Thinking Anglicans

More on the See of Sheffield

Some further statements by various organisations or individuals:

Some comment articles (See also yesterday’s Opinion roundup)

And, from the Sheffield diocesan website:

Sheffield Diocese Introductory meeting with Women Clergy, Chaplains, Curates and Ordinands

Note this meeting occurred on 7 February but this document was apparently posted only on 7 March. It is well worth reading in full.

Two items from BBC Radio this morning:


Opinion – 11 March 2017

Mark Tanner Church Times How to run a perfect PCC

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Episcopacy, sacramentality & identity

Archdruid Eileen The Church of England’s Prayer for Today

Colin Coward Something is dramatically wrong with the C of E

Andy Walton Christian Today Why The Future Of The Church Of England Is In The Balance After The Sheffield Debacle

This is one I missed earlier:
Colin Coward A tale of two bishops


Bishop Philip North declines the See of Sheffield

Updated Thursday night and Friday morning

Statement from the Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd Philip North

09 March 2017
It is with regret and sadness that I have decided that I am unable to take up the nomination as Bishop of Sheffield.

The news of my nomination has elicited a strong reaction within the diocese and some areas of the wider Church. It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many.

I am grateful for the love, prayers and care that have been shown me over recent weeks by numerous people, especially the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Blackburn and the clergy of the Blackburn Diocese. In particular I would like to thank the Bishop of Doncaster and the diocesan team in Sheffield for their support.

I apologise to the many for whom this decision will come as a disappointment. There is clearly much to be done on what it means to disagree well and to live with theological difference in the Church of England. The highly individualised nature of the attacks upon me have been extremely hard to bear. If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love, how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the name of Christ? I hope though that this conversation can continue in the future without it being hung upon the shoulders of one individual. Find out more about online roulette and how to play roulette and win.

I do not doubt for one single second the Lordship of Christ or his call upon my life, but the pressures of recent weeks have left me reflecting on how He is calling me to serve him. I am grateful to the Bishop of Blackburn for allowing me a period of leave to reflect on and pray about the events of the past few weeks and would ask for this space to be respected. I hope that, as we continue on the Lenten journey, we will each be able to hear God’s voice speaking to us in the wilderness, drawing forth order and beauty from the messy chaos of our lives.

Notes to editors:

A statement from 10 Downing Street:
A statement from the Archbishop of York:
A statement from the Bishop of Blackburn:
A statement from the Bishop of Doncaster:

The Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd Philip North will not be available for any interviews.

Update (Thursday night)

A statement from The Society

A statement from Forward in Faith

Update (Friday morning)

Plenty of press coverage of this story including:

Church Times
Christian Today and also this covering the reaction.

And a selection from the mainstream media:

The Telegraph
The Guardian
The Times
The Mail


Bishop at Lambeth to retire

The Archbishop of Canterbury had announced today that Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, will retire in August 2017. Bishop Nigel’s successor will be announced in April.

Bishop Nigel is also Bishop to the Armed Forces, and, as such, a member of General Synod and the House of Bishops.


Anglicans for Decriminalization

The Living Reconciliation website has published: Anglicans are for the Decriminalization of LGBT People Worldwide.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of consensual same-gender intimacy in England and Wales, and the Church of England played a significant role in that historic achievement.

Maurice Tomlinson writes:

It was a 1955 Church committee report that proposed ending criminal sanctions for same-sex conduct, and this contributed to the government-appointed Wolfenden Committee (largely comprised of Anglicans) recommending decriminalization in 1959.

However, anti-gay laws still exist across the Commonwealth, and 38 of 53 countries maintain these archaic relics of British colonization. Church teaching inspired these dreadful statutes, but our beloved Church also called for their repeal, acting according to guiding tenets of Scripture. Consensus on decriminalization has proven difficult amongst independent Provinces because some senior clerics have argued that anti-sodomy laws are critical bulwarks against marriage-equality.

