Thinking Anglicans

European church leaders consult on refugee crisis

The World Council of Churches recently held a consultation on the refugee crisis in Europe. This press release was issued before the meeting: Refugee crisis to be discussed in Munich by 35 bishops and other church leaders from 20 countries

The international refugee crisis will be the focus of a consultation of 35 bishops and church leaders from 20 countries, to be held on 29 October in Munich, Germany. There will be representatives from churches in the most affected regions and from most of the church families in Europe: Orthodox, Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Methodist and representatives from the Middle East and Africa, as well as representatives from ecumenical organizations and from church-based humanitarian and refugee organizations.

They have been invited by the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, and the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, who is also chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)…

Afterwards, ACNS reported: Church leaders urge “safe passage” to those seeking refuge

The suffragan bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr David Hamid, has joined other bishops and church leaders from a number of denominations in calling for safe passage to those seeking refuge.

The recommendation is one of a number contained in a communiqué issued following a church leaders’ consultation in the German city of Munich…

The full text of the communiqué can be found on the World Council of Churches website.

Also, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has published a roundup of actions being taken by churches and Christian aid agencies: Churches respond to the refugee crisis.

And here’s a report on one specific activity: Anglicans to support reception centre for refugees at remote lighthouse on Lesvos.



Michael Ainsworth Law & Religion UK Hymns (and other things) to avoid?

Giles Fraser Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 On being called “Father”, Bishops in the Lords, & other clerical absurdities

Simon Rundell “Call No Man Father…”

Ian Paul Are we being honest about ordination training?


November General Synod – online papers

Updated 10 November to include second circulation papers (GS 2009 and GS Misc 1128)

Papers in the first circulation both circulations for next month’s meeting of General Synod on 24-25 November are now online here in agenda order. Here is a list in numerical order, with a note of the day scheduled for their consideration.

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

GS 2005 – Agenda

GS 2006 – Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]

GS 2007 – Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 [Wednesday]
GS 2007x – Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2015 Explanatory Memorandum

GS 2008 – Report of the Church Buildings Review Group [Wednesday]

GS 2009 – The Migrant Crisis [Wednesday]
The motion to be debated on this subject is contained in notice paper 4.

GS 2010 – Standing Orders (October 2015)

GS Misc 1123 – Constitutions of the Committees of the Archbishops’ Council

GS Misc 1124 – A programme for the renewal and reform of the Church of England [Tuesday]
GS Misc 1125 – A New Enabling Measure

GS Misc 1126 – Public Peceptiions of Jesus [Wednesday]
Annex: Talking Jesus Booklet

GS Misc 1127 – Released for Mission

GS Misc 1128 – Consultation on possible Statute Law (repeals) Measure

Members’ Resources

Although intended for Synod members, some of these Members’ Resources may be of wider interest – in particular the Guide to the General Synod and the Synod Survival Guide.


General Synod agenda published

The final agenda and the papers for next month’s two day inaugural meeting of the tenth General Synod of the Church of England are published today, along with this press release summarising the agenda. I will publish a list of online papers later today.

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod
30 October 2015

HM the Queen to inaugurate tenth General Synod

Synod to debate Migrant Crisis and Church Buildings report and review progress of the Reform and Renewal programme

Her Majesty the Queen will inaugurate the tenth General Synod of the Church of England in Church House, Westminster on Tuesday 24th November.

The Inauguration ceremony will follow the Eucharist in Westminster Abbey, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preside and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap (Preacher to the Papal Household) will preach.

The Agenda for the short meeting of the Synod, which will follow the inauguration, is published today along with the papers.

Synod membership

The Synod has 468 voting members of whom 59 (including the 42 diocesan bishops) are ex officio and 409 have been elected this autumn (9 suffragan bishops, 200 clergy, 200 laity). The House of Bishops has 53 members, the House of Clergy 202 and the House of Laity 213.

53% of the 409 elected members were not members of the last Synod when it was dissolved in July (up from the 2010 figure of 45%). In total 46% of the membership of this Synod is new. The percentage of women on General Synod has increased from 28% in 2005 to 32% in 2010 and 37% in 2015.

The male/female balance has changed from 69/31 in 2005 to 63/37 in 2010 to 58/42 now. For the first time there are slightly more elected women than men in the House of Laity — 50.5% to 49.5% (in 2005 40% of elected laity were women and in 2010 46%). In the House of Clergy, the number of women elected has increased to 32% (from 22% in 2005 and 29% in 2010). Three of the 53 members of the House of Bishops are women: the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, the Rt Revd Libby Lane and the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.

