Thinking Anglicans

Peter Ball: letters of support released

The Crown Prosecution Service has released a number of letters written years ago in support of Bishop Peter Ball. This is because of a Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph newspaper.

The released documents are here.

The Telegraph news report is here: Establishment figures who helped disgraced bishop avoid prosecution for sex abuse revealed

Another news report by the BBC is here: Letters of support for sex offender ex-bishop Peter Ball released

And the Guardian has this: Archbishop and MPs wrote in support of bishop later convicted of sexual offences

Daily Mail Abuse bishop escaped prosecution after being backed by two Archbishops, a judge and Tory MPs including David Cameron’s godfather

There is a press release from the Church of England which is available here: Statement on Peter Ball letters released under FOI


Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church comments on Columba Declaration

In response to the reported agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has written two articles, which need to be read together:

The Columba Declaration – ecumenical relationships in Scotland

…But the aspect of the Columba Declaration which will cause most concern to the Scottish Episcopal Church is the potential involvement of the Church of England in the ecclesiastical life of Scotland. The Church of England is not a Scottish Church nor does it have any jurisdiction in Scotland. The Anglican way is to recognise the territorial integrity of each province – they are autonomous but inter-dependent, The important question is whether, within that understanding of the relationship between provinces of the Anglican Communion, it is proper for the Church of England to enter into this agreement about ministry and ecclesiastical order in Scotland.. That is a matter which will have to be explored in future dialogue between the Scottish Episcopal Church and both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

Columba Declaration – time for a rethink

…The question here is not whether the development of ecumenical relationships is desirable – for of course it is. The question is about whether that development can take place respectfully and in good order. The Scottish Episcopal Church now seems to be faced with the possibility that Church of England clergy will minister in Scotland under the authorisation of the Church of Scotland and without reference to the Scottish Episcopal Church. Yet the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church are partner members of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion in Scotland is expressed in the life of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England seem to have decided that their commonality as National Churches justifies them in setting aside other ecumenical relationships and etiquette. What would really help this situation – mitigating the damage already done to long-established relationships and avoiding further damage – would be for the two churches to decide to delay publication of the full document to allow time for consultation.

I appeal to them to do so…


Irish bishops write to clergy about same sex marriage

It is reported, see here and also here, that the following letter has been sent to each member of the clergy by their diocesan bishop:

Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the Church of Ireland from their bishops on same-sex marriage
29 Dec 2015


l am writing to you in the light of the Marriage Equality Referendum in the Republic of Ireland and the subsequent legislation. It is recognised that in the Church of Ireland there are differing opinions and responses to the outcome of the referendum itself. Together with my episcopal colleagues, I seek to encourage a spirit of mutual respect and attentiveness to one another as we move forward together in a context of new civic realities and possibilities in the Republic of Ireland. There will be many new situations of pastoral sensitivity arising.

Hitherto the Church and the State in both jurisdictions have substantially overlapped in their definition of marriage. This is no longer the case in the Republic of Ireland.

We also need to understand that under current legislation, involvement of a member of the clergy of the Church of Ireland as a solemniser (Republic of Ireland) or an officiant (Northern Ireland) in a wedding is an expressly legal function.

The following are some questions that have already been raised:

Q. Will a member of the clergy who is on the Register of Solemnisers (Republic of Ireland) now be able to conduct a same-sex marriage?

R. This will not be possible while the Canons of the Church of Ireland stand as they are. The powers of conducting a marriage as delegated to an ordained minister in the Church of Ireland require that the marriage be conducted according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of Ireland, and therefore the doctrine as reflected in those rites and ceremonies. The Church of Ireland does not have a liturgy of same-sex marriage.

Q. Are clergy permitted to conduct a blessing of a same-sex marriage?

R. There is no provision in the Book of Common Prayer or other authorized liturgies of the church for the blessing of a same sex marriage. In addition the service known as A Form of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage (pages 431 ff) presupposes the civil marriage of a man and a woman as husband and wife and cannot be used in this context.

Q. If two people who enter a same-sex civil marriage ask a member of the clergy to say prayers with them, how am I to reply and what am I to do?

R. It is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, nor would one wish to do so. In fact, in situations of rejoicing and crisis, such prayers often are at the heart of ministry. Any such prayers should remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of lreland.

Q. If I am asked to attend a same-sex marriage, should I go?

R. The decision lies with the individual who will bring to this decision criteria of friendship and conscience, following personal prayer and reflection.

