Thinking Anglicans

Three parent baby law is 'irresponsible' says Church of England

Updated twice Sunday morning

That was the headline on a news report in the Telegraph by Sarah Knapton Science Editor of that newspaper: Three parent baby law is ‘irresponsible’ says Church of England ahead of vote.

Introducing laws to allow three parent babies would be ‘irresponsible’ the Church of England has said ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons next week.
Next Tuesday, MPs will vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and legalise mitochondrial DNA transfer.
Until now the Anglican Church has withheld judgement on the issue, asking for more scientific evidence. But today it announced that it could not support the legislation…

A later report by her was headlined: Scientists accuse Church of ignorance over three parent babies.

Scientists have accused the church leaders of refusing to examine overwhelming evidence which shows that the creation of three parent babies is ethical and safe.
The Anglican and Catholic churches have both warned that it would irresponsible for MPs to pass new laws allowing the DNA of a ‘second mother’ to be used to repair genetic faults in an unborn child.
They have called for more scientific evidence to prove that the child will not inherit characteristics from the donor DNA.

But scientists have accused the church of ignoring reams of scientific evidence, and the outcome of a public consultation which showed widespread support for the new ground-breaking IVF treatment.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Mitochondrial donation raises important ethical questions on which the Church of England can be expected to take a view.

“But it is remarkable that the Church has pronounced that there has been insufficient scientific study without first asking the scientists who lead this research, the families who stand to benefit, or the Wellcome Trust, which funds it, to explain the science to the Archbishop’s Council.
“The Church appears to have ignored the unprecedented independent scrutiny of scientific, ethical and public opinion about mitochondrial donation conducted over the last seven years.”

The report goes on to say that:

However the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, said he was backing the legislation change.
“As a bishop who has been closely involved with consultations around the technology, ethics, permissibility and regulation of mitochondrial replacement, I was more than a little surprised to read that the Church of England regards changing the law to permit this as irresponsible,” he said.
“Having been a member of the Oversight Group convened by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for an extensive public consultation around this technique it is difficult to see how a more thorough job might have been done to engage with individuals and organisations, and to explore the ethical and scientific dimensions raised. “

The official Church of England statement: Statement from Revd Dr Brendan McCarthy on Mitochondrial replacement therapy.

This links to the Mission and Public Affairs Council submission from May 2014 on mitochondrial replacement to the Department of Health consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques to prevent the transmission of a serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child.

And the strongly worded statement issued by the Wellcome Trust which was quoted in the second article in the Telegraph is available in full via this tweet.


Despite being quoted in the Telegraph earlier as shown above, the Bishop of Swindon is now apparently the joint author, with Brendan McCarthy, of an article on Comment is free entitled The Church of England and the three-parent controversy.

It does not take much to present the Church of England as divided, ignorant or out of touch. As the archbishop of Canterbury has observed, we do tend to conduct our arguments loudly and in front of the neighbours. But that does not mean we cannot agree and in the matter of the provocatively labelled “three parent embryos” there is greater consensus than recent headlines might suggest and a very different message from “the church says ‘no’.”

The Archbishops’ Council, through its division for mission and public affairs (MPA), has taken a keen interest in assisted reproductive technologies since their inception and sought to think through their implications for human identity and responsibility. In this task, the Church of England has sought to help wider society to reach wise judgments and hold tensions that can pull in different ethical directions. It has involved wrestling with dilemmas, quarrying our theological resources and discerning when a risk is not worth taking – and when it must be.

Mitochondrial replacement represents a novel way of enabling women at risk of passing on serious genetic disease to bear healthy children and prevent the passage of that abnormality to further generations. In 2012, the government asked the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority (HFEA) to seek the views of the public on two techniques for mitochondrial replacement. One of us was invited on to the oversight body for this consultation, a group that brought together a cross-section of stakeholders with hugely different attitudes and convictions…

There is also a further news report in the Observer today, by Robin McKie its Science Editor: Scientists strike back at Church of England over DNA transfer trials.

One of the most prominent supporters of a DNA technique designed to eradicate a range of inherited diseases has angrily condemned Church of England claims that MPs were being rushed into a vote to back the process. Consultation had been exemplary, he claimed.

