Thinking Anglicans

WATCH launches Report on the Developments in Women’s Ministry 2016

Women and the Church (WATCH) launched its annual report on “Developments in Women’s Ministry 2016” at a fringe event at the General Synod today.

Read the report by clicking HERE.

From the press release:

Speaking at the event the newly elected Chair of WATCH, Revd. Canon Emma Percy said “The WATCH report clearly shows that whilst much has been achieved there is still a significant way to travel before women have any degree of equality in the church.

Yes we have women priests and bishops but recent appointments have shown that there continues to be a high disparity between the opportunity and prospects of male and female clergy.

From the latest available figures whilst roughly equal numbers of men and women are ordained, only 27% are currently vicars or in more senior roles.

Women continue to be under-represented at senior levels within dioceses with 13 dioceses having no ex-officio women in Bishop’s senior staff and a further 22 that only have one women.

In 2016, ten people were made bishops but only three of these were women and sadly not one of them was appointed to be a Diocesan Bishop.

Today we publish a table showing the percentage of women in incumbent level appointments by diocese. With an average of only 24% of women incumbents across all the dioceses, many fall well short even of this low percentage.


New publications in anticipation of tomorrow's debate on the bishops' report

There are two new publications in anticipation of tomorrow’s debate on the Bishops’ report on sexuality.

1. This Open Letter from Open Evangelicals to the Evangelical Group on General Synod has been published today.

On February 2nd 2017 five “open evangelical” members of EGGS (the Evangelical Group on General Synod) wrote to the whole EGGS membership, urging them to reflect and repent on three core issues relating to the “sexuality debate”.

They also asked three key questions which they felt the evangelical community needed to respond to.

Other evangelicals on Synod had also wished to sign the letter, but were unable to as they had not felt able to become members of EGGS due to its hard line on certain issues. It was therefore released for open signature by all evangelicals following the meeting.

The three questions are:

  • What is God’s “Good News” for LGBT people?
  • How do we respond to the mounting scientific evidence that sexuality is neither chosen nor changeable, and that gender is non-binary?
  • How do we deal with the reality of an increasing number of LGBT married couples with children who wish to worship in our churches?

2. OneBodyOneFaith (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement) have published A time to build in which they seek

  • For an explicit acceptance of the integrity of theological diversity over matters of sexuality – that it is possible to be Biblically faithful and hold different positions – and the creation of systems to assure that this is honoured. The establishment of a Sexuality and Relationships Working Group which will be responsible for ‘holding’ the theological diversity of the Church of England. Pilling has already described the different positions –the reference group needs to be tasked with exploring how they live with each other, and how the church develops theologically, and how pastoral oversight is given in the context of the range of views present in the Church of England.
  • In addition to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group there needs to be a significant level of LGBTI+ representation on each of its boards, councils and divisions for which the Archbishops’ council has oversight – the representatives should be chosen by members of all houses of Synod, not by the Archbishops’ Council or bishops alone
  • For the Church of England to appoint a National Lead for LGBTI+ matters based at Church House – LGBTI+ themselves, who works to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group and liaises with boards, councils, divisions and dioceses, holds to the need for the kind of change that we propose, but also understands and accepts the need to support all sides
  • For the publication and recommendation of an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples after a Civil Partnership or Civil Marriage – this does not need to be complicated. The Service of Prayer and Thanksgiving after a civil marriage could be adjusted very simply
  • To effect paragraph 13 (a) of Annex 1: Sexuality Issues: what is and is not possible under the relevant legal positions, so that being married to a person of the same sex is not of itself a breach of Canon C26.2

General Synod – day 2 – Tuesday 14 February

Updated during the day and on Wednesday

Order paper for the day

The following private member’s motion, proposed by Stephen Trott, was defeated.

That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland since 1977, when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.