Yet a significant breakthrough occurred last year when the Primates met at Lambeth. The 38 Province heads agreed to the following statement against criminalization:

The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

The Global Anglican Communion opposes criminal sanctions against LGBTI people. [1]

Archbishop Justin Welby stressed that the unanimous view of the Primates is that ‘the criminalization of LGBTIQ people is entirely wrong’ when he confronted President Mugabe of Zimbabwe of on this very issue.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, says that for African Anglicans decriminalization is ‘the single most pressing issue around human sexuality’ and went on to say that:

The struggle for the legal, social, spiritual and physical safety of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is our issue in Nigeria and other places in Africa. The prophetic task for African Anglicans is to denounce violence and civil disabilities that are supported by members of our own communities and leadership.

He rightly says that African Anglicans must take a lead in this urgent task…

[footnote 1]The Primates of the Anglican Communion have consistently condemned ‘the victimisation and diminishment’ of any person due to their sexuality and in 2007 they supported the Don’t Throw Stones Statement. This was endorsed by the ACC in Jamaica in 2009 and confirmed by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion later that year. The time has come to put these fine words into action. The Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in 2011 condemned the homophobic murder of David Kato in Uganda.
The Primate of Wales was unable to attend and the Primate of Uganda had left before the communiqué was issued.

Do read the whole article, which contains a lot more information.


Discussion continues about the See of Sheffield

Updated again Tuesday

Continued from here.

The Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows has issued: Pastoral Letter for clergy and licensed lay members of the Diocese of Sheffield.

Arun Arora has written in the Yorkshire Post Why the CoE must be a broad church when it comes to new Bishop of Sheffield.

And in the same newspaper, a letter from Malcolm Grundy Bishop’s opposition to women priests should rule him out

Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian Sheffield’s new bishop is a slap in the face for the women of steel.

The Church Times has a lengthy roundup: Women Bishops rally round Philip North in Sheffield row

Andrew Lightbown Sheffield’s very own gordian knot

The Sheffield Action on Ministry Equality website has links to many other items:

The Sheffield Diocesan statement of needs that informed the CNC selection process is still available on the diocesan website.


Richard Peers wrote Oh for the wings of a dove: the Bishop of Sheffield and the betrayal of communion

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme has a lengthy report, available here, starting at about 31 minutes in.

Louise Haigh MP writes open letter to the new Bishop of Sheffield

Martyn Percy Abstaining: A Lenten Reflection (on Sheffield)

Joanna Collicut Splitting: a psychological reflection

Janet Morley A single church or a partnership?

Jonathan Clatworthy a three part series:
Sheffield’s women: who should tolerate what?
Sheffield’s women and church fudge
third part to come…

WATCH Looking for balance.


Opinion – 4 March 2017

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A tale of two bishops

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Lenten tips for choristers

Michael Perham Ash Wednesday Sermon 2017 Salisbury Cathedral
The diocese of Salisbury has this accompanying news item: A Moving Lenten Message: Bishop Michael Perham preaches final Ash Wednesday sermon at Salisbury Cathedral

Mark Tanner (the Church of England’s Northernmost Bishop) I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross…


A Meditation on Time

Lent is not only a season for reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, it is also traditionally a time to consider one’s own life and faith. The practice of giving something up for Lent is a sign and intention of our commitment to God, placing God before our own earthly desires and opening all of our life to God. By consciously denying ourselves things that make our lives easier, sweeter and more pleasurable, we focus more on the sacrifice Jesus made for the world. We become more aware of what we go through when we deny ourselves simple pleasures and what Jesus must have gone through during his resolute walk towards Jerusalem and the cross.

One of the most difficult things to give up is how we use time, how we typically cram a great deal of energetic activity and spinning, speeding thought into each waking moment. Today, as we pause for a few minutes, let us think about offering back to God the time God has graciously given to us.

A Meditation on Time

We are here today, sharing our lives, our time, with every other living creature on earth.

We live in time, and, to a large extent are ruled and governed by time, and yet, we worship a God who is outside of time, and we know ourselves to be citizens of eternity.

Sometimes, we experience time in a linear way: we live day by day, we have a past, we exist in the present and we look ahead to the future.

At other times, time seems to bend and curve, slow down, speed up, turn back: and it can feel as if we live more in the past, or we are so caught up in preparing for the future that we ignore the time we are given now.

We own time in different ways, with time for family and friends, time for work and time for ourselves, and sometimes we set time aside for God.