Q. What is the situation if I, as a member of the clergy serving in the Church of Ireland decide to enter a same-sex marriage?

R. All are free to exercise their democratic entitlements once they are enshrined in legislation. However, members of the clergy, are further bound by the Ordinal and by the authority of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. It ls essential that any member of the clergy seeking to explore entering into a same sex marriage should think carefully about the response of others, not only in the immediate locality. This is an extension of the reflection, often requiring restraint in a range of matters, expected of clergy who are both public and private people at the same time.

The bishops of the Church of Ireland, acting corporately and individually, are well aware that, in the eyes of many, for an ordained member of the clergy to enter publicly into a civil marriage would be regarded as divisive. The backdrop to this is that such a situation is contrary to what the Church of Ireland currently practices within its own framework of regulation. The situation is that State provision in the Republic of Ireland now differs significantly from that in the Church of Ireland. It is for this reason that we encourage a restraint for the sake of unity that is respectful of the principles of others in the mixed flock to whom clergy offer service and leadership in the things of God.

There has been a strongly worded criticism of this statement by Reform Ireland. You can read that response here.


Harriet Sherwood interviews Jeremy Davies

Harriet Sherwood has another major article today. In The Guardian Saturday interview she writes about Married gay priest Jeremy Davies: ‘The bishops say we’re not modelling teachings of the church. Yes we are’.

This is a long article, but do read all of it.


Opinion – 26 December 2015

Natasha Moore The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) In defence of the nativity play

Rowan Williams ABC Religion and Ethics Where Faith is Born: Seeing Ourselves Honestly, Seeing the World Differently

Giles Fraser The Guardian The story of the virgin birth runs against the grain of Christianity
Archdruid Eileen A Canon Backfires

Some (arch)bishops’ Christmas Messages

Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of York

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada – Archbishop Hiltz has also recorded this video jointly with the Lutheran National Bishop of Canada
Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (video)

Bishop of Chelmsford
Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop of Western Tanganyika and Bishop of El Camino Real
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Liverpool – The bishop also has a separate video message.
Bishop of Sheffield

Bishop of St Asaph
Bishop of Bangor
Bishop of Swansea and Brecon

Anglican and Roman Catholic Primates of Ireland

Archbishop Philip Freier, Primate of Australia

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda

And some sermons

Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Guildford
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Southwark
Bishop of Taunton

Archbishop of Wales

Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow Midnight Mass Christmas morning


C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

This is the lead story on the front page of tomorrow’s The Guardian.

Harriet Sherwood C of E to fast-track minority ethnic clergy into senior roles

The Church of England is to fast-track black and ethnic minority clergy into senior positions amid accusations of institutional racism.

A “talent pool” of specifically black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) potential leaders will be identified in 2016 for training and mentoring with the aim of increasing representation among bishops, deans and archdeacons…


The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an "historic agreement"

Updated Thursday evening to add statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church

Press release from the Church of England and the Church of Scotland this morning

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England reach an historic agreement
24 December 2015

The Church of Scotland and the Church of England have reached an historic agreement that recognises their longstanding ecumenical partnership and lays the groundwork for future joint projects.

The agreement called The Columba Declaration is set out in a 15-page report by the Joint Study Group “Growth in Communion, Partnership in Mission”.

Rev Dr John McPake, co-chair of the study group and one of the authors of the report, said

“The Columba Declaration recognises the strong partnership that already exists and will help encourage and support new initiatives.

“We believe that approval of the Columba Declaration by our two churches will represent a significant step in the long history of their relationship, one that affirms the place we have come to and opens up new possibilities for the future.”

Arranged into four chapters, the report sets out the history of partnership between the two churches and the shared beliefs that allow for close cooperation between the churches, before exploring how the partnership could grow.

This year the churches established the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union as a response to concerns that low-income families needed access to low -cost banking and loans. And that’s just one of the areas where the two churches already are collaborating.

The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council and the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs talk regularly about everything from poverty to refugees. As well as recognising one another’s ministers, the churches exchange views on ministry and come together for example on initiatives such as Fresh Expressions. The Church of Scotland also sends a representative to the General Synod while the Church of England sends a representative to the General Assembly.

In a joint statement prefacing the report, joint study group co-chairs Rev Dr John McPake and Rt Rev Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester write:

“Our hope is that joint affirmation by our two churches of the Columba Declaration would:

Affirm and strengthen our relationship at a time when it is likely to be particularly critical in the life of the United Kingdom;

Provide an effective framework for coordinating present partnership activities and for fostering new initiatives;

Enable us to speak and act together more effectively in the face of the missionary challenges of our generation.”