Professor Douglas Turnbull, a Newcastle University scientist who works with women affected by mitochondrial disease, warned that this week’s parliamentary vote could be the UK’s last chance to pioneer the technique.

“I am glad this government has chosen to go ahead with a vote, but I am concerned about how that might play out,” he says. “A good number of MPs don’t appear to like the idea of mitochondrial transfer. If they vote it down then I think the technology could be lost for ever. We are due a new government and when it comes in, it will have other priorities. We may never get this chance again.”

And that would be a tragedy, he believes. There is no cure for mitochondrial disease, which is passed on to children from mothers who possess mutations in the DNA of the mitochondria in their bodies’ cells. The disease varies in its severity as it passes from generation to generation but can often be fatal.

But on Saturday, the church hit back at the criticism. The bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, and Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, the church’s medical ethics adviser, said it retained concerns about the possible interactions between DNA in mitochondria and the main DNA in a patient’s cell nucleus. “We want to ensure that as a nation we get such a significant treatment and its regulation right…”

And the Observer has editorial comment:

…We should therefore be clear: the issue facing MPs is the alleviation of the plight of several thousand women in Britain whose mitochondrial DNA puts them at severe risk of giving birth to offspring who will sicken and die. Mitochondrial replacement is a highly specific technique that has been developed to counter that illness and no other. There is no link between its development and the creation of a future in which reckless scientists toy with the genetic profiles of men and women and it is grossly unfair to use conjecture in order to taint a medical technique that will be carefully controlled and licensed and which offers so much to afflicted families.

It is a point that was raised in a letter to the Times last week by a group of the country’s most distinguished scientists and ethicists, including Baroness Warnock and Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston. They made it clear that the question facing parliamentarians on Tuesday is not whether they would want to use the technique themselves but whether there are good grounds to prevent affected families from doing so.

The answer to this point is unequivocal. There is no reasonable ethical justification in stopping families who are affected by the blight of this disease being given access to mitochondrial replacement. MPs therefore have a clear moral duty when they vote on Tuesday. They should approve the measure.



Ian Paul responds to the article by Linda Woodhead that I linked to last week: Who is ducking what in the C of E?

Justin Welby has blogged On tweeting and touching and preached this homily at Trinity Wall Street, New York.
Andrew Brown of The Guardian responds with this: Justin Welby’s Twitter sermon sounds like a plea for ecclesiastical discipline.

Angela Tilby Church Times Dissing the D-word

Giles Fraser The Guardian Even atheists such as Stephen Fry have Downton-esque nostalgia for the C of E

Graham Kings Fulcrum English Monk Who Encouraged the Ministry of Women. Also published in The Times (£).


WATCH Statement on the consecration arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley

WATCH published this statement yesterday.

Statement on the consecration arrangements for the Bishop of Burnley on 2nd February 2015
Posted on January 29, 2015

We rejoice that as a result of the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane the Church of England is living in a new era. We therefore recognise that these are early days in finding expression of the five guiding principles in practices that reflect the highest possible degree of communion. Decisions made now will inevitably come under scrutiny. As actions are tested within the community of the Church, we will all be reflecting upon them, and on the shape of mature practices that will in due course emerge to express wide communion and enable mutual flourishing. It will not be easy to do this well, but WATCH is committed to making a constructive contribution to this process from the perspective of its own core principles. For the moment that involves asking sharp questions about this particular consecration, and asking that reflection be done on those questions in a way which engages the wider church as well as those immediately involved.

We recognize that the Archbishop has had very difficult decisions to make about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley, and we know that he will have thought and prayed deeply about those decisions. This is the first significant test in practice of the Five Principles contained in the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and is therefore highly significant.

Given all of this, we would value an explanation of how the Archbishop reached his decision to be present but not to consecrate. We acknowledge that this is based in a wish to offer Christian generosity towards the dissenting minority. However, we are concerned about the theological and ecclesiological implications of this decision and its impact on the unity of the Church of England. Consecrations are public moments, of great significance, and the actions that take place within those rites, as with all Anglican rites, declare our belief as a Church, as much as any written documents. The visual symbol of a divided House of Bishops is a very powerful one, given how hard we have all worked to stay together in one church.