The average age of the 378 lay and clergy members elected by the dioceses is slightly lower than in 2010, 51 as against 52 among the clergy and 56 as against 58 among the laity. The youngest member of the Synod is Rhian Ainscough, newly elected from the Leicester diocese, who is 19. The longest serving member is David Ashton from Leeds diocese, who has served continuously since 1972.

Tuesday 24 November

Following the service in Westminster Abbey the Queen will address the Synod in Church House. Synod business begins on the Tuesday afternoon. There will be a Presidential Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury. After further formal business, there will be a presentation from the leaders of the Archbishops’ Reform and Renewal Programme.

The presentation will cover the work-streams on Resourcing the Future, Resourcing Ministerial Education, Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders, Simplification of church legislation and a newly-launched work stream on Lay leadership. Synod members will have the opportunity to ask questions of the work stream leaders. There will also be the usual Synod question time.

Wednesday 25 November

On the morning of 25 November, there will be a short presentation from the Archbishop of York on the effects of global warming which he viewed on his recent visit to the South Pacific. Following that the Synod will debate a motion moved by the bishop of Durham on the Migrant Crisis. The wording of the Motion and the accompanying background paper will be published nearer to the debate given the rapidly-evolving context. However, it is likely to focus on the responses of the church in parishes and dioceses and to call on the Synod to continue working closely with the government and local authorities to maximise support for those most in need.

After some legislative business, there will be a presentation of the results of recent research on the “Public Perceptions of Jesus”, which was commissioned by the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and HOPE (an ecumenical organisation that brings churches together in mission). The report is an important resource for evidence-based mission.

On Wednesday afternoon the Synod will debate a motion, moved by the Bishop of Worcester, John Inge, welcoming the recently published report of the Church Buildings Review, commending it to dioceses, deaneries and parishes and paving the way for the necessary legislative process, once the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have taken decisions following the current consultation period. The report was produced as one of the elements of the Reform and Renewal programme.

The Synod will conclude with a farewell from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Secretary General, Mr William Fittall who will be retiring at the end of November after 13 years in post. Mr Fittall will also give a farewell address to the Synod.

Immediately after the end of the Synod the House of Laity will hold a hustings meeting for the election of a new Chair and Vice Chair. The results of those elections and of the elections for the Prolocutors (Chairs of clergy) for the Canterbury and York Provinces will be known just before Christmas.


[1] This includes a small number of members who were not in the last Synod but have served previously.


Tax credits and the bishops

Several bishops were involved in the debate on tax credits which took place in the House of Lords on Monday evening. A very helpful summary is available here. Another report is over here.

One of the four motions that were under consideration was submitted by the Bishop of Portsmouth, but in the even this motion was not voted upon. Its wording was:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth to move, as an amendment to the motion in the name of the Lord Privy Seal, at the end to insert “but this House regrets that the draft Regulations fail to take account of concerns about their short-term impact on working families and individuals currently receiving tax credits, and calls on the Government to consult further on the draft Regulations and revisit their impact.”

There were three bishops who spoke:

The voting record of the bishops was as follows (h/t Law and Religion UK):

  • Division 1: The amendment to the motion declining to approve the Regulations was rejected: 99 for and 310 against [Bishop of Chester, Not Content; Archbishop of York, Not Content].
  • Division 2: The amendment to the motion seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until a report has been produced addressing the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis of the Regulations and their impact was agreed: 307 for and 277 against [Bishops of Chester and Portsmouth, Content; Archbishop of York, Content].
  • Division 3: Their Lordships agreed, by 289 for and 272 against, an amendment seeking to delay consideration of the Regulations until consultation and a report to Parliament on the provision of full transactional protection for a minimum of three years for all low-income families and individuals currently receiving tax credits before 5 April 2016 has been completed, such transitional protection to be renewable after three years with parliamentary approval [Archbishop of York, Content; Bishop of Chester, Not Content].

Forward in Faith defends the Seal of the Confessional

Forward in Faith has submitted a response to the Working Group on the Seal of the Confessional established by the Archbishops’ Council.

For the background on this see this TA article from October last year and the articles from Law & Religion UK linked there.