The report emphasises that joint ecumenical work should also include other churches and especially the Episcopal Church of Scotland [sic] and the United Reformed Church. At the same time it acknowledges the “distinctive partnership in the gospel to which our two Churches are called within the United Kingdom, rooted in our shared history and in our parallel and overlapping roles as the churches of our respective nations.”

The report will now go to the Church of England’s Synod in February and by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May for approval. A debate is scheduled at the Synod on Feb 16, 2016.

Here’s the full text from the report of the Columba Declaration


38. In the light of our common mission and context (chapter 1), our agreement in faith (chapter 2) and our significant opportunities for growing in partnership in mission (chapter 3), we recommend that our churches make the following Declaration.

We, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, make the following acknowledgements and commitments, which are interrelated.

a) Acknowledgements

(i) We acknowledge one another’s churches as churches belonging to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and truly participating in the apostolic ministry and mission of the whole people of God.

(ii) We acknowledge that in both our churches the word of God is truly preached, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion are rightly administered.

(iii) We acknowledge that both our churches share in the common confession of the apostolic faith.

(iv) We acknowledge that one another’s ordained ministries of word and sacraments are given by God as instruments of grace and we look forward to a time when growth in communion can be expressed in fuller unity that makes possible the interchangeability of ministers.

(v) We acknowledge that personal, collegial and communal oversight (episkope) is embodied and exercised in our churches in a variety of forms, as a visible sign expressing and serving the Church’s unity and continuity in apostolic life, mission and ministry.

b) Commitments

We commit ourselves to grow together in communion and to strengthen our partnership in mission. Through this commitment, we hope to enrich our continuing relationships with other churches in the United Kingdom and around the world. We will welcome opportunities to draw other churches into the activities and initiatives that we share.

As part of that commitment, we will continue to:

(i) pray for and with one another;
(ii) welcome one another’s members to each other’s worship as guests and receive one another’s members into the congregational life of each other’s churches where that is their desire;
(iii) explore opportunities for congregational partnership, formal as well as informal, in those cases where there are churches in close geographical proximity;
(iv) enable ordained ministers from one of our churches to exercise ministry in the other church, in accordance with the discipline of each church;
(vi) identify theological issues that arise from growth towards fuller communion and be prepared to allocate resources to addressing them;
(vii) work together on social, political and ethical issues that arise from our participation in public life and be prepared to allocate resources to joint initiatives for addressing them.

In order to assist our churches in living out the acknowledgements and commitments of the Columba Declaration, we will appoint Co-Chairs and members of a Church of Scotland – Church of England Contact Group, whose purpose will be to coordinate the different activities that make up our rich relationship and develop new initiatives where these may be needed. The Contact Group will meet at least annually and will report annually to the Council for Christian Unity in the Church of England and the Committee on Ecumenical Relations in the Church of Scotland.

[This text is copied from the Church of England website (which has no hyperlinks) with links taken from the Church of Scotland website. – editor]


Some press reports

John Bingham Telegraph Church of England and Church of Scotland forge pact

BBC News Churches of Scotland and England reach first formal pact



The Scottish Episcopal Church issued this statement today:

Response to Columba Declaration
December 24, 2015

A spokesperson for the Scottish Episcopal Church says “We have noted the announcement today about the Columba Declaration agreed between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England.

“We welcome the opportunity for the further ecumenical discussion referred to in today’s press statement and look forward to being able to consider the full text of the report when we receive this. We fully understand the desire of the Church of Scotland and the Church of England as national churches to discuss and explore matters of common concern. However certain aspects of the report which appear to go beyond the relationship of the two churches as national institutions cause us concern. The Scottish Episcopal Church, as a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, represents Anglicanism in Scotland, and we will therefore look forward to exploring the suggestions within the report more fully in due course.”


Martyn Percy interviewed on BBC radio programmes

Updated Thursday

Following the publication last week of his essay – Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans – the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, and a Vice President of Modern Church, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme…

For more details of this interview, and another one on BBC Radio Wiltshire, dealing mainly with the case of Canon Jeremy Davies, see Modern Church vice president responds to unchallenged homophobia on Radio 4 Sunday programme.

Thursday Update

Following the Radio 4 broadcast, there were numerous complaints to the BBC about what one of the participants had said, and the failure of the interviewer to challenge him on it. Those who complained have all received the following response from the BBC:

Many thanks for getting in touch with us about an item on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” programme on 20 December. Recognising your unhappiness, we have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.