We allow ourselves time off.

At times we call ‘time out!’

Today, let us rejoice in the knowledge that the God who knows we live in time is able to be with us all the time.

This is the God who has seen our beginnings, who understands our present existence and who knows our endings.

With this God, our endings in time signal a new stage in our eternal life, where there is no ending.

And now we ask our God of grace to bless this time we have in time.


We pray for your world and all that you have made.

We pray for all people and all those who do the work of Christ.

We pray for your Church, for wisdom, guidance, courage and mercy.

We pray for all those who suffer and who are in need, especially those known to us.

We pray for all those who grieve.

We pray for our work today, for any decisions we will need to take.

We pray for all those we love, that you would protect them and give them peace.

We pray that as individuals and with others we might further your kingdom on earth.

And we pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples:
Our Father …

May the God who created us and loved us even before we were in our mother’s womb, surround us with arms of love, give us a calm mind and breathe into our hearts and souls the peace that passes understanding.

Meditation on Time, original prayers and blessing by Christina Rees 2017

Christina Rees CBE was a member of General Synod for 25 years, and a founder member of Archbishops’ Council. She is a writer, broadcaster, communications consultant, and advocate for gender justice.


More about choosing a new Bishop of Llandaff

See earlier report here.

Today, this press release was issued: Bishop of Llandaff – appointment process

The Church in Wales’ bishops will consult on candidates for the next Bishop of Llandaff before meeting on March 14-16.

They will consult with members of diocesan bodies who will be invited to suggest names for the bishops to consider at the meeting.

The See of Llandaff has been vacant since the retirement of Dr Barry Morgan, who was also Archbishop of Wales, at the end of January.

A full statement follows:


At a meeting of the Electoral College of the Church in Wales held from February 21st to 23rd, no candidate nominated received the necessary two-thirds of the votes cast to be declared Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Llandaff.

Under the provisions of the Constitution of the Church in Wales, the right to fill the vacancy has passed to the Bench of Bishops, and the Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, as the Senior Bishop and President of the Electoral College, has determined that there should be a process of consultation before names for possible appointment are considered. The consultation is intended to focus upon the ongoing and future needs of the Diocese of Llandaff and its communities and the needs of the wider church in the life of which a new Bishop will also have an important role. Those consulted will be invited to suggest names of individuals who might be considered suitable for appointment as Bishop of Llandaff, and names must be suggested in time for the next meeting of Bishops which begins on March 14th.

In the Diocese of Llandaff those being consulted are:
1. Members of the Electoral College
2. Members of the Diocesan Standing Committee
3. The Area Deans

In the remaining five Dioceses, Bishops are consulting:
1. The members of the Electoral College
2. Members of the Diocesan Standing Committee

In addition to those being directly consulted, others may send (brief) E-mails to their Diocesan Bishop (please send them to Bishop John for the Diocese of Llandaff).

When they meet, the Bishops will consider all the names suggested to them as potential candidates for appointment in the hope that a suitable candidate can be identified. Unlike the Electoral College process, there is no fixed timetable for an appointment process. However, the Bishops would wish to announce any appointment made as soon as all necessary formalities are finalised.

The Bishops continue to ask for the prayers of the church both for the Diocese of Llandaff and for their own work as they continue to discharge their responsibility for discerning the person whom they believe will serve not only the Diocese of Llandaff but also the wider church in the office of Bishop.

Please note that the Llandaff Diocesan Profile and Person Specification for Bishop of Llandaff, and a note on the provincial perspective, may be found at:

Earlier today, a question was asked in the House of Commons about this election:

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

But discretion is not always good in the Church, is it? Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, has been barred from becoming a bishop in the Church in Wales, which I know is separate from the Church of England, because the other bishops have refused to do what they have done in every other case—accept what the members of the local diocese have wanted.

Dame Caroline Spelman

I am not responsible for the Church of Wales—[Interruption]—because I am responsible for the Church of England. However, I appreciate the point the hon. Gentleman is trying to make. This is a really serious matter, and we should heed what the Archbishop of Canterbury, as the head of the Anglican communion, said about the need to have radical Christian inclusivity. The Church of England is working within the current legal and doctrinal context towards a culture change that is inclusive.