Voting was by houses, and the motion was lost in all three.

  for   against   abstentions
bishops   10 16 0
clergy 74 87 0
laity 79 81 7

Official press release on this debate: General Synod votes to retain marriage banns

Most of the day was devoted to legislation.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Tuesday

Archbishop of York General Synod Farewell to Sir Andreas Whittam Smith

Press reports

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church No Ban on Banns
A Sleepy Session

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian ‘We must discriminate’: pre-wedding passport checks cause stress, say clergy

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Church keeps medieval marriage banns to attract young worshippers

1 Comment

Scottish Primus to retire

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane, is to retire at the end of July. He became a bishop in 2005 and has been Primus since 2009.

The official announcement can be read here on the SEC website.

With the recent retirement of the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, there will soon be two new Anglican primates in the British Isles.


Bishops' report – BBC radio coverage

As the General Synod started its meeting today, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme had an item on the Bishops’ report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships, and the forthcoming ‘take note’ debate. The piece featured a discussion between Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans and Chair of LGBTI Mission, and Susie Leafe, General Synod member and Director of Reform.

The 7-minute discussion can be heard here and begins at 1:21:45 in.


General Synod – day 1 – Monday 13 February

Updated during the day and on Tuesday

The General Synod of the Church of England is meeting in London from Monday 13 to Thursday 16 February. Links to the agenda and papers are here and here.

Order paper for Monday’s business

The final item of business on Monday is Questions. The questions and answers have been published in advance here and Synod will move directly to supplementary questions and answers when it gets to this item of business, which will be at about 5.30 pm.

Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian has been looking at the answer to question 36: C of E warns of ‘corrupting pressures of politics’ in response to Trump fears.

Olivia Rudgard of The Telegraph looks ahead to an item scheduled for Tuesday: Church of England ministers could work beyond the age of 70 to ease recruitment crisis.

Monday’s session starts at 3.00 pm from when there will be a live video stream of the proceedings.

Business included:

Synod agreed to include a Saturday in future dates (from 2018) for its February meetings in London. This will not result in longer meetings, but they will start later in the week.

This motion, marking the 500the anniversary of The Reformation, was passed:

That this Synod, in the context of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the European Reformation and the Church of England’s understanding of the doctrine of justification as expressed in our historic formularies:
(a) give thanks to God for the rich spiritual blessings that the Reformation brought to the Church of England;
(b) welcome signs of convergence between the churches on the doctrine of salvation, noting Resolution 16.17 of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016 regarding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification and its relation to the Helsinski Report and ARCIC II’s Salvation and the Church; and
(c) commend initiatives in this anniversary year to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation between churches, for the sake of our deeper renewal in the grace of God and our ability to share the gospel of salvation with all the world.

[Press release: General Synod hails reconciliation as Christians mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation]

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave this presidential address.

Official summary of the day’s business: General Synod February group of sessions 2017: Monday

Audio of all the sessions

Press reports

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury suggests Brexit ‘in fascist tradition’

Harry Farley Christian Today Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK ‘Savagely Divided’ – Archbishop Of Canterbury

Zachary Guiliano The Living Church Rumbling and Remembering

Patrick Foster The Telegraph Donald Trump is part of a ‘fascist tradition of politics’, says Archbishop

Tom Embury-Dennis Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby links Donald Trump and Brexit to fascism


Retired bishops voice concern over same sex relationships report

This is the text of the letter that has been published tonight. There is an accompanying press release which is copied below the fold.

February 11th 2017

Dear Fellow Bishop
The Bishops’ Report to Synod on Sexuality

Most retired bishops would be prepared to admit that participation in the synodical processes of the church are not what they most miss about their role as diocesan or suffragan bishops. They also feel some reticence about entering into the current debates occupying their successors on the basis of information that is partial and becomes more and more dated with the passing of the years. There is a dilemma, though: you don’t work for years as a bishop and then easily and suddenly lose the bond you feel for the bishops, your successors and former colleagues. Nor do you lose your concern that the church of which you continue to be a bishop should be faithful in its commendation of the Gospel to the society at large.