To explain, the discussion in question was broadcast in response to an essay written by the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, on the debate within the Anglican Communion about the treatment of LGBT Christians.

“Sunday” is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed. As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.

We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.

We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast. As was explained in the programme, “Sunday” will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.

Thanks again for getting in touch and allowing us to clarify.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints

Another article on Anglican Mainstream from Chris Sugden, published on the same day as the broadcast, also deals with this matter: Background to the Uganda Bill on aggravated homosexuality

It is becoming clear that in the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering, further pressure will be brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states that funds for their education and health budgets will be removed if the laws are not changed. To this call is now being added calls from the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups.
At this Christmas season, where would Jesus be found – in the courts of the rich and powerful intimidating and bullying the poor for whom their families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Kabare in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.
There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic to which this article addresses itself…


Opinion – 19 December 2015

Mark Hart Church Times Evangelism: maybe talk less, but do more?

Richard Moy Men Only? A charismatic crisis in New Wine/HTB leadership

Tim Wyatt Church Times Fill the hungry with good things

Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, Huffington Post UK Peace From the Middle East

Jody Stowell Independent As a vicar, here’s what I think when you all pile in at Christmas after a year of church avoidance

Kelvin Holdsworth 12 tips to get people to come to Christmas Services

David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, Church Times O come, all ye (occasionally) faithful


February 2016 General Synod – outline timetable

The outline timetable for the February General Synod of the Church of England has been published today, and is copied below. The full agenda and other papers will be published on Friday 22 January 2016.



Monday 15 February

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Opening Worship
Presentation of officers (Prolocutors of the Convocations of Canterbury and York, Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity)

Report by the Business Committee

Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Legislative Business
Enactment of Amending Canon No 34
Mission and Pastoral etc (Amendment) Measure – First Consideration

Initial presentation on the Shared Conversations followed by Q&A

*5.45 pm Questions

7.00 pm Evening worship

Tuesday 16 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Worship in small groups followed by Group Work on Evangelism

11.30 am Presentation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chair of the Evangelism Task Group, followed by a ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Evangelism Task Group

2.30 pm – 7.15 pm

2.30 pm Presentation from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Debate on the Report of the Church of England – Church of Scotland Joint Study Group

Diocesan Synod Motion: Parochial Fees

*5.30 pm Motion on the proposed Enabling Measure

7.00 pm Evening worship

Wednesday 17 February

9.15 am – 1.00 pm

9.15 am Holy Communion

10.45 am Diocesan Synod Motion: Impact of Sanctions on Benefit Claimants

Update on Renewal and Reform – (Presentation by Task Group Leads followed by Q&A)

2.30 pm – 5.00 pm

2.30 pm Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing Ministerial Education: debate on a motion from the Archbishops’ Council

Renewal and Reform:
Resourcing the Future: ‘take note’ debate on a Report from the Archbishops’ Council

5.00 pm Farewells

*5.15 pm Prorogation

Contingency Business:
Diocesan Synod Motion: Blood and Organ Donation


Resolution of Disputes

In June I reported here on a consultation on the operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure that is part of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishop and Priests. I also linked here to David Pocklington’s review of the consultation paper for Law & Religion UK.

This week the Church of England has published these two documents on the Operation of the procedure.

Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure: Response to the Consultation
Independent Reviewer: Notes on the Operation of the Resolution of Disputes Procedure (December 2015)

David Pocklington has written about both for Law & Religion UK here: CofE: Resolution of Disputes Procedure.


Andrew Tremlett to be next Dean of Durham

Press release from Number 10

Dean of Durham: Andrew Tremlett

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 17 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett to be appointed Dean of Durham.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Andrew Tremlett, MA, MPhil, PGCCE, Canon of Westminster, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Durham, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, MA, on 31 December 2015.

Notes for editors

The Venerable Canon Andrew Tremlett (aged 51) was Curate at Torquay, St Matthias, St Mark and Holy Trinity in the diocese of Exeter, from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 1994 he was Chaplain to the Mission to Seafarers, and Assistant Chaplain in Rotterdam, in the diocese of Europe, and from 1994 to 1995 he was Chaplain. From 1995 to 1998 he was Team Vicar at Fareham Holy Trinity with St Columba in Portsmouth diocese. From 1998 to 2003 he was Chaplain to the Bishop of Portsmouth, and also a Parliamentary Research Assistant and Secretary to the Church of England’s Doctrine Commission. From 2003 to 2008 he was Vicar of Goring-by-Sea in Chichester diocese. From 2008 to 2010 he was Canon Residentiary and Keeper of the Fabric at Bristol Cathedral; from June 2009 to May 2010 he was Acting Dean of the Cathedral.