The Five Principles are the basis from which good practice needs to be worked out. In many cases it will not be straightforward to know how best to enable mutual flourishing within the highest degree of communion possible. Our hope is that when decisions are made which purport to aid the flourishing of all they will be carefully tested in terms of the perceptions they will create and their consequences, including the pain and offence they may cause. In our view, male bishops and archbishops will need to exercise particular diligence in this respect, as their common practice is so rooted in a previous male-only era. This will require significant efforts to hear the disparate views of all those most affected, and to help them listen to each other and work out a solution that all can assent to. It would be good to know that such collective wrestling underpins this decision.

What might the Archbishop’s decision to refrain from consecrating a bishop indicate? At the least, it appears to be a tacit endorsement of the rationale that his active laying on of hands would not be welcome by the candidate or a particular constituency that he represents. Given that, we believe it would be very helpful for the House of Bishops to invite the Faith and Order Commission to examine and explore this rationale and the theology underpinning it. That might help those who are perplexed to comprehend it, and therefore be more able to honour the faithfulness of its adherents.

Our greatest sadness is that the word ‘taint’ is in the atmosphere again. However much dissenters refute this as a basis for their beliefs, it is very hard to overcome the perception that because the Archbishop has consecrated a female bishop, he is now unacceptable as a consecrator of a dissenting bishop. This concept causes such deep damage to all of us but it cannot be avoided in these circumstances. We all know the message this conveys to members of the Church and wider society about how women are perceived.

All these issues have particular resonance in this case, as the Bishop of Burnley is a bishop for the whole church, not a PEV. We are concerned that he should be affirmed and upheld through his consecration as a bishop for the people of Blackburn Diocese, not as a bishop whose ministry will be directed solely towards the dissenting minority. He will share the cure of souls across Blackburn Diocese with female and male priests, and will minister across all parishes.

We are very aware of the individuals involved in this case who may find themselves in a spotlight that is unwelcome and unexpected. We pray particularly for them, and for grace and strength to live and speak faithfully in such demanding circumstances.


Consecrators of the Bishop of Burnley

The website of York Minster carries this notice.

The Service of Consecration for the Reverend Philip North
Tuesday 27 January

The Reverend Philip North, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley on Monday 2nd February 2015.

The Reverend Philip North, currently Team Rector of the Parish of Old St Pancras in the Diocese of London, will be consecrated as the Bishop of Burnley in the Diocese of Blackburn on Monday 2nd February 2015. The service will be conducted by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, assisted by the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester and the Bishops of Beverley and Pontefract.

Everyone is welcome to attend Philip’s consecration service. The service will begin at 11am with doors open from 9.30am. If you are a Reader or a member of the clergy wishing to attend and would like to robe and process, we do need to know in advance so we can plan seating for you and maximise seating for others. Please contact Hilary Reynolds email: for more information.

Although the notice does not explicitly say so, it seems reasonable to deduce that the Bishops of Chichester, Beverley and Pontefract are the three bishops who will lay hands on Philip North, and that the Bishop of Chichester will preside at the Eucharist.


The Rt Revd Libby Lane

Updated Monday evening and Tuesday morning

Church House press release

Rt Revd Libby Lane consecrated at York Minster
26 January 2015

The Rt Revd Libby Lane has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England in a packed service at York Minster today attended by more than 100 bishops from the Church of England and women bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

In a statement shortly after being consecrated, Bishop Libby said she had been encouraged by the thousands of messages of support she has received since the news of her appointment was announced. She said:

“Archbishop Sentamu has observed, “the way that we show our faith and our love for one another is with two simple things, prayer and parties.” Today is an occasion of prayer and of party – and I am thrilled that so many want to share in both. I cannot properly express how encouraged I have been in the weeks since the announcement of my nomination, by the thousands of messages I have received with words of congratulation, support and wisdom. I’ve heard from people of all ages, women and men – people I have known for years, and people I have never met; people from down the road, and people from across the world.

“Many those who have been in touch have little or no contact with the Church of England; not all have been people of faith, but every one of them has felt this moment marks something important. That all this personal – and media – attention has centred on me has been a little overwhelming: I cannot possibly live up to everyone’s expectation. And so today, at my consecration, I hold on to words of promise from the Bible, a reassurance that all this does not depend on me … ‘the God who calls you is faithful: He will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

“My consecration service is not really about me. With echoes of practice which has been in place for hundreds of years in the church, it is a reminder that what I am about to embark on is shared by the bishops around me, by those who have gone before me and those who will come after. It places the ministry of a bishop in the context of the ministry of all God’s people. And most importantly it retells the good news of Jesus, the faithful one, who calls each of us to follow him.

