credibility of Christianity in England and many other parts of the world where homophobia is considered scandalous.


Women in the Episcopate: Forward in Faith responds to latest drafts

Press release from Forward in Faith:

Women in the Episcopate: The Latest Drafts

Jan 17, 2014

Women in the Episcopate: Draft House of Bishops’ Declaration and Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations

Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the House of Bishops’ report (GS 1932 – available from

In commenting on the proposals in November we set out three matters that still needed to be resolved. We are grateful that two of them have been addressed: the draft Declaration now contains transitional provisions, and the House of Bishops’ Standing Orders will provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod support the amendment. We also welcome the other minor improvements which the House has made to the draft Declaration and Regulations.

However, we note that the draft Declaration does not address the third of the matters that we raised in November. Para. 42 of the Steering Committee’s report (GS 1924) pointed to the need for ‘an agreed way of proceeding’ with regard to ‘issues that will arise in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops’, including the ‘further and sharper issues that will arise in due course as and when there is a woman archbishop’. The Steering Committee was clear in envisaging ‘an overall, balanced package’ and that the dioceses should ‘vote on the legislation in the knowledge of how all the elements of the package fit together’ (para. 42).

It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole.

We also note the publication of a first draft of the Guidance Note for Bishops and Parishes (GS Misc 1064). Forward in Faith will study this closely.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham


General Synod agenda – early press reports

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England could appoint first female bishop ‘by Christmas’

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England could name first woman bishops ‘by Christmas’

Liz Dodd The Tablet Women bishops could be appointed by Christmas if Church of England Synod can clear final hurdles

Madeleine Davies Church Times Women bishops possible in 2014, says Fittall


General Synod Agenda

The usual pre-Synod press release, summarising the agenda, was issued this morning.

Agenda for February 2014 Synod
17 January 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England meets in London in February for a three day meeting from 2.00 pm on Monday 10th February until 5.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February.

The agenda for the meeting is published today. The main item of business will be the Revision Stage for the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. In an unusual move, this will be taken on the floor of the Synod without there having been a prior Revision Committee. There will also be three other debates as part of the women bishops process: on the Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure agreed by the House of Bishops in December; to initiate the process to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod; and to suspend part of the Standing Orders in order to accelerate the process for referring the legislation to the dioceses. These debates will take up much of Tuesday 11th February.

There will also be debates on Gender-Based Violence, the Girl Guides’ Promise, the environment and fossil fuels and the use of vesture in Church services. The Group of Sessions will conclude with a presentation on the report from the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality. A Diocesan Synod Motion from the Guildford Diocesan Synod on the Magna Carta is listed as Contingency Business.

On the Monday afternoon there will be a presentation on Ethical Investment by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The EIAG will give an overview of the Church of England’s approach to ethical investment, in particular the work it has done on reflecting the Church’s position on alcohol more faithfully and supporting purposeful investment in business. It will summarise the issues that the EIAG is currently working on, including the use of pooled funds in ethical investment and an ethical investment approach to climate change.

This will be followed by a further policy-focused debate, this time on Gender-Based Violence. The debate will be preceded by a short presentation by Mandy Marshall and Peter Grant who are co-directors of Restored Relationships, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

Each session will be followed by a Question and Answer session with Synod members. The debate on Gender-Based Violence will be followed by a brief period of worship.

The sequence of business of Tuesday 19th November in relation Women in the Episcopate will be as follows. First, the Synod will debate a motion from the House of Bishops inviting the Synod to welcome the draft House of Bishops’ draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Regulations. Secondly, there will be the Revision Stage on the floor of the Synod of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. Thirdly, Synod will give initial consideration to a draft Act of Synod to rescind the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. Finally, there will be a motion to suspend part of Standing Order 90 to reduce the normal minimum length of time for an Article 8 Reference to the dioceses from six months to three months to allow a faster passage of the final stages of the Women in the Episcopate legislation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address on the morning of Wednesday 12th February.

This will be followed by a debate on a package of proposals for legislative change in relation to safeguarding and related disciplinary matters, which has been developed in response to the reports of the Chichester commissaries. This includes making it easier to suspend clergy, or bring complaints against them, where abuse is alleged, enabling bishops to compel clergy to undergo risk assessments and imposing a duty on relevant persons to have regard to the House of Bishops’ safeguarding policies. The intention is to introduce legislation in July 2014 but given the importance and range of the proposals this report gives Synod the opportunity to consider the package in February before the legislation is prepared.