Since 2010 he has been Canon Residentiary and Rector of St Margaret’s Church at Westminster Abbey. He has been responsible for the Abbey’s relationships with Parliament, Whitehall and other faith communities, and in 2012 established the Westminster Abbey Institute which works with Public Service Institutions around Parliament Square to support ethics in public life. In June 2014 he became Archdeacon of Westminster and Sub-Dean of the Abbey. Since 2013 he has been Chairman of the Field Lane Foundation, a charitable housing association working particularly with adults with complex needs, and in 2015 became a Trustee of the Mission to Seafarers.

Andrew Tremlett is married to Ali, a teacher and trained painter and decorator. They have a daughter and 2 sons. Andrew Tremlett enjoys languages and has been studying Arabic at SOAS as well as on sabbatical in Jerusalem in 2014. He is a keen photographer and long-distant runner.

Durham diocesan website: Andrew Tremlett named as next Dean of Durham


Reactions to Winchester banning of married clergyman

There have been a lot of people writing letters to the Bishop of Winchester to complain about his refusal to issue a Permission to Officiate to the retired priest, Jeremy Davies.

Three of the most thoughtful articles about this matter are these:

Rachel Mann An Open Christmas Letter to Bishop Tim Dakin. Do read it all the way through. Here’s the last bit:

I pray to God that your decision was not an easy one. (Although, if it was, I hope you have pause to ask ‘Why?’ in the weeks to come. Surely any decision that can have costly emotional and personal fallout for others should not be taken from the safety of ‘due process’ and ‘best legal advice’.) I also think that these might be quite difficult weeks ahead for you. Even with the most robust sense of self, negative press is wearing.

I know it’s tempting in such circumstances to attempt to rework this emotional distress into a kind of positive; that is, into an opportunity to participate in Christ’s woundedness and sufferings. To ‘play’ a part that saves us from moral culpability or villainy. You may well do this and I’m hardly in a position to argue you shouldn’t do that. We all work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

But – I hope you can forgive my boldness – may I commend another aspect to consider? In those distressing moments I think you will have (my constructed version of you, my hopeful version of you, thinks you will have them) I ask you to pause and pray. To think of Jeremy and Simon. To not lose sight of their human being and their particularity and their distress. And though (I admit my limitation here) I don’t think your distress is exactly commensurate (you being a bishop with all the privilege that goes with that etc.) I hope there may be a conversion to ‘the other’ in the mysteries of prayer and distress. The theatre of Tragedy, after all, reminds us that there is some knowledge that only comes through pain and wounds. And the Christian story reminds us that tragedy is very close to comedy; to the possibility of a world in which wounds are bound and the falsely imprisoned set free.

Forgive me. I get carried away. Especially at Christmas. Christmas is so very cheesy, but it can still startle me in the most extraordinary way. The Christ-child always reminds me that God comes among us not with clever arguments or theological constructions, but as that most fragile and defenceless thing, a baby. His only power is to elicit love. The encounter we make with God in the Christ-child is beyond the obvious delights of reason. It is in our shared humanity and holy simplicity. A thousand theological and political arguments come crashing down in Bethlehem on that Holy Night.

So may you have a blessed Christmas, Tim. But also, – along with Canon Jeremy, his husband Simon, me, and everyone who is simply trying to get on with being faithful and hopeful – a disrupting one. Where the Saviour without Safety pulls down the walls between us and we can never be the same again.

Beth Routledge The Appalling Silence of the Good. Here are some extracts (but again do read the whole thing from the beginning):

…The silence from the hierarchy of the Church of England has been deafening.

Senior figures of the Church have either been living under a rock since Saturday, or else they are all keeping their heads down and hoping that if they stay quiet then this will all go away…

…I still struggle to find any love or common sense in the response of a Church that chooses to punish someone for marrying the person they love. I’ve witnessed it from inside the process — on this matter, the Scottish Episcopal Church cannot claim any moral high ground — as well as watching from the outside when something like this happens in England. I find anger and hurt and pain. I rarely find any sense of pastoral response or responsibility. I cannot believe I am seeing what God wants.