“Thank you to all who are praying for me and partying with me today. Please continue to hold me in your prayers as, after the example of St Timothy and St Titus who are celebrated by the Church on this day, I share in work of proclaiming the gospel, in word and action, and bearing witness to the name of Jesus.”

Early press reports (some of which give undue prominence to the lone protester)

Andrew Brown The Guardian First female Church of England bishop consecrated in York

BBC News Libby Lane: First female Church of England bishop consecrated

John Bingham The Telegraph Vicar tries to stop Rev Libby Lane being consecrated as Church of England’s first female bishop

Roisin O’Connor The Independent Libby Lane formally appointed first woman bishop by Church Of England

Claer Barrett Financial Times Church of England ordains first woman bishop

Yorkshire Post ‘Not in my name’: Protestor heckles first female bishop at York Minster service

Dave Walker I have modified my ‘Bishops’ cartoon


Gavin Drake Church Times C of E’s first woman bishop consecrated

York Mix 12 marvellous moments from the service to ordain #BishopLibby [pictures]

Andrew Brown The Guardian Libby Lane: not quite a Viking raid, but York sees history in the Minster

Jessica Elgot Huffington Post First Woman Bishop Ordained By Church Of England As Libby Lane Made Bishop Of Stockport [pictures]

Sally Hitchener The Independent Libby Lane’s appointment as the first female bishop might have been understated, but its importance echoes around the world

Carey Lodge Christian Today First woman bishop Libby Lane: ‘Pray for me as I share in the work of proclaiming the gospel’

BBC News In pictures: Church of England’s first woman bishop consecration [pictures]

Other links

Chester diocesan website Libby Lane is now Bishop of Stockport

And one piece of trivia. This is the bible presented to the new bishop: Nicholas King’s complete translation of his Study Bible. [h/t Helen-Ann Hartley]


Libby Lane

Updated Monday morning

The Revd Libby Lane will be consecrated as Bishop of Stockport in York Minster tomorrow (Monday) morning.

The Church of England has this published this interview. “Recorded on the day her appointment was announced, it has behind the scenes footage and a previously unseen interview with Libby as she reflects on her faith journey, and looks ahead to her new challenge.”

Press previews

The Guardian leader The Guardian view on Libby Lane’s consecration as bishop of Stockport: a hands-on approach

Jamie Doward and Aduke King The Observer First female bishop: I want to be a role model for girls

Matthew Davis Manchester Evening News New Bishop of Stockport to be consecrated at York Minster on Monday
[Despite what this article says, I can find no scheduled live broadcast of the consecration.]


John Bingham The Telegraph New era for Church of England as first female bishop consecrated
Women in the Church of England: a century of waiting

BBC News Libby Lane: First female bishop to be consecrated

Yorkshire Post Stage is set for the creation of first female bishop
C of E greets first woman bishop
John Sentamu: Alleluia that at last the Church shall have its women bishops

ITV News Libby Lane makes history becoming first Anglican Bishop



Linda Woodhead Church Times The challenges that the new C of E reports duck

Meri-Anna Hintsala Westminster Faith Faiths blog Putting a Church Online – Lessons from Finland

Church Times leader Right sort of growth

Michael Paulson New York Times Inequality as a Religious Issue: A Conversation With the Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech at ‘Creating the Common Good’ conference in New York


Burnley consecration: media reports and blog comments

Media reports:

Church Times Sentamu exercises ‘gracious restraint’ over traditionalist bishop’s consecration

BBC No ‘taint’ over first female bishop, archbishop says

Telegraph Sentamu rejects ‘taint’ claim in women bishops row

Christian Today John Sentamu: Hand-laying for traditionalist bishop is for ‘prayer not politics’

Blog articles:

Bosco Peters Anglo-Donatism

Oliver Coss The Suffragan See of Burnley

Earlier articles here.