The members of the working group are listed in this document.

The press release from Forward in Faith is available here and is copied below the fold.

The full text of the response is also linked from this page, and can be read in this PDF file.



GAFCON: October pastoral letter

The latest pastoral letter from the Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council can be found here. Part of it reads:

…Speaking at a mission conference in Chicago earlier this month I was delighted by the strength and fruitfulness of the global relationships being formed through GAFCON. We met at the Anglican Church of North America’s (ACNA) Church of the Resurrection, which has bought a huge disused factory and built it into a beautiful church.

Despite many challenges, this congregation is truly a church of the resurrection! It is a wonderful demonstration of the joy, vision and spiritual vitality so typical of the ACNA. I praise God that the ACNA, birthed at our first Jerusalem Conference in 2008, is now recognised as a full Province of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing the majority of the Communion’s active membership.

My experience of this new wineskin in North America brought home to me just how much is at stake when the Primates of the Communion meet in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury next January. I believe this will be an historic meeting unlike anything that has gone before. There is now a shared realisation that the time for dialogue is over and there must be a decision that will settle the future direction of the Communion and free us from being dragged down by controversy and confusion.

Last week it was a joy and privilege to share in a meeting of Global South Primates in Cairo which enabled the GAFCON Primates to consider how to respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation. Noting the unique nature of this proposed meeting, we are agreed to go and I am confident that in doing so we will not compromise the biblical principles for which we stand…

(The September letter was linked here. )



David Emmott went to Ken Leech’s funeral: Celebrating a prophet.

Carol Kuruvilla Huffington Post These 15 Tiny Churches Have Plenty Of Personality

Onora O’Neill, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, gave the Theos Annual Lecture on Monday 19 October 2015: Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion.
Paul Handley writes about the lecture in this week’s Church Times leader: Rights and duties.

Andrew Davison Church Times Do other planets have their own Christ?


Statement on the Rt Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)

The Church of England issued the following statement today.

Statement on the Rt. Revd George Bell (1883 -1958)
22 October 2015

The Bishop of Chichester has issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against the Right Reverend George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death on 3rd October 1958.

The allegations against Bell date from the late 1940s and early 1950s and concern allegations of sexual offences against an individual who was at the time a young child.

Following settlement of the claim the serving Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Warner, wrote to the survivor formally apologising and expressing his “deep sorrow” acknowledging that “the abuse of children is a criminal act and a devastating betrayal of trust that should never occur in any situation, particularly the church.”

Bishop Warner paid tribute to the survivor’s courage in coming forward to report the abuse and notes that “along with my colleagues throughout the church, I am committed to ensuring that the past is handled with honesty and transparency.”

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor for the survivor, today issued the following statement on behalf of her client:

“The new culture of openness in the Church of England is genuinely refreshing and seems to represent a proper recognition of the dark secrets of its past, many of which may still not have come to light. While my client is glad this case is over, they remain bitter that their 1995 complaint was not properly listened to or dealt with until my client made contact with Archbishop Justin Welby’s office in 2013. That failure to respond properly was very damaging, and combined with the abuse that was suffered has had a profound effect on my client’s life. For my client, the compensation finally received does not change anything. How could any amount of money possibly compensate for childhood abuse? However, my client recognises that it represents a token of apology. What mattered to my client most and has brought more closure than anything was the personal letter my client has recently received from the Bishop of Chichester.”

The survivor first reported the abuse to the then Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, in August 1995. Bishop Kemp responded to the correspondence offering pastoral support but did not refer the matter to the police or, so far as is known, investigate the matter further. It was not until contact with Lambeth Palace in 2013 that the survivor was put in touch with the safeguarding team at the Diocese of Chichester who referred the matter to the police and offered personal support and counselling to the survivor.

In his letter to the survivor Bishop Warner acknowledges that the response from the Diocese of Chichester in 1995, when the survivor first came forward, “fell a long way short, not just of what is expected now, but of what we now appreciate you should have had a right to expect then.”

In accordance with the recommendations of the Church Commissaries’ report into the Diocese of Chichester in 2012 the settlement does not impose any form of “confidentiality agreement” restriction regarding public disclosure upon the individual. In this case the survivor has expressed the desire to remain anonymous.

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

A formal claim for compensation was submitted in April 2014 and was settled in late September of this year. The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.

The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.