And three days after this story broke, still that deafening sound of nothing from everyone associated with the Church of England.

That is a strategy that isn’t acceptable and never worked anyway, and speaking for myself I find that I’m no longer able to pretend to respect individuals who are supportive of me just so long as I never expect them to say it out loud or in public or when it might matter.

Because here’s the thing:

Either people in the Church think that LGBT people are made in the image and likeness and love of God, and recognise that LGBT people are in and of the Church, and want the Church to value and cherish the hopes and dreams of its LGBT clergy, or they don’t.

The more we hear of stories like this one and the more senior figures in the Church of England avoid talking about them, the louder I hear their answer.

Christina Rees The Church has banned a gay priest – here’s what you can do about it

…At some point, the Church of England is bound to change its legal position on same -sex marriage too. But changing some people’s hearts and minds on the issue will take much longer.

If you don’t like what’s happened to Jeremy Davies and others in similar positions, then you have some choices. Write to the bishops and let them know what you think. Stand for deanery, diocesan or General Synod – although you’ll have to wait nearly five years for the next elections.

Join a group like Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, LGCM or Accepting Evangelicals and support the work they’re doing, both within and outside the synodical structures of the Church of England.

One of the most valuable characteristics of Anglicanism is its commitment to being a broad church, where people of differing views – even sharply differing views – can continue to worship, discuss and debate together.

General Synod’s wheels may turn slowly, but at least we have somewhere that lay, clerical and episcopal voices can be heard and where each member’s vote holds equal weight.

So whatever else you do, don’t just sit around getting angry or depressed.


Michael Harrison to be next Bishop of Dunwich

Press release from Number 10

Suffragan Bishop of Dunwich: Michael Robert Harrison

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 16 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Michael Robert Harrison to the Suffragan See of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Reverend Michael Robert Harrison, MA, PhD, Director of Ministry and Mission, in the diocese of Leicester, to the Suffragan See of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in succession to the Right Reverend Clive Young, BA, on his resignation on 31 May 2013.

Notes for editors

The Reverend Canon Mike Harrison (age 52) is at present Director of Mission and Ministry in the Leicester diocese and also Honorary Canon of Leicester Cathedral. His undergraduate studies were in mathematics and statistics at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Following on from this Mike worked as both a management consultant and a social worker in London. He trained for the ministry at Oxford. After ordination Mike served as Assistant Curate at St Anne and All Saints, South Lambeth for 4 years. During this time he studied for a PhD in doctrine at King’s College, London University. From 1994 to 1998 he was Chaplain at Bradford University and Bradford and Ilkley Community College, where he was also Diocesan World Development Advisor and completed an MA in international development studies at Bradford University. From 1998 he was Vicar of Holy Trinity, Eltham in the diocese of Southwark and from 2005 he was also Rural Dean of Eltham and Mottingham. He moved to Leicester diocese in 2006, and since then has been involved in growing the mission of local parishes as well as developing missional leadership, pioneer ministry and fresh expressions of church.

Mike writes:

“It has been a huge privilege to be involved in the development of mission and evangelism in the Leicester diocese over the last decade and to serve as Director of Mission and Ministry. I am delighted that this new role will enable me to continue to work in this area while taking on wider responsibilities as Bishop of Dunwich in the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.”

Mike is married to Rachel, an occupational therapist and they have 4 children, aged 13 to 21. For many years Mike has enjoyed running, completing a number of marathons, as well as keeping fit through swimming, cycling and the gym. He is a passionate supporter of Bolton Wanderers (having been born in Bolton) and (not unrelated) has an interest in live comedy.

St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocesan website: The next Bishop of Dunwich announced
Leicester diocesan website: Mike Harrison appointed next Bishop of Dunwich


Martyn Percy calls on Archbishop Welby to issue an apology

Modern Church has issued the following press release. To access the essay itself, go to this page, and follow the link provided.

AS THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND faces another scandal this week over same-sex marriage and its treatment of clergy in same sex relationships, a senior Anglican professor has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise for the Church’s mistakes in its response to homosexuality around the world.

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and a Vice President of Modern Church, has published an article petitioning Justin Welby in his role as head of the global Anglican Communion.