Statement about the Forthcoming Consecrations from the Archbishop of York

Forthcoming Consecrations
Archbishop of York
Thursday 22nd January 2015

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has today issued the following statement:

With great joy and thanksgiving the Church of England will, in the next two weeks, see the consecration of two fine priests, The Revd Libby Lane, and The Revd Philip North as bishops, respectively, of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester, and of Burnley, in the Diocese of Blackburn. Nothing should be allowed to constrain our joy, our prayers and our thanksgiving, on either occasion….

Follow this link for the full text of the statement, including a version of the note sent earlier to Northern bishops, and a republication of GS Misc 1079.


Consecration of the Bishop of Burnley

Updated third time Thursday morning

Yesterday, Christian Today published the following article by Ruth Gledhill: Consecration of traditionalist bishop set to highlight Church of England divisions

As the consecration of the first female bishop approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest…

And Ruth noted that:

…no-one from the Archbishop’s office, the diocesan office, the cathedral or the women’s ordination group WATCH would comment to Christian Today

Twenty-four hours later, there has still been no comment from any of these sources. Nor from Forward in Faith or The Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.

There have been two blog articles though:

Archdruid Eileen has published At the Multiple Episcopal Consecration

Jonathan Clatworthy has published A woman’s touch and spiritual danger

I will add links to any further official or other statements about this that I discover.


WATCH has now issued a statement:

Press Release Wednesday 21st Jan 2015
WATCH Statement on Consecrations

Next Monday the Church of England and the nation will rejoice at the consecration of Rev Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England. That will be a great day, and nothing should detract from that moment of affirmation for all women in all walks of life.

We have known about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley for some time, but have not commented publicly out of courtesy to the individuals involved. Our focus has been on the earlier consecration as the fulfillment of a long and deeply held desire by so many, and as a source of good news from the Church.

We are dismayed that it seems that the Archbishop of York will not lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley. We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the eucharist.

We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops at the moment of consecration. The Bishop of Burnley is a suffragan bishop, and not a PEV: he is a minister for the whole Church of England in the Diocese of Blackburn and the people of that diocese are looking forward to working with him across the traditions.

We will issue a statement on the wider ramifications of this in due course.

A reader of Thinking Anglicans who had written to the Archbishop of York has received a reply from his office, which is copied in full below the fold.

Two more blog articles:

Benny Hazlehurst Apostolic Regression

Kelvin Holdsworth One step forward, two giant leaps back – the English Episcopate

Another two:

Janet Henderson Woman’s Touch Not Welcome

Peter Carrell Bishops’ magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them!

According to the CofE Daily Media Digest, The Times [paywall] reports inter alia that:

…the church has yet to confirm whether Dr Sentamu and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, will join the service but adds that Dr Sentamu’s most senior aide said last night that Mr North had not insisted on the arrangement himself.



Senior Church Leadership: A resource for reflection

Church House press release

The Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission has published a contribution to reflection on leadership in the life of the church. Arising out of a request from the General Synod in 2009, it addresses three major questions:

  • Is it right to make ‘leadership’ a central idea in the life of the church?
  • If so, what are the underlying theological principles that inform the exercise of leadership within the church?
  • How can these principles best inform the exercise of senior leadership in the Church of England today?

Based on work undertaken by the Commission over a five-year period, the report complements the series of documents recently published to support the Archbishops’ programme for reform and renewal of the Church of England.

In his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can “inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them.”

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: “What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church’s understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ.”

The report is available at:

1 Comment

Dioceses Commission

One of the papers sent to General Synod members last week was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report for 2014 (GS Misc 1095). It is for information only, so will not be debated next month.

Two sections of the report might be of particular interest to readers.

The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

7. 2014 saw the historic creation of the new Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). The appointed day for the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of the new diocese was Easter Day (20 April). The new diocese was formally inaugurated in a special service in York Minster on the Feast of Pentecost (8 June) at which Bishop Nick Baines’ Election as the Bishop of Leeds was confirmed. The Archbishop of York presided and preached and a special congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out.

8. Most of the work of implementing the provisions of the Commission’s Reorganisation Scheme fell on those in the diocese, and the Commission wishes to pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. This work is, however, on-going and much inevitably remains to be done. The Commission itself had specific responsibilities concerning the designation of interim diocesan structures (such as the DBF of the new diocese) and determining compensation for some office holders who would lose their posts under the terms of the Scheme, and appointed sub-committees to handle these tasks.