So when a report emerges that is the subject of major controversy within the church and society some retired bishops will wish to do what the signatories of this letter are seeking to do, namely to reflect from their particular perspective on what our successors are seeking to say and do about an issue that has been a longstanding source of concern and contention.

Your statement is the product of enormous time and effort, our memories of such situation suggesting perhaps too much time and too much effort. The ‘too much’ comes from the enormous sense of responsibility your document shows to manage a conflict that you and we know causes huge amounts of grief and argument. The result, dare we say, is that whereas it used to be said that bishops often sounded as though they spoke with a pipe in their mouths, now that pipes are rare they sound more as though they see their task as managing – rather than perhaps enabling or leading – the conflicts that are bound to occur. And we remember how exhausting that is, and how it seems to blunt the edge of bishops’ own passionate convictions, which might divide them but also invigorate the conversation.

You write after the Shared Conversations. We well remember having had lots of those, even if they did not have capital letters. But their integrity rested on the assurance that in reporting them the voices of those who participated would not be drowned out by the ‘majority view’ or ‘established position’. Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice. Our experience would lead us to doubt whether there was an expectation around that canons and doctrinal statements would be changed within any reasonable timescale, and that focus seems to have taken far more time than it would have done if the authentic voices of lesbian and gay people had been allowed to express the major focus of their hopes. Going down the road of seeking a change in the law or doctrinal formulation would indeed not have been realistic – but you might not have had to spend as much time explaining why if those other voices had been allowed to come through more clearly.

The result of that focus on the issue of a change in the law is that your call for change of tone and culture, while absolutely right, does not carry conviction. Indeed, from the perhaps luxurious perspective of retirement the tone and culture of your document are incredibly familiar – we’ve been there and talked in that tone of voice, and it prevents calls for a change of culture, of course offered in complete sincerity by you, from ringing true.

We’ll avoid making too many detailed points just now; but hard as you have tried you have really not allowed the theological voice of some of us to be heard properly. In para 8 you draw a contrast between ‘the many who [hold] a conservative view of scripture [for whom] the underlying issue at stake is faithfulness to God’s word’ and others for whom ‘the imperative to read scripture differently stems from a parallel conviction’. If the second group are to recognise their voice in theological conversations their ‘parallel conviction’ needs to be expressed and not just alluded to.

May we end by assuring you that we continue to sympathise with the challenging nature of the task you have in this and other matters. You will receive much negative comment about your report, and we hope that these brief remarks may illuminate the reason for that: it is not that the Shared Conversations were thought to herald changes of law or doctrine; rather there will be deep disappointment that those who are not officially part of your meetings, who experience at first hand the struggles you only allude to, have once again been spoken about by their bishops instead of being enabled to speak in their own voice about their future and the future of the church they belong to and care about.

Yours sincerely in Christ

The Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson, formerly Bishop of Thetford
The Rt Revd Michael Doe, formerly Bishop of Swindon
The Rt Revd Dr Timothy Ellis, formerly Bishop of Grantham
The Rt Revd David Gillett, formerly Bishop of Bolton
The Rt Revd John Gladwin, formerly Bishop of Guildford and of Chelmsford
The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green, formerly Bishop of Bradwell
The Rt Revd the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, formerly Bishop of Hulme
The Rt Revd Dr Stephen Platten, formerly Bishop of Wakefield
The Rt Revd John Pritchard, formerly Bishop of Oxford
The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester
The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, formerly Bishop of Leicester
The Rt Revd Roy Williamson, formerly Bishop of Bradford and of Southwark
The Rt Revd Martin Wharton CBE, formerly Bishop of Newcastle



Opinion – 11 February 2017

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News The Anti-Testimony (on reading the House of Bishops’ Report)

Giles Fraser The Guardian The church’s strategy on protecting the child is designed to protect itself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham The Spectator The slow, strange race to be the next Bishop of London

Erin Clark a funny thing happened on the way to decorum the duchess be with you

Jem Bloomfield quiteirregular Vada the Omi: On the Polari Evensong

Tim Thorlby Church Times Open up the doors and let the people come in

Emma Percy WATCH What we might learn from the business world about equality and diversity


New name for merged Changing Attitude and LGCM

Following the recent announcement that LGCM and Changing Attitude are to merge, the two bodies have consulted on a new name for the combined body, which will be known as OneBodyOneFaith.