Later that morning, there will be a debate on a motion from the Southwark Diocesan Synod on Environmental Issues. This will build further on the work being carried out by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG). The Diocesan Synod Motion calls for the establishment of a General Synod Working Group on the Environment to look into this further.

Two Private Members’ Motions will be debated on Wednesday afternoon. The first, tabled by Mrs Alison Ruoff (London Diocese), references the recent changes to the Girl Guides’ Promise. The second, to be moved by the Reverend Christopher Hobbs, calls on the General Synod to amend Canon B 8 so that the wearing of the forms of vesture referred to in that Canon ‘becomes optional rather than mandatory’.

Finally, there will be a presentation from Sir Joseph Pilling on the recent Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human Sexuality which was published on 28 November. There will be an opportunity for questions on the process and next steps on the Pilling Report.

Click here for General Synod February Agenda and Papers

My usual list of online papers is here (women in the episcopate) and here (other items).


February General Synod – online papers

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet in London from Monday 10 February to Wednesday 12 February, and papers are now available online. I have already listed those relevant to Women in the Episcopate in an earlier posting and here are the remainder.

GS 1930 – Agenda

GS 1931 – Report by the Business Committee [Monday]

GS 1933 – Gender-Based Violence: Report by the MPA Council [Monday]

GS 1935 – Draft Church of England (Naming of Dioceses) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1936 – Draft Church of England (Pensions) (Amendement) Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1936x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1937 – Draft Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1937x – Explanatory Memorandum

GS 1938 – Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1939 – Legal Officers (Annual Fees) (Amendment) Order 2014 [Tuesday]
GS 1938-9x – Explanatory Memorandum [item 506]

GS 1940 – The Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1940x – Explanatory Memorandum [item 505]

GS 1941 – Safeguarding [Wednesday]

GS 1942A & GS 1942B – Diocesan Synod Motion: Environmental Issues [Wednesday]

GS 1943A & GS 1943B – Private Member’s Motion: Girl Guides’ Promise [Wednesday]

GS 1944A & GS 1944B – Private Member’s Motion: Canon B8 [Wednesday]

GS 1945A & GS 1945B – Private Member’s Motion: Magna Carta cContingency business]

Other Papers issued to members

GS Misc 1065 – Church Stipends Report 2013

GS Misc 1067 – Dioceses Commission Annual Report 2013

1st Notice Paper
2nd Notice Paper

HB(13)M4 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions December 2013

A zip file containing all the papers is also available.


February General Synod – women in the episcopate

General Synod will be debating the latest proposals on women in the episcopate on Tuesday 11 February. The relevant papers have been released today.

The actual items of business can be found in the Agenda (GS 1930). In addition there are these papers.

GS 1932 – Draft Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests and Draft Reolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations
GS 1925A – Draft Bishops and priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1926A – Draft Amending Canon No.33
GS 1934 – Draft Act of Synod Rescinding the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993
GS Misc 1064 – House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests – Guidance Notes for Bishops and Parishes
GS Misc 1068 – Note by the Legal Advisers on clause 2

The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1931) has the usual comments on individual items of business, and those for Women in the Episcopate are copied below the fold.



Church of England reports Signs of Growth

Press release from Church House: Signs of Growth:

…Key findings of the research include:

  • Significant Growth Fresh expressions of Church (new congregations and new churches) with around 21,000 people attending in the 10 surveyed areas of the 44 Church of England Dioceses.
  • Significant growth in Cathedrals, especially in weekday attendance. Overall weekly attendance grew by 35% between 2002 and 2012.
  • Declining numbers of children and young people under 16 – nearly half of the churches surveyed had fewer than 5 under 16s.
  • Amalgamations of churches are more likely to decline – the larger the number of churches in the amalgamation, the more likely they are to decline

There is more information in the press release.

Also, the executive summary of the Research is available as a PDF [link altered].

More detail is on this website.

The detailed study of Fresh Expressions can be found at the Church Army website.