The copy of the statement on the Diocese of Chichester’s website is preceded by this statement by the Bishop of Chichester.

The statement to follow communicates news that has brought us a bewildering mix of deep and disturbing emotions. In touching the legacy and reputation of George Bell, it yields a bitter fruit of great sadness and a sense that we are all diminished by what we are being told.

Our starting point is response to the survivor. We remain committed to listening to all allegations of abuse with an open mind. In this case, the scrutiny of the allegation has been thorough, objective, and undertaken by people who command the respect of all parties. We face with shame a story of abuse of a child; we also know that the burden of not being heard has made the experience so much worse. We apologise for the failures of the past.

The revelation of abuse demands bravery on the part of a survivor, and we respect the courage needed to tell the truth. We also recognise that telling the truth provides a legitimate opportunity for others to come forward, sometimes to identify the same source of abuse.

We also believe that in the Church of England as a whole, and certainly in the diocese of Chichester, we have done all we can to ensure that our safeguarding policies reflect best practice, and are fully and evenly implemented. The statement below speaks of an earlier report of this case, in the 1990’s. There will no doubt be some who allege a cover-up by the Church. We acknowledge that the response then would not be adequate by today’s standards, although that falls far short of a cover-up. In the present context, the diocese of Chichester has worked with Police and other agencies to ensure that we have sought the fullest understanding possible of what happened.

Please hold in your prayers all victims of abuse, especially those who have never been able to seek or receive help and a proper response. Please pray for all who are affected by this news, especially those who are our ecumenical partners, those unable to comprehend its implications, and those whose faith is damaged by it. Please pray for the diocese of Chichester, for each other, lay and ordained, as we seek to remain faithful to our apostolic mission in spite of much that could discourage and deter us.



At risk church buildings

Historic England published its annual Heritage at Risk Register yesterday. Many entries are places of worship. This comes just a week after the Church of England launched its report on how it manages its 16,000 church buildings as part of its Reform and Renewal programme.

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK More “At Risk” CofE Buildings in 2015

Anglican Communion News Service More C of E church buildings placed on “at risk” register

Maev Kennedy The Guardian Bomb factory and concrete church among historic buildings at risk

Hannah Furness The Telegraph A Napoleonic lookout and an ammunition factory: the ’ heritage at risk register’ 2015

David Pocklington’s article has drawn my attention to Monday’s official announcement that from January 2016 Mike Eastwood (Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of Liverpool and Chief Officer, Liverpool Cathedral) will be starting a two-days-a-week secondment with the National Church Institutions as the Director of Reform and Renewal.

1 Comment

CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis – update


We reported on the release of the bishops’ letter here. In the days that followed there was a lot of press reports and reactions, listed in daily groups below with the earliest first.

Harriet Sherwood and Toby Helm The Observer Bishops in stinging rebuke to David Cameron over refugee crisis
Harriet Sherwood The Observer How the Church of England and the British government fell out over the ‘moral crisis’ of refugees
BBC News Syria refugees: Bishops urge David Cameron to do more
Nicola Harley The Telegraph Bishops row with David Cameron over offer of help to refugees

The Right Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester The Guardian Bishop says European migrant crisis ‘a moral matter’ not political – video
Laura Hughes The Telegraph Conservatives criticise bishops for attack on Syrian refugee policy
Charlie Cooper The Independent Refugee crisis: Church of England attacks Government’s ‘inadequate’ response
Rowena Mason The Guardian Bishops naturally leftwing, suggests minister after plea to take more refugees
Melanie McDonagh The Spectator Cameron should listen to Syrian bishops, not the Anglican ones

Steven Swinford The Telegraph Each Syrian refugee to cost Britain £24,000 a year
Nicholas Watt The Guardian David Cameron rebukes Church of England bishops over refugee letter
BBC News UK aims to take in 1,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas, says PM
Jules Middleton That Bishop’s Letter


Nick Baines Yorkshire Post To portray bishops as anti-Conservative over refugees is ‘wrong, lazy and ridiculous’
[also online here]
Paul Handley Church Times Frustrated bishops call for 30,000 more refugees to be accepted in the UK


Global South Primates will come to Canterbury


The Primates of twelve Global South provinces of the Anglican Communion met in Cairo recently and have issued a lengthy communiqué. Key points are:

  • ACNA was welcomed as a partner province
  • They have agreed to attend the gathering of primates which the Archbishop of Canterbury (who was present at the meeting) has called for January 2016 in Canterbury

Full text of the communique is below the fold. It can also be found on the ACNA website..