Details on the background to the choice of name can be read here.

Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the LGCM Board writes:

We are proud to announce that from 14th February we will be known as


We will also use an explicatory strapline to help people locate what we do more easily. This is:

Affirming sexuality and gender in Christ

We will also be unveiling a new logo, and you’ll see a gradul change in our identity online, on social media and in the resources we produce to support our work.


Protests planned at synod over marriage and sexuality report

Today’s Church Times carries a lot of relevant material.

News report: Madeleine Davies Critics of Bishops’ sex report plan a Synod protest vote

THE House of Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships (News, 3 February) is a “morally reprehensible document that needs to be rejected by the Synod”, the Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury, Canon Simon Butler, said on Wednesday.

Describing it as a “betrayal of trust” that left “weapons on the table”, he expected a “very close vote” after the take-note debate scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening.

“If it is defeated, that is a clear signal to the House of Bishops that Synod is unwilling to progress in the direction they are taking,” he said. “If it is a narrow vote, the Bishops would be very unwise to continue down this course, because the whole of the Church’s wider agenda will be subsumed into a conflict that will last for the next period of the life of the Church. That would be a disaster.”

The Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of York, the Ven. Cherry Vann, said on Wednesday that she was “very aware of deep unhappiness about this report from across a wide spectrum of the Church”. Conversations with clergy and laity in the diocese of Manchester, and emails from people beyond, indicated a “strong call” for the Synod not to take note…

There are two comment articles. I strongly recommend that you read each of these all the way through, to get their full import.

Andrew Davison Everything hinges on three words

…What I have said so far draws on what the report says about the Bishops’ meetings, where the line in the sand concerned the law and doctrine of marriage. Skip forward in the report, and this principle morphs to “proposing no change to . . . law . . . or doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships” (§26). That shift is important because, in the next paragraph, this phrase limits what is up for consideration, not least by theologians.

…until it is clear what the Bishops take as immovable, we cannot go forward. Is it marriage, as laid out in Canon B.30, or the entire jumble of central-office convictions about anything to do with sexuality? The report suggests the former. The emphasis on marriage as the red line emerges from the account of the Bishops’ group; it is reiterated in relation to liturgical practice (§39); it is what they want to uphold ecumenically (§60); and it is also where the report ends, with an annex devoted entirely to questions of marriage…

Malcolm Brown The pain lies in facing hard truths

…But, however much the Bishops bear the brickbats with resignation, much comment on their recent Synod paper (GS 2055) underestimates the extent to which the Bishops and, indeed, the Church of England are bound by law in ways that severely limit their scope for manoeuvre.

Start with the law on marriage. The annex to the Bishops’ paper is not mere detail. It sets out the legal framework that would govern any attempt to change things as they are.

For there to be any move to same-sex marriage, canon law would have to change. That law cannot be changed without substantial majorities in each of the Houses of Synod. The Bishops have been accused of lacking pastoral concern (and worse), but how pastoral would it be to initiate a long process with all the continued pain it would cause with no serious likelihood (in the present state of the Church) of success?


Further comments on the GS 2055 report

Earlier articles containing such comments can be found here, and here, and also here. There are further items here, and here.

New items continue to pour out:

Mark Hart What the Report from the House of Bishops Really Says

Al Barrett After listening? A response to the CofE House of Bishops

Andrew Lightbown Unity, dissent and episcopacy.