9. The Commission was very conscious that its Scheme was the first of its kind and, with this in mind, it commissioned one of its number, Professor Hilary Russell, to conduct an evaluation of the process. She conducted about 50 interviews with a range of interested parties in the course of the summer and her Report was published in December – see here.

10. While it needed to be recognised that the Scheme itself was a considerable achievement – being at the maximal end of anything envisaged under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 – the Report made a number of key recommendations for the future, including the following:

  • The need for clearer articulation of the case for change; and better communication particularly to diocesan staff directly affected by the Scheme;
  • The appointment of an adequately resourced facilitator early in the process, supported by a programme management board with representation from the Archbishop’s office, the dioceses, Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council;
  • Better HR and pastoral support for individual post holders directly affected by the Scheme.

Professor Russell’s report is well worth reading in full. It should not be allowed to gather dust in Church House.

Provincial boundaries

22. The Dioceses Commission is responsible for keeping both the provincial and the diocesan structure of the Church of England under review. Following the inauguration of the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales this year, the imbalance of the Provinces is now even more apparent with 12 dioceses in the Province of York and 30 in the Province of Canterbury.

23. The Commission has been encouraged by both Archbishops to review the boundary between the two provinces so as to create a more balanced archiepiscopal workload. The Commission intends to canvas the views of the House of Bishops at a future meeting.

Gavin Drake has these comments and suggestions on where the boundaries should be: Church of England considers moving the north-south divide.


Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill

This bill completed all its Commons stages yesterday. First Reading was on 18 December 2014. Yesterday the Commons dealt with an allocation of time motion, the second reading, the committee stage (in a committee of the whole house) and the third reading. As no amendments were made to the bill there was no report stage.

The verbatim Hansard record of the debate is available:
Allocation of time motion
Second reading
Committee stage and Third reading

The bill now goes to the Lords.

There are links to the text of the bill, and a summary of its progress through Parliament here: Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill 2014-15.

Press report

BBC News MPs back law fast-tracking female bishops into Lords


General Synod Questions – new arrangements

Questions at General Synod are generally allocated about an hour and a half at the end of the first day’s business. Questions must be submitted in advance, and on arrival at Synod members are given a booklet of all the questions. Each questioner also receives the answer to his/her question. Most questions are for oral answer. In the chamber these questions are not read out, but the person answering reads a pre-prepared answer, and members then have the opportunity to ask one or two supplementaries. As a general rule there is not enough time to answer all the questions.

A few copies of all the prepared answers are available to members after the questions session, and they are all published in due course in the official report of proceedings.

For next month’s meeting, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format, described in this extract from their report (GS 1974).


21. Based on feedback received from members, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format for Questions at this Group of Sessions. During the trial period Synod members will receive copies of all the answers to questions, in a booklet which will be emailed to them two working days prior to the start of the group of sessions. Paper copies of the booklet will be available at the Information Desk for collection on arrival by those Synod members who do not have access to email.

22. The oral delivery of pre-prepared official answers will be dispensed with. Instead of this, the person answering the question will begin simply by referring to the written answer published in the booklet. The intention is to focus the main business of Questions on the asking and answering of supplementary questions. Priority will be given to the original questioner in the usual way. It is hoped that this new format will allow greater spontaneity and enable Questions to flow more smoothly.

23. The Business Committee would welcome feedback on the trial format for Questions so that they can consider whether to continue with it in the future and promote Standing Order changes to facilitate it. All comments should be sent to the Chair, via the Clerk whose address is available at the end of this Report.

In general only two supplementaries per question are allowed. Since the usual amount of time has been allowed for questions next month it is likely that this new procedure will allow more questions to be dealt with during the question session. Perhaps for some questions the chair will feel able to use his/her discretion and allow more supplementaries.

A list of who may be asked questions is below the fold.



The Tablet reports on the CofE Reform and Renewal programme

I wrote an article last week for The Tablet’s website, about the Reform and Renewal programme, which was published under the title Can the Church of England save itself?

The unpublished FAOC report mentioned in that article can still be found here.


Some more comment on the Green report

The “Green report” was reissued at the end of last week as an attachment to GS 1982 which is a covering note by the Bishop of Ely. See Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders.