Update It is now also on the Global South Anglican website.

Also, as noted in the Comments, Nigeria was not represented at this meeting.



CofE bishops write to Prime Minister on refugee crisis

This press release has just been issued: Bishops call on Prime Minister to provide “meaningful and substantial response” to refugee crisis

17 October 2015
The Church of England today has published a letter sent to the Prime Minister in early September signed by 84 of its bishops calling for the Government to increase the number of Syrian refugees being resettled to this country “to a minimum of 50,000” over the next five years.

Referring to the situation in Syria as “one of the largest refugee crises ever recorded” the Bishops write that “a moral crisis of this magnitude calls each and all of us to play our parts.”

Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:

“We believe such is this country’s great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily.”

In addition to “recognising and applauding” the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.

In their letter the Bishops also called for the creation of a National Welcome and Resettlement Board, mirroring the successful work of such boards created by Government in response to past refugee crises in the 1950s and 1970s. Since the writing of the letter the board has been created with the Bishop of Durham serving as co-chair of the board.

Speaking on behalf of the bishops, the Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:

“The Archbishop of York recently said that the current situation has rightly been described as a refugee crisis but it is also a time of opportunity for us as a country and for our wider continent. The opportunity before us is to rise above narrow self-interest, however defined, and to embrace the highest parts of our humanity.

We recognise that both the Prime Minister and His Government responded to calls from the country for there to be a programme of resettlement and we are grateful to him for responding to those calls. However there is a real urgency to this issue with those increasingly being forced from their land as their homes are literally bombed into the ground. As the fighting intensifies, as the sheer scale of human misery becomes greater, the Government’s response seems increasingly inadequate to meet the scale and severity of the problem. It is disheartening that we have not received any substantive reply despite an assurance from the Prime Minister that one would be received. There is an urgent and compelling moral duty to act which we as bishops are offering to facilitate alongside others from across civil society.”


The full text of the letter follows.




The Archbishop of Canterbury ‘To the Glory of God’ – Archbishop’s sermon at Virginia Theological Seminary

Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard Church Times If we can’t make up, can we still kiss?

Robin Gill Church Times Yes, faith is good for your health

Philip DeVaul The Orange County Register Stop saying ‘There but for the grace of God’


General Synod election results update

Update – northern deans now listed

My list of those elected to the 2015-2020 General Synod is now almost complete. The only gaps are the two Northern Deans and the lay member from the Deanery of Jersey. The clergy member from the Channel Islands will be Tim Barker, the Dean designate of Guernsey. But I understand that he will not be able to take up his place until he is commissioned on 28 November, which is after the inaugural group of sessions.

There are two vacancies from the Religious Communities because not enough people were nominated to fill all four places. By-elections will be held in due course.

My thanks go to all those who responded to my appeal to send me results.


How to manage CofE church buildings

Updated Friday and Saturday

The Church of England yesterday launched a new report of how it manages its 16,000 church buildings. There was this accompanying press release.

Launch of major new report on how the Church of England manages its 16,000 church buildings
13 October 2015

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Welcoming the opening of the consultation, Bishop John said:

“Our 16,000 church buildings are a visible sign of ongoing Christian faith in communities throughout England as well as being an unparalleled part of our country’s heritage. This report looks at how we can best support the thousands of local volunteers who care deeply for and about churches and offer wonderful service to their communities using their churches.

“We believe that – apart from growing the church – there is no single solution to the challenges posed by our extensive responsibility for part of the nation’s heritage. We hope therefore that this work will be a catalyst for discussion about how churches can be better cared for and used for the common good.”

A copy of the six principles recommended by the group and the recommendations are available below. [Ed: These are below the fold.] The consultation period runs until Friday 29 January and will include a debate at the first meeting of the new General Synod in November.


The report is available at:

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England considers Christmas-only parishes

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Some churches will only open for Christmas – CofE report

David Keen blogs: When Should My Parish Church Be Demolished?


Giles Fraser The Guardian We must do to our churches what Beeching did to the railways
And in response Letters to the Church Magazine has this Mid-October Special.