St Martin in the Fields A Fresh Tone and Culture:
A Response to Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations:
A Report from the House of Bishops

Jonathan Clatworthy Here we go again

Richard Peers For loving-kindness sake: an open letter to members of General Synod

Jeremy Clines By way of apology for the Church of England: sexuality report

Colin Coward The Bishops’ report – a holistic reaction
Three wasted, humiliating years
The dark shadow over the Church of England
David Walker: “the law will not change” – Pete Broadbent: “same sex marriage doesn’t exist”

There are some who support the bishops, for example

Fulcrum Fulcrum Response to GS 2055

Andrew Goddard Giving and Receiving Episcopal Oversight: The Bishops’ Report (GS 2055)

Ian Paul Were the Shared Conversations just a Con?

And you can find much longer lists of supporting articles here.


Setting God's People Free

Updated Tuesday evening

Setting God’s People Free (GS 2056) is a report from the Archbishops’ Council to be debated at General Synod on the morning of Thursday 16 February. There is a brief summary on the Renewal & Reform pages of the Church of England website. The report aims to generate more active engagement by lay churchpeople.

There was a press release when the report was published, which we reported here.

To this can now be added these press reports

Hattie Williams Church Times New report calls for shift in attitude towards laity
Harry Farley Christian Today Clergy V Laity ‘Power Struggle’ Is Blocking Church Growth, Synod Told

and these comments/reviews

Jonathan Clatworthy Modern Church Setting God’s people free to do what they are told (follow the link at the end for the full report)
David Keen Opinionated Vicar ‘Setting God’s People Free’ – ministry on the other 6 days of the week, and who does it
Will Briggs Journeyman Review: Setting God’s People Free – A Report from the Archbishops’ Council.


Two from the CofE’s Renewal and Reform Facebook page

Andrew Nunn Why we should value the true treasures of the Church
Paul Cartwright ‘I Come to do Your will’
[The Andrew Nunn piece was included in our most recent Opinion roundup]

and an audio recording of an interview with Canon Mark Russell (who will be proposing the motion at Synod on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council): Why change is needed for Church growth


Letter writing campaign against GS 2055

This letter has been sent to all LGCM, Changing Attitude and Inclusive Church supporters:

Like very many people, we were shocked and dismayed at the report published last week by a working party of the House of Bishops of the Church of England. You can read the report here. Despite a wish to create “maximal freedom” for LGBTI+ people, and a desire to have a “change of tone” in the way we are spoken about and to, there was essentially a recommendation of no change at all in the official position of the Church of England.

For too many of our members, who had taken part in all good faith in the Shared Conversations, this was a very significant betrayal of trust. LGCM is also concerned that the established church, in which the country as a whole has a stake, is proposing to retain unchanged a theology and pastoral practice and discipline that is significantly out of kilter with the nation’s understanding of equality and justice in matters of sexuality and gender. This is an issue which affects all those of us who believe our sexuality to be a gift from God. The Church of England seeks to engage with all the communities of England, and yet it does so in a way which diminishes the gospel message that God’s love is for everyone, without exception. We are all alike impeded in our mission of conveying the message that God’s love is for everyone, regardless of who they are, or who they love.

The Report is coming to General Synod on 15th February. There is to be a debate, at the end of which the Synod will be asked to “take note” of the Report. We are asking all members of General Synod not to take note. In other words, to vote against the motion.

LGCM is clear about its convictions and its purpose. The Statement of Conviction says:
It is the conviction of the members of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement that human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is their conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.
We are looking for the bishops of the Church of England to start to move in the direction of our convictions, and to acknowledge those as a permissible and honourable position to hold if you are an Anglican.