In an essay called Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans, Prof Percy examines the Archbishop’s approach to the Anglican Communion’s tensions over homosexuality and same-sex marriage ahead of the meeting of Anglican Primates he has convened for 11-16 January 2016 in Canterbury. Prof Percy warns that if the Church of England maintains its current course in responding to conflicts around sexuality and same-sex marriage may lead to its disestablishment:

‘For any national church to turn its face away from those who are full and equal citizens, and have their unions and marriages recognised as such, effectively augments a process of de-nationalisation and privatisation. It is a route-march towards a tribal church.’

In the Anglican Communion, which represents an estimated 85 million people in 165 countries, the Archbishop of Canterbury also faces the challenge of how to respond to religious, cultural and legal homophobia. In 41 of the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth, homosexual conduct is still regarded as criminal. Prof Percy calls for the Archbishop to acknowledge that:

‘(the) legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely ‘made in England’ in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic. This is one of England’s less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates’ meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them.’

Prof Percy critiques Archbishop Welby’s decision to invite Archbishop Foley Beach of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to attend the Primates’ meeting, without consulting the official Episcopal Churches in the USA and Canada, and suggests:

‘So the Archbishop of Canterbury could begin proceedings in January by offering an apology to American and Canadian Anglicans for his intemperate gestures towards ACNA, and his lack of consultation, which has undermined them. He should further apologise for dealing in territories and spheres of authority that are simply not his to meddle with.’

He also warns against using the widespread belief that the Anglican churches of the global south now form the majority and are the only ones growing numerically to cede ‘more moral ground…to African churches…than might be judicious’ in divisive debates over sexual ethics. He calls for greater recognition of inequality and imbalance of power in the current debate:

‘Those needing protection and care are still lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians… Conservatives are not oppressed or criminalised for their opposition to lesbian, gay and bisexual people – ever, anywhere.‘

He recognises that for some Conservative Christians who argue that relationships between the sexes are prescribed and proscribed in the Bible, the issue will continue to be non-negotiable,

‘But if equal rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people seeking to have faithful and life-long blessing of their relationship recognised and blessed is seen as matter of justice and equality, then we have a different Christian perspective to contemplate.’

Prof Percy advises against affirming dissonant voices from the global south ‘to uphold an oppressive conservative coalition that is determined to denigrate those of a more liberal persuasion’, which has placed the Church of England in alliance with developing nations but out of kilter with the rest of the UK.

He argues that the recent employment tribunal for Jeremy Pemberton – a priest who has married his male partner – which ruled that the Church of England was allowed to discriminate against Pemberton, because the church had exempted itself from UK equality legislation, ‘gave the Church of England the worst kind of Pyrrhic victory.’

This is compounded by the decision to discriminate against those being considered for future high office in the church based on any statements the candidate has previously made on same-sex relations:

‘The Church of England is, in other words, not only enshrining, but also perpetuating its own discrimination, while statistical surveys of churchgoers repeatedly show that there is growing toleration for same-sex unions in congregations and amongst clergy.’

This is not a situation unique to the Church of England, though it is particularly acute for Justin Welby as he tries to hold the Anglican Communion together in its tensions over the issue of sexuality and marriage. Archbishop Justin’s task is to appease conservative voices in the developing south of the Communion, yet at the same time not lose a whole generation of young people to the Church of England:

‘The Primates need to grasp that lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians are now an inescapable part of the Anglican Communion. In many countries across the world, they enjoy full and equal citizenship under the law. So, the Primates need to turn their critical attention to those countries in which they have influence, where this is not yet so.’

Prof Percy believes Archbishop Justin has a real opportunity to succeed where Pope Francis has recently failed in his recent Synod on the Family:

‘Simply put, no matter what his fellow Archbishops think about the right way to talk about homosexuality, there is no case for oppressing lesbian, gay and bisexual people under criminal law. In any country, anywhere.’


Martyn Snow to be next Bishop of Leicester

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Leicester: Martyn James Snow

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
First published: 15 December 2015

The Queen has approved the nomination of Right Reverend Martyn Snow for election as Bishop of Leicester.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Martyn James Snow, BSc, BTh, MA Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury, in the diocese of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Leicester in succession to the Right Reverend Timothy John Stevens, MA, on his resignation on 31 August 2015.

Notes for editors

The Right Reverend Martyn Snow (aged 47), studied at Sheffield University and then trained for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He served his first curacy at Brinsworth with Catcliffe and Treeton in the diocese of Sheffield from 1995 to 1997. He worked for the Church Mission Society in Guinea, West Africa from 1998 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2010 he was vicar at Christ Church, Pitsmoor, in the diocese of Sheffield. From 2007 to 2010 he was also Area Dean of Ecclesfield. From 2010 to 2013 he was Archdeacon of Sheffield and Rotherham. Since 2013 he has been Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury.