Senior Ordained Leadership – a new approach to development of those with
potential for posts with wider responsibility and to the leadership development of
bishops and deans


1. The report “Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for
Bishops and Deans” was commissioned by the Archbishops in January 2014. Though
theologically rooted, it was presented, as requested, as a business case to the Spending Plans Task Group who agreed to commit funding for the project through to the end of 2016. This decision was reported to the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners in September 2014. The proposals were also discussed with the College of Bishops, the Deans Conference and a meeting of Directors of Ministry in autumn 2014. For ease of reference it is set out at attachment 1.

2. This paper is prepared to support the presentation at General Synod on the 10th February 2015 and the subsequent hearing the following day. The Development and Appointments Group (a sub-committee of the House of Bishops) wishes to take the opportunity the Synod discussions will give to i) set the proposals in their wider context ii) connect the theological underpinning of this work with the organisational language of the proposals iii) create space to explore the various issues and concerns that have arisen and iv) provide an update on the detailed design…

The remainder of GS 1982 is well worth a read.

Other articles that appeared before this:

Janet Henderson Leadership Means Partnership

It’s been an interesting time to reflect on leadership. While I’m currently in the middle of an MA in Hospice Leadership, the Church of England has produced The Green Report (nothing to do with ecology!) about senior leadership in the church. Given the coherence and creativity of approach toward leadership training I experience among my hospice peers why, I ask myself, has the Green Report met with such an outcry and so much criticism?

Andrew Lightbown What is leadership? A short post Green reflection.

David Keen Green Shoots? Archbishops introduce CofE nose to the smell of coffee

Usefulinparts 13 key points from the @c_of_e ‘s Green Report (with page no. refs) on #Talent Management –



Ben Irwin blogs How Newsweek Got the Bible Right — and Still Got it Wrong in response to the Newsweek article that I linked to three weeks ago.

The Economist Go forth and multiply

Mark Clavier blogs Fragmented formation: training clergy.

Father Richard Peers SCP ‘Liberals in vestments’: What is the Society of Catholic Priests for?


General Synod agenda – press reports

Following today’s publication of the agenda for next month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod these articles have appeared.

John Bingham The Telegraph Vicars face end to job ‘for life’ culture as Church of England fights extinction

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod to tackle raft of reports in small groups

Church Times Group wants to cut C of E’s red legislative tape

Paul Handley Church Times Don’t forget history when you fund the future, Commissioners warn
Plans unveiled day after day for C of E’s new reformation

Gavin Drake Church Times Church of England proposes halving of Synod days
[This refers to GS Misc 1094 Optimising the Roles of the NCIs which was issued to Synod members today and states “It requires no decisions by Synod at this stage but is being circulated for information.”]

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Radical shake up of CofE urged to stop ‘terrifying’ decline


General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda.

General Synod Group of Sessions February 2015

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet at Church House, Westminster, SW1 from 1pm on Tuesday 10 February 2015 until 5 pm on Thursday 12 February 2015.

The Agenda for the meeting is published today. The main focus of the Synod’s work will be engagement with the wide-ranging programme of reform and renewal of the Church emerging from the various Task Group Reports and the materials on Discipleship. These discussions will take up most of Wednesday 11 February and will involve group work and meetings in larger groups as well as plenary sessions on a series of motions relating to the Tak Groups.

Tuesday 10th February will feature an address by Archbishop Bashar M Warda, CSSR, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Diocese of Erbil (Eastern rite Catholic) in northern Iraq (Kurdistan). Archbishop Warda will speak further on the issues raised at the panel debate in November on violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury will give a Presidential Address later that afternoon. This will be followed by a Report on Immersion Experience in India by Regional Representatives to the House of Bishops, including the Rt Revd Libby Lane, the new Suffragan Bishop of Stockport.

The Synod’s engagement with the programme for Reform and Renewal and the Task Group reports will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday 10th February with a presentation by the Chairs of the Task Groups on the reports that will be discussed on Wednesday.

On the morning of Wednesday 11 February, Synod members will start with worship in small groups before moving into group work on the Discipleship report to prepare for the discussion of the Task Group reports. Later the same morning, Synod members will move into larger groups which will be meeting in parallel to discuss the programme emerging from the Task Groups. These will take the form of four ‘ACT’ groups (Accountability, Consultation and Transparency) which will cover Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Resourcing the Future and Inter-Generational Equity and Simplification.