We ask ALL OUR MEMBERS AND ALL CHANGING ATTITUDE SUPPORTERS TO WRITE A PERSONAL LETTER TO GENERAL SYNOD REPRESENTATIVES to arrive before 13th February. It does not matter if you are not personally a member of the Church of England – as it is the Established Church you have an interest in their attitudes and policies and every right to express your view to its governing body. Share with them the memorandum attached [below the fold], and your hope that they will vote against taking note of it. Explain to them which parish or church you belong to and any office or role you play in that church (if you do). Tell them why this matters to you and ask them to vote against taking note. A personal letter will make much more impact than a brief email or text. Please also COPY YOUR LETTER TO THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE IN WHICH YOU LIVE. Pick up your pens and play your part in this vital campaign. Addresses of all Synod Members are here. If you would like to write but need help in identifying who are the right people to write to please contact us at and we will direct you to the correct people. We are looking for a substantial vote against this dangerous and inadequate report.

Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM



Opinion – 4 February 2017

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, On Not Taking Note and Dreaming Dreams

Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark, Why we should value the true treasures of the Church

Archdruid Eileen Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley The Church of St Julian and St Sandy

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 ‘Good news!’ ‘Andrew there is no good news.’
Dear Bishops (an open letter suggesting you withdraw your report)

Helen King So, what was the point of all that?

Jeremy Pemberton From the Choir Stalls Anglican Alternative Facts

Savi Hensman Ekklesia Sexuality, gender and disrespect for scripture

Letters to the Church Magazine: February 2017


Church Times coverage of the bishops' sexuality report

There are two news articles today:

No change on marriage after the Shared Conversations by Hattie Williams.
Yes, this article was first published last week on the website, and linked here previously, but scroll down for a new article There was talk, but who was listening? by Madeleine Davies

Critics call Bishops’ gay report ungodly by Hattie Williams.

And there is a long editorial: The united front.


Safeguarding at Iwerne Trust

Channel 4 News reported yesterday on allegations of abuse at the Iwerne Trust: Archbishop admits Church ‘failed terribly’ over abuse revelations

The Church of England has tonight apologised unreservedly after a Channel 4 News investigation revealed that a prominent Anglican evangelical and former colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury is alleged to have severely assaulted boys and young men for decades…

Other news reports include:

Patrick Foster, Nicola Harley, and Lydia Willgress The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury issues ‘unreserved and unequivocal’ apology after links to ‘child abuser’ emerge
‘I could feel the blood spattering on my legs’: Victims tell of ‘horrific’ beatings at hands of Archbishop’s friend

Samuel Osborne The Independent Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issues apology over Church of England links to ‘child abuser’

Kevin Rawlinson and Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church ‘could have done more’ over John Smyth abuse claims

The Archbishop has issued this statement in response to the Channel 4 News report.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury was a Dormitory Officer at Iwerne holiday camp in the late 1970s, where boys from public schools learnt to develop life as Christians. The role was to be a mentor to the boys, as was that of his now wife at a similar camp for girls.

John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the Archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him. The Archbishop left England to work in Paris for an oil company in 1978, where he remained for five years. He began training for ordination in 1989.

The Archbishop knew Mr Smyth had moved overseas but, apart from the occasional card, did not maintain contact with him.

In August 2013 the Bishop of Ely wrote to the Bishop of Cape Town, informing him of concerns expressed to his Diocese Safeguarding Adviser about Mr Smyth from an alleged survivor. The British Police had been notified. The Archbishop’s Chaplain at the time was forwarded this letter, and subsequently showed it to the Archbishop for information only.

The Archbishop has repeatedly said that he believes that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be a principle priority in all parts of the Church, and that any failings in this area must be immediately reported to the police.

The Archbishop is on the record as saying that survivors must come first, not the Church’s own interests. This applies regardless of how important, distinguished or well-known the perpetrator is.”

There is also a statement from the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Adviser.