The Right Reverend Martyn Snow is married to Dr Lynn Snow, a paediatrician and they have 3 children (aged 14, 12 and 10). Alongside his enjoyment of travel and engaging with other cultures, his interests include sport, music and kayaking.

Leicester diocesan website Welcome to the New Bishop of Leicester
Gloucester diocesan website Bishop Martyn to become next Bishop of Leicester


Church of England criticised by survivor of sexual abuse

This week the Church Times carries a long article by Professor Julie Macfarlane of the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada about her experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest in England.

An abuse survivor’s tale

Today the BBC Sunday programme carried an interview with her. You can hear it in the last 9.5 minutes of the programme, here, from 34.5 minutes onwards.

This includes the reading out of a statement issued by the Church of England in response. There is also a discussion of the legal issues with Joshua Rozenberg.


EHRC statements on cinema advertisement ban

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission issued the following statement on 11 December:

Statement on Freedom of Expression and the Lord’s Prayer

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today announced that the issues raised by Digital Cinema Media’s (DCM) decision not to show a Church of England advert about the Lord’s Prayer in cinemas, will be examined as part of a major Commission report.

This report, examining the adequacy of the law protecting freedom of religion or belief, will be published early next year. The DCM decision has generated significant public concern about freedom of speech.

The Commission, the national expert in equality and human rights law, has also offered its legal expertise for the purpose of intervening in the case should the Church take legal proceedings against DCM.

The Commission has written to DCM to highlight the importance of Britain’s long tradition of freedom of expression and to reiterate its concerns about the justification for not showing the advertisement being that it risked offending audiences. There is no right in Britain not to be offended, and respect for people’s right to express beliefs with which others might disagree is the mark of a democratic society.

Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said:

“We strongly disagree with the decision not to show the adverts on the grounds they might ‘offend’ people.
“There is no right not to be offended in the UK; what is offensive is very subjective and this is a slippery slope towards increasing censorship.”
“We also understand why people were confused that a commercial Christmas can be advertised but the central Christian prayer cannot. We will therefore examine the issues raised by this case as part of our major review into the law protecting freedom of religion or belief, and publish our findings in the new year.”

Earlier, on 23 November, the Commission had issued this statement: Commission comments on Christian advert being banned from cinemas

Commenting in response to a Christian advert being banned from being shown in the cinema, a Commission spokesperson, said:

“Freedom to hold a religion and freedom to express ideas are essential British values. We are concerned by any blanket ban on adverts by all religious groups.
“Digital Cinema Media have said an advert could cause offence to those of differing faiths or without belief. There is no right not to be offended in the UK; what is offensive is very subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder.
“This does not mean groups or individuals are free to express themselves without restriction. Freedom of expression can be and is restricted but only in order to prevent violence, abuse or discrimination for example. There is nothing in law that prevents Christian organisations promoting their faith through adverts.”



Rose Grigg Dear Church of England: from a gay ordinand

Nancy Rockwell Patheos No More Lying About Mary

‘The tide is turning’: Justin Welby interviewed by Michael Gove in The Spectator
Kelvin Holdsworth The next five questions the Archbishop needs to be asked


Married clergyman banned in Winchester

Updated Sunday evening

Canon Jeremy Davies, the retired precentor of Salisbury Cathedral has been denied Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Winchester.

Salisbury canon banned from preaching in Winchester over gay marriage

A CLERGYMAN from Salisbury has been banned from taking services in Winchester because he married his gay partner last year.

Canon Jeremy Davies, who served as Canon Precentor at Salisbury Cathedral for more than 25 years, has been told he cannot preach in the Winchester Diocese because he married opera singer Simon McEnery.

Winchester Cathedral had recently asked Canon Davies to take a number of services in the future, which he will now not be allowed to carry out.

The Diocese of Winchester objected to the fact that a year ago, Canon Davies married his partner of nearly thirty years.

Since the wedding, Jeremy has taken more than half a dozen services in Winchester Cathedral, with no objections.

In fact, Jeremy has been much in demand since his retirement, preaching and lecturing regularly both in the UK and the United States.

A spokesman for the Winchester Diocese said: “Canon Jeremy Davies made an application earlier this year for permission to officiate in the Diocese of Winchester.

“Due to the Church of England’s position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful.”


This story has now been reported in the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, and on the BBC.