ACNA priest to become a Six Preacher at Canterbury Cathedral

Lambeth Palace has announced: Archbishop appoints US priest as Canterbury preacher

Archbishop Justin hopes the Revd Dr Tory Baucum’s presence as one of Canterbury Cathedral’s Six Preachers will help promote ‘reconciliation and unity’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of the Revd Dr Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, as one of the Six Preachers of Canterbury Cathedral.

Dr Baucum will be installed as one of the Six Preachers during Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral on 14 March. The Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral unanimously approved the nomination of Dr Baucum shortly before Christmas.

The College of Six Preachers was created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1541, forming part of his plans for a new foundation to replace the dissolved Priory. Canterbury was unique in this; no other cathedral had a group of preaching priests and was a reflection of Cranmer’s determination to give greater prominence to preaching. Today, the Six Preachers are called to preach on various occasions at Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. The preachers serve five-year terms, which can be renewed.

While Dr Baucum has extensive experience of preaching, evangelism and peace-making, his appointment is also recognition of his commitment to reconciliation, which is one of Archbishop Justin’s ministry priorities. Truro Church seceded from the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in 2006 and subsequently became part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

When Dr Baucum became Rector in 2007, the church and the diocese were involved in litigation over property rights. Dr Baucum, a priest in ACNA, developed a close friendship with Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Shannon Johnston, and a settlement was subsequently reached.

Commenting on the appointment, Archbishop Justin said: “Tory is a fine scholar, an excellent preacher, and above all someone with a holistic approach to ministry. The close friendship he has forged with Bishop Shannon Johnston, despite their immensely different views, sets a pattern of reconciliation based on integrity and transparency. Such patterns of life are essential to the future of the Communion. I hope and pray that Tory’s presence as one of the Six Preachers will play a part in promoting reconciliation and unity among us.”

The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, said: “In recent times, the Six Preachers have become a significant and diverse group from across the whole Anglican Communion and fulfil a role of preaching and teaching from time to time in Canterbury. We look forward to welcoming Dr Baucum, whose particular gifts will enrich the group still further.”

Dr Baucum said: “I am deeply moved by the honour bestowed upon ACNA and especially the congregation of Truro Church in this appointment by Archbishop Welby to be a Six Preacher of Canterbury Cathedral. I am devoted to Archbishop Welby’s vision for the Anglican Communion and I hope this appointment might help, in some small way, translate that vision into reality.”

About the Revd Dr Tory Baucum

The Revd Dr Tory Baucum is the Rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, a post he has held since 2007. He holds degrees from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Asbury Theological Seminary. He also teaches at Virginia Theological Seminary. His areas of expertise include St Augustine, Wesley, homiletics, evangelism and contextual theology. He has ministered and taught in several Anglican provinces and theological colleges, including the Diocese of London, St Augustine’s in Lima Peru and Bishop Barham College in Kigezi, Uganda. Dr Baucum is Chairman of the Board of Fresh Expressions USA and a Board Member of Alpha-USA. He is married to Elizabeth and they have three teenage daughters.


Comments continue on the Pilling report

A question about the Pilling report was asked in the House of Commons this week:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): What assessment the Commissioners have made of the Pilling report, published by the House of Bishops working group on human sexuality in November 2013; and if he will make a statement. [901874]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The report was discussed by the House of Bishops in December and its recommendations will be considered by the College of Bishops later this month.

Mr Bradshaw: Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the report’s recommendation that parishes should be allowed to offer same-sex couples some sort of blessing would in effect simply formalise what already happens in practice in many Anglican parishes? Does he agree that the vast majority of Anglicans in this country would welcome a more generous approach to long-term, faithful, same-sex relationships?

Sir Tony Baldry: I agree with the principle that everyone should be welcome at the communion rail. The working group did not recommend a new authorised liturgy, but a majority of its members did recommend that vicars should, with the consent of parochial church councils, be able to mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service. I am sure that that is one of the issues that the House of Bishops will be considering very seriously in the context of its consideration of the Pilling report’s recommendations.

Rumblings against the report from conservatives at home and abroad continue to appear:

Andrew Symes writes on Anglican Mainstream “in a personal capacity” about 2014: The beginning of facilitated schism?