“The violent abuse of young men between 1978-82, as outlined in the Channel 4 programme, should never have happened and we utterly condemn this behaviour and abuse of power and trust. The report into these horrific activities, drawn up by those linked with the Iwerne Trust, a non-denominational Christian charity, should have been forwarded to the police at the time. When the Church of England was alerted by a survivor, through the diocese of Ely in 2013, the police were immediately informed as was the Anglican Church in South Africa where Mr Smyth was then living. The national safeguarding officer, which was a part time post, was informed and helped find support for the survivors. Clearly more could have been done at the time to look further into the case. We now have a dedicated central team made up of six full time posts – we will be reviewing all files making further enquiries as necessary. We echo the Archbishop’s unreserved and unequivocal apology to all the survivors and are committed to listen to anyone who comes forward and we would urge anyone with any further information to report it to the police “


Anglican Mission Agencies united against US immigration changes

ACNS press release:

Several Anglican mission agencies have put out a joint statement expressing “profound concern” at President Trump’s executive order on immigration – barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and blocking all refugees from Syria.

A coalition of seven mission agencies within the Church of England said: “We understand President Trump’s desire to protect America from extremism but we do not accept that it is ever right to discriminate against people simply on the basis of their ethnicity, religion or country of origin. We call on the British and other governments not only to seek exceptions for its own citizens but justice for all. We call on the US Government to reverse its current policy and to renew its commitment to freedom for all.”

The statement follows criticism of the immigration measures from church leaders.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, issued a statement expressing shock at the new restrictions: “It is extraordinary that any civilised country should stigmatise and ban citizens of other nations in the matter of providing humanitarian protection. In Christ, we are called to welcome the stranger especially when in desperate need,” he said.

In the United States there have been statements from a number of Episcopal dioceses. In Massachusetts, a joint letter from 17 church leaders, opposing the executive action, received the backing of three Episcopal Bishops : “We grieve this decision to limit refugees, as it will cause further suffering, not just to our fellow Christians escaping persecution, but all refugees fleeing violence.”

In a statement, Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of California said: “We must honour the contributions of immigrants who are here to seek peace and stability for their families. Please join me in praying for our nation and for a change of heart for President Trump and his administration.”

Bishop James Mathes of San Diego wrote : “the last nine days have been a disquieting and dizzying display of presidential action in Mr Trump’s first days in office. The executive order is an affront to our sense of fairness and equity…President Trump’s actions are unacceptable and un-American. They do not represent who we are as a people. We must recover our senses. It is time to speak out in the name of all faiths and our national identity as a people united in our diversity. That is our gift to the world.”

In Washington, Bishop Mariann Budde wrote: “The list of alarming actions and statements from President Trump’s first week in office takes our collective breath away.”

Bishop Robert Hirschfeld of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire said: “The Executive Order tightly restricting immigration and refugee resettlement based on religious identity has done very little but intensify global tensions while worsening human suffering among those who honour and admire this nation. What is called for is competent diplomacy, informed statesmanship and a clear commitment to the biblically informed ideals of hospitality to the stranger and the oppressed. That these values are being so cavalierly rejected in favour of rash and fear-based edicts not only violates the dignity of those immediately affected, but also damages our own reputation.”


Archbishop of Canterbury sets out vision for 2017 Primates Meeting

Updated Thursday evening

The Episcopal Church has issued the following notice:

Statement from the Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council
As the Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council, we were dismayed to read in today’s Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) an article that claims we did not vote on matters of doctrine or polity at the most recent meeting of the ACC, known as ACC-16, held in Lusaka, Zambia in April 2016. This report is wrong.
Each of us attended the entire ACC-16 meeting and voted on every resolution that came before the body, including a number that concerned the doctrine and polity of the Anglican Communion. As the duly elected ACC members of a province of the Anglican Communion, this was our responsibility and we fulfilled it.
It could be inferred from today’s ACNS story that we did not fulfill our voting responsibilities at ACC-16 to comply with a communique issued by the primates of the Anglican Communion in January 2016. The communique sought to impose consequences on the Episcopal Church for its adoption of marriage equality at our 2015 General Convention. Such an inference would be incorrect.
At the beginning of ACC-16, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion issued a statement saying that it had “considered the Communiqué from the Primates and affirmed the relational links between the Instruments of Communion in which each Instrument, including the Anglican Consultative Council, forms its own views and has its own responsibilities.” After ACC-16 had concluded, six outgoing members of the Standing Committee released a letter reasserting that “ACC16 neither endorsed nor affirmed the consequences contained in the Primates’ Communiqué.”
As members of the Anglican Consultative Council, we thank God for the time we have spent with sisters and brothers in Christ from across the globe, and for the breadth and diversity of our global Anglican family. We are firmly committed to the Episcopal Church’s full participation in the Anglican Communion, and we hope that, in the future, our participation will be reported accurately by the Anglican Communion News Service.
Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine
Ian T. Douglas
Gay Clark Jennings
Episcopal Church members of the 16th Anglican Consultative Council, Lusaka, Zambia