The Synod will move to a sequence of debates on the Discipleship paper and each of the Task Group reports on the afternoon of Wednesday 11 February. The sequence will begin with a debate on a motion on Discipleship moved by the Bishop of Sheffield. The Synod will then move into a debate on a motion on ‘Resourcing the Future and Resourcing Ministerial Education’ introduced by Canon John Spence. The Bishop of Willesden will introduce a debate on the proposals in the Simplification Group’s report. Finally, the First Church Estates commissioner will introduce a motion on Commissioners’ Funds and Inter-Generational Equity. This will conclude the sequence of debates on the Task Groups.

The final day of Synod, Thursday 12 February, will return to more usual business. In the morning there will be a debate on the Revision Stage of the Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure. Synod will also be debating a Private Members’ Motion from the Revd Dr Michael Parsons on Canon B38 which calls for the introduction of legislation to amend the Canon to allow those who have taken their own life to be buried in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. Synod will be debating the Revision Committee stage of the draft Alternative Baptism Texts which are being introduced by the Liturgical Commission as an optional alternative to current baptism services in use in the Church at present.

Finally, Synod will be debating a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on the subject of ‘Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices’.

There are two items of contingency business at this Group of Sessions. The first is a Diocesan Synod Motion from the former Diocese of Wakefield on ‘The Nature and Structure of the Church of England – National Debate’. The second item is a debate on a report fro the World Council of Churches entitled ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’. This will be introduced by the Chair of the Council of Christian Unity.

Synod will conclude at 5pm on Thursday 12th February.

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February General Synod – online papers

Updated 23 January to add second circulation papers

Papers in the first and second circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 10-12 February are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

I have also included the papers that I expect to see in the second circulation, due in a week’s time. I will add links to these papers when they become available. [now done]

zip file of all first circulation papers
zip file of second circulation papers
zip file of all papers

GS 1902D – Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]

GS 1928A & GS 1928C – Nature and Structure of the Church of England [contingency business]

GS 1935A – Draft Naming of Dioceses Measure [Tuesday]
GS 1935Y – Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1952A – Draft Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure [Thursday]
GS 1953A – Draft Amending Canon No.34 [Thursday]
GS 1952-3Y – Report by the Revision Committee

GS 1958A – Alternative Baptism Texts [Thursday]
GS 1958Y – Report of the Revision Committee

GS 1964B – Draft Amending Canon No.35 [Tuesday]
GS 1964C – Her Majesty’s Royal Assent and Licence

GS 1972A & GS 1972B – Private Members’ Motions on Canon B 38 [Thursday]

GS 1973Agenda

GS 1974 – Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 1975 – General Synod Elections 2015: seat allocations [Tuesday]

GS 1976 – A programme for reform and renewal. A note from the Archbishops [Tuesday]

GS 1977 – Discipleship [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1978 – Resourcing the Future Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1979 – Resourcing Ministerial Education Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1980 – Simplification Task Group Report [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1981 – Church Commissioners’ and Inter-Generational Equity [Tuesday & Wednesday]
GS 1982 – Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders [Tuesday]

GS 1983 – Petition to change the names of the Suffragan Sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract [Thursday]

GS 1984 – 50th Report of the Standing Orders Committee [Thursday]

GS 1985 – Mission and Growth in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices: report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council [Thursday]

GS 1986 – The Church: Towards a Common Vision: Report from the World Council of Churches [contingency business]

Other papers

Prayer card

GS Misc 1092 – Released for Mission: Growing the Rural Church
GS Misc 1093 – Update on Electronic Voting
GS Misc 1094 – Optimising the role of the NCIs
GS Misc 1095 – Dioceses Commission Annual Report
GS Misc 1096 – Clergy Stipend Report
GS Misc 1097 – Archbishop’s Council – Review of Consitutions
GS Misc 1098 – The Church of England’s National Work on Education
GS Misc 1099 – Report on the Archbishops’ Council Activities
GS Misc 1100 – Report on Immersion Experience in India [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1101 – The Church of England’s National Ecumenical Relations
GS Misc 1102 – House of Bishops Summary of Decisions

Notice Paper 1 [contains proposed amendments to standing orders]

Group work – Developing Discipleship