…Might it be possible that a Happy New Year in the Church of England might see, as this Bishop sees, an honest recognition that the differences over sexuality and underlying doctrinal and philosophical systems are so great that we need to at least talk about separating? Could it be a good thing to walk apart, rather than perpetuating the fiction that we all really believe the same things? And in doing so, could this be done peacefully, with justice, fairness and mutual respect, recognizing that there are still many areas of common interest, such as good administration of buildings insurance and clergy pensions, care for the poor and vulnerable, and the need to preserve the proclamation of the Christian story in society even though we might interpret it differently?

Robert Lundy Communications Officer for the American Anglican Council writes about Crisis Comes to Church of England:

…2013 started with controversial events and ended with more controversy. The Pilling Report, compiled by a special working group on human sexuality from the House of Bishops and released in November, suggested that the church allow “pastoral accommodation” and thus an informal public service for those in civil partnerships. From many Anglicans’ points of view, the document gave much more credence to a liberal view of scripture and was not representative of the church’s long-standing teaching. Sir Joseph Pilling, the report’s namesake, presented the document to the House of Bishops in December. From here the Church of England and entire Anglican Communion will wait to see if the bishops endorse the report or unequivocally repudiate it. The answer could come as soon as January 27th of 2014 when the full House of Bishops meets again…

For the record, the meeting on 27 January is of the College of Bishops, not the House of Bishops. The difference is very fully explained on this page.

This meeting of the College will not be attended by any outsiders other than the eight women clergy who have recently been elected to join them, and Sir Joseph Pilling himself. See this report by Colin Coward: No conversations about us without us:

Changing Attitude England participated in the LGB&T Anglican Coalition conversation last Saturday which agreed to write to William Fittall and others about the College of Bishops meeting on 27 January to discuss the Pilling Report.

The email said that members were unanimous in expecting that openly LGB&T people should be present at all future meetings taking forward the Pilling process, including the College of Bishops meeting planned for January 27. Our presence in the process is important if it is to be given full legitimacy by the wider Church and society.

Mr Fittall replied promptly to say that apart from Sir Joseph Pilling the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops is not inviting anyone to the meeting on 27 January who does not normally attend such meeting. He added that he would draw our note to the attention of Standing Committee members so that they are aware of the general point we make about how the process should now be carried forward…



Bishop David Thomson preached this sermon at a memorial service for the Revd John Graham. If you don’t know who John Graham was, you can read his obituary here.

Shane Blackshear describes 5 Ways To Be Unsatisfied With Your Church.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that The Church of England isn’t abandoning sin – nor should it.

Fr Andrew Stephen Damick writes on Coffeedoxy and Heterodoxy.

Dale M Coulter writes about A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?

We reported on the draft alternative baptism texts and early reactions to them here.
Since then Ian Paul blogs about Experimental Baptism and Madeleine Davies reports in the Church Times: Draft ‘baptism lite’ criticised.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian that The Church of England isn’t abandoning sin – nor should it.

Adrian Newman writes in the Church Times Good vicar = growing church? and the paper has this leader: Good vicars.
On the same topic Kevin Lewis blogs about a collateral benefit to existing.

Giles Fraser asks in The Guardian Given Uganda’s homophobia, why does it lead the way in Googling gay porn?


Giles Fraser speaks about homophobia and religion

On the BBC Radio 4 programme Thought for the Day, this morning, the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser talked about homophobia.

Thought for the Day – 10/01/2014 – Rev Dr Giles Fraser. (includes link to audio and full transcript)

Part of what he said:

…Of course, it’s not just football that has a problem with homophobia. If anything, it’s more difficult with religion where this attitude towards homosexuality can commonly be presented as having some moral or theological justification. But despite the widespread perception that faith is uniformly hostile to homosexuality, there are a significant number of people of faith who want to offer a minority report that insists being gay is no sort of moral issue – indeed, that the ways in which two adults express their love for each other physically ought to be celebrated as something precious, as something publically to affirm. What makes homophobia so especially wicked is that is traps people into a miserable life of clandestine relationships, continually fearful that they might one day be discovered and exposed for who they really are. Which is why having the guts to make such a public declaration of being gay, thus risking insults and name-calling – and in some countries considerably worse – is such a powerful witness to the truth.