In response to this, the ACNS report was modified on the website and the following note added at the end:

This article was updated on 2 February to make clear that no formal votes were held on issues of doctrine and polity at ACC-16. None was necessary because all such matters were agreed by consensus.

The copy of the article that appears below is the original unaltered. The revised version is here. You can see the differences for yourself.

This press release has appeared: Archbishop of Canterbury sets out vision for 2017 Primates Meeting. The actual text of the letter which this refers to has not been published yet. A significant part of this press release refers to the recently published document from the House of Bishops on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships.

[ACNS] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to every primate in the Anglican Communion to set out his hopes for the next Primates’ Meeting, which will take place in Canterbury in October. He also gave details of last week’s report by the Church of England’s House of Bishops on human sexuality. In the letter, Archbishop Justin sets out his vision for the meeting in Canterbury as an opportunity for relaxed fellowship and mutual consultation. He invites the primates to submit items for the agenda and says he’s aware of the pressures under which many of them live.

“I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor and proclaim the Kingdom of God,” he says.

The Archbishop goes on to unpack the declaration on human sexuality which was published last week before a debate at the Church of England’s General Synod later this month.

He describes as a “key outcome” the recommendation that the Church of England’s teaching on marriage should remain unchanged, meaning there can be no same-sex weddings in the Church of England. But he adds that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples needs clarification and notes the Bishops’ acknowledgment that the Church needs to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke.

Last week’s report has also been welcomed by the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who said: “The issue of same-sex marriage is highly emotive within the church. I understand the depth of passion on each side of the debate and I understand that any decision will leave some feeling disappointed and wounded by the outcome.

“I support the Bishops’ declaration that doctrine on marriage should not change – that marriage should be a lifelong commitment between a man and woman. The Anglican Communion position is set out in Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference. That is our lodestar.

“But it is right that we acknowledge that some of our brothers and sisters do have same-sex attraction and I support the move for a ‘fresh tone’ in the way the issues are debated. Anglicans are called to love all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. We are committed to welcoming and loving people with same-sex attraction. More than that, we need to fight against homophobia and anything that criminalises LGBTQ people.”

Preparations for the Primates Meeting are well underway. Archbishop Justin’s invitation has been sent to the primates of the other 37 provinces of the Anglican Communion. It will be the first time the group has formally assembled since the gathering and meeting in January 2016, although many were in Rome last October at the invitation of the Anglican Centre there as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The 2016 Primates’ gathering drew worldwide attention. It concluded with a communiqué which set out consequences for the US-based Episcopal Church (TEC) following its decision to change its canon on same-sex marriage. As a result, members of TEC have stepped down from IASCUFO – the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order – and also from the IRAD ecumenical dialogue. Members of TEC participated in ACC-16 in Lusaka, but none voted on issues of doctrine and polity – another stipulation of the Primates’ communiqué.

The January 2016 meeting also called for the setting up of a Task Group to explore differences and seek ways to restore relationship and rebuild trust. The Task Group, which draws members from across the Anglican Communion, subsequently met in September last year and is due to meet again during 2017.