Tim Wyatt Church Times Review calls for more state funds for Church buildings

Sir Tony Baldry (chair, Church Buildings Council) Ensuring that church buildings are a blessing and not a burden

Tiffer Robinson Giles Fraser has missed the point: rural churches need to be valued, not exterminated

Ian Paul Talking (non)sense about rural mission



General Synod election results

The votes in the elections to the Church of England General Synod will be counted during this coming week. I will publish the names of the successful candidates here: General Synod List of members.

Please help me do this by sending election results to I will only publish the names of successful candidates, so I do not need the details of the count (although you are welcome to send these to me as well).

New this time is the requirement for dioceses to post the full return of the result and the result sheet (with voting figures) on the diocesan website. They must remain there until the end of the first group of sessions of the new Synod, ie 4.30 pm on 25 November 2015. Results for other constituencies must be similarly posted on the Church of England website. However there does not appear to be any particular date by which these results must be posted. But when they do appear I will add links to this page: Synod election 2015.

There are official lists of successful candidates here.



Andrew Brown The Guardian Opposing gay bishops for the sake of church unity is stupid

Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, ‘Indifference is not an option’ – sustainable development and the Christian response to climate change

Christopher Howse The Telegraph English timber roofs where a host of angels roost


Peter Ball sentenced

Updated Thursday

Our previous article on Peter Ball is here, with links to earlier articles.

Peter Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison this morning.

[Update: the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Wilkie can be read here.]

The Church of England issued this statement.

Statement on the sentencing of Peter Ball
07 October 2015

“It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England has today been sentenced for a series of offences over 15 years against 18 young men known to him. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.

We apologise unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward and also the long wait for justice that they have endured. We note that there are those whose cases remain on file for whom today will be a difficult day, not least in the light of the courage and persistence that they have demonstrated in pressing for the truth to be revealed. We also remember Neil Todd, whose bravery in 1992 enabled others to come forward but who took his own life before Peter Ball’s conviction or sentencing.

As the Police have noted Peter Ball systematically abused the trust of the victims, many of whom who were aspiring priests, whilst others were simply seeking to explore their spirituality. He also abused the trust placed in him by the Church and others, maintaining a campaign of innocence for decades until his final guilty plea only weeks ago. Since that plea was made processes in the Church have begun to initiate formal internal disciplinary procedures against Peter Ball.

Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between Lambeth Palace, the Diocese of Chichester and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing. We pay tribute to those detectives whose work on this case over the past three years has led to this conviction and sentencing.

Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea on 8th of September this year questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.

Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.

The Church of England always takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. To this end we have robust procedures and policies in place. But we can never be complacent. Any survivors or those with information about church-related abuse must always feel free to come forward with confidence that safeguarding procedures will be followed.

Should anyone have further information or need to discuss the personal impact of this news the Church has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline no. 0800 389 5344.”

Paul Butler, lead Bishop on safeguarding for the Church of England

You can listen to Bishop Paul Butler responding to the Peter Ball case by following this link.

Press reports

Nicola Harley The Telegraph Peter Ball: Ex-bishop jailed for 32 months for exploiting young priests for sex

Sandra Laville The Guardian Bishop escaped abuse charges after MPs and a royal intervened, court told

Press Association in The Guardian Sexual abuse victims of Peter Ball sue Church of England


Tim Wyatt Church Times Prison for Bishop Peter Ball, but victims still seek justice

Comments are closed for this article.


Independent review of Peter Ball case announced

We reported on the Peter Ball case on 8 September: Peter Ball pleads guilty.

Since we published that article, this appeared on 13 September: Bishop Ball sex charges caution ‘wrong’ admits CPS.

Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to that case.

Press Release text is here.

Archbishop Commissions Independent Review of Peter Ball Case
05 October 2015
For Immediate Release

Archbishop Commissions Review of Peter Ball Case

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester.

During a hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 8th of this year Bishop Peter Ball pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office following the work of Sussex police as part of Operation Dunhill.

Operation Dunhill began as a direct result of the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace raising concerns about Peter Ball following a church initiated review of files. The approach to the police was a proactive step on the part of the national Church leading to a self-initiated referral via CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) to Sussex Police in 2012. This led to active co-working between the Church and Sussex Police on a complex enquiry with full information sharing.

Since Peter Ball’s guilty plea questions have been raised about the Church’s handling of this case. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

The independent review will examine the Church of England’s cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.

Further information about the arrangements for the review will be available in due course. The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church and will be published.

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