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay” wrote Charles Wesley in a famous hymn about his religious conversion. “I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, 
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” He then goes on “No condemnation now I dread”. It was not, of course, a hymn about coming out of the closet, but about discovering and being able to speak the truth about oneself – and how liberating such truth-telling can be.

Nonetheless, these experiences are remarkably similar. “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses” wrote Gloria Gaynor in a rather different sort of anthem. And St John put it even more pithily: “The truth will set you free.”

And yet, for many, the truth may not necessarily set them free, but might even end up landing them in jail. In Uganda, for instance, a law is about to be enacted in which consensual gay sex can lead to a 14 year term of imprisonment. Indeed, it’s going to be a criminal offense if one fails to report gay people to the authorities. Whereas St John spoke of truth as leading to freedom and release, for others, however, the truth can lead to prison.


The heavens are opened

So. We arrive at the Baptism of Christ. We leave behind angels and dreams, shepherds and wise men, stable and census, and with the Baptism of Christ we arrive at history in the life of Jesus. We can be sure, I suggest, of two things: that John the Baptist existed; and that Jesus came and was baptized by him.

The existence and mission of the Baptist is attested not just by the gospels, but also by the Jewish historian Josephus. And Jesus’s baptism is recorded in the gospel according to Mark and that of Matthew; Luke briefly mentions it, and though John manages to get away without any explicit statement, he does relate the build-up and the aftermath.

In the accounts in Mark and Matthew, after his baptism Jesus sees the heavens open and the Spirit descend on him. In Luke the vision becomes an event seen by all; in the fourth gospel the Baptist himself has this vision as a witness to Jesus as Messiah.

Presumably Jesus had heard report of the Baptist and, perhaps with others, travelled out to see and hear him. And having seen and heard he was immersed in the water, just like many of the others who saw and heard. The synoptic gospels tell us this was a moment of great spiritual significance for Jesus. With the vision of the descent of the Spirit, perhaps it is at this point that Jesus decides to abandon his former life as a carpenter in Nazareth. Presumably he becomes a disciple of the Baptist, retreating into the wilderness for reflection and self-examination, and joining John in baptizing in the river Jordan.

And then John is arrested and is incarcerated in Herod’s prison and will soon meet his death at Herod’s whim. He was not the first person to fall victim to the wrath of a tyrant, and nor was he the last. A roll call of victims and prisoners of conscience would number in the tens of millions in the twentieth century alone. The list of current news stories at Amnesty International includes not just all the usual suspects — our own proud western democracies are not always beyond reproach either. The image at the top of this piece shows a detail of the ‘prisoners of conscience’ window at the east end of Salisbury Cathedral, where every day prayers are said for those held around the world. Let us too hold these people in our prayers and work for their freedom and the improvement of their lot. Let the oppressed go free.

Jesus meanwhile ‘withdraws’ (Matthew 4.12) to Galilee — very probably it was no longer safe for anyone linked to the Baptist to be in Herod’s territory. Luke tells us that Jesus’s first public act on his return to Galilee is to read in the synagogue at Nazareth:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

If this is historical, then is it too much to see it as an expectation by Jesus that in this year of the Lord’s favour the captive Baptist will be released — and that this is happening now? Not surprising that his message was not received favourably and he was driven out.

But with the arrest and decrease of the Baptist, it is time for Jesus to increase and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, the imminence of the kingdom of God. A kingdom based not on austerity or retreat to the wilderness but on justice for the oppressed and life in all its fullness. Here we are invited to sit and feast, accepted and welcomed into fellowship with the divine. In the subsequent ministry of Jesus baptism does not seem to be a prerequisite to ritual purity and to acceptance into the society of the ritually pure. Instead Jesus tells people their sins are already forgiven, and he accepts them without further ritual into society with him, sitting at table together and breaking bread.

Is it any wonder that it was these remarkable meals of Jesus that his followers continued — and that they continued to recognize his presence at the breaking of the bread? In this ritual we sit and eat at God’s table, and we break bread with our fellows, forgiving them the wrongs they have done us and receiving their forgiveness for the wrongs we have done them; and as we break bread together we recognize still the presence of Jesus, the incarnate Word.

And this begins with the baptism of Christ: the year of the Lord’s favour is now.

Simon Kershaw is one of the founders of Thinking Anglicans


Canadian church considers change to marriage canon

The Anglican Journal reports: Marriage canon commission members announced:

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, today announced the appointment of the members of a commission that will carry out a broad consultation about changing the marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage.

Canon Robert Falby, chancellor of the diocese of Toronto and former prolocutor of General Synod, will chair the eight-member commission. The other members are: Dr. Patricia Bays, Dean Kevin Dixon, the Rev. Dr. Paul Friesen, Canon Paul Jennings, Dr. Stephen Martin, Bishop Linda Nicholls and Archbishop John Privett.

In July 2013, General Synod—the church’s governing body—enacted Resolution C003, which will bring a motion concerning same-sex marriage to its next meeting in 2016. The resolution asked Council of General Synod (CoGS) to prepare and present a motion to change the church’s Canon 21 on marriage “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples.” It also asked that this motion include “a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in our authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.”

The resolution also directs that there be a broad consultation about the preparation of the motion. At its fall meeting, CoGS passed a motion to establish a commission on the marriage canon to carry out the consultation. At the meeting, Hiltz said membership of the commission would reflect “a diversity of theological perspective.”

More detail on the members of the commission can be found in this file and the full text of the commission’s terms of reference is available here.

The “broad consultation” referred to is also discussed in another news report, Anglicans, Roman Catholics ‘committed to dialogue’.

The detailed wording of the original General Synod resolution came about as the result of a substantial amendment which can be seen marked in green in this report.


Baptism Service

Updated Sunday afternoon and evening, Monday morning The update includes a link to the experimental texts.

The Mail on Sunday published this article by Jonathan Petre today: Welby casts out ‘sin’ from christenings: Centuries-old rite rewritten in ‘language of EastEnders’ for modern congregation. The online version is dated yesterday, but was updated early today.

The Mail on Sunday also carries this editorial: Embarrassed Church’s sin of omission.

Edward Malnick writes in the Telegraph: Church of England removes devil from christening service.

The Guardian carries this story from the Press Association: Church of England accused of dumbing down baptism service.

The Church of England issued this statement last night.

Statement on proposal to Synod on baptism service wording
04 January 2014

A Church of England spokesman said:
“The report in the Mail on Sunday (Jan 5) is misleading in a number of respects. The story claims that “the baptism ceremony had not been altered for more than 400 years until it was changed in 1980”. This is the third revision in 30 years.

The Baptism service currently used by the Church of England has been in use since Easter 1998. The wording of the service was amended by General Synod in 2000 and again in 2005.
In 2011 a group of clergy from the Diocese of Liverpool brought forward a motion to the General Synod of the Church of England requesting materials to supplement the Baptism service “in culturally appropriate and accessible language.” Specifically the motion requested new additional materials which would not replace or revise the current Baptsim service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service.

The Liverpool motion was passed by General Synod and as a consequence the liturgical commission has brought forward some additional materials for discussion by the General Synod at a future date where they will be subject to final approval by the Synod.

At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of the April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”

David Pocklington of Law &Religion UK comments: Sin + sound bites = Sales?


Miranda Prynne in The Telegraph Church of England accused of ‘dumbing down’ christening service

Sam Jones in The Guardian Church of England’s new baptism service condemned by former bishop

A booklet containing the full experimental additional texts for use in Holy Baptism is available for download: Christian Initiation: Additional Texts in Accessible Language. The booklet also contains guidance on their use, and a comparison with the current Common Worhsip texts. Clergy of the Church of England are reminded that under the provisions of Canon B 5A (Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods) these experimental texts may only be used in parishes authorized for this purpose by the archbishops.
[h/t Jeremy Fletcher]

Pete Broadbent doesn’t like the proposals: The experimental baptism rite – baptism lite.

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia asks Is baptism being watered down?

Emily Gosden writes in The Telegraph: Sin? People think it’s about sex and cream cakes, says Archdeacon in baptism service row.

Christina Odone comments in The Telegraph: Don’t ditch the devil, he’s done great service to Christianity.

The Church Times report of the 2011 General Synod debate is available: More ‘accessible’ baptism prayers on the cards.