Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – Sunday's business

Because the Church of England website has been totally rebuilt since this post was written, many of the links here no longer work. Please refer to a new post dated Saturday 27 January 2018.

Updated Monday morning

order paper for the day

Welcoming Transgender People

The Revd Christopher Newlands (Blackburn) moved on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

13 That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

Dr Nick Land (York) moved as an amendment:

59 Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert ̶
“(a) recognise the dignity of all people as made in the image of God and so affirm our commitment to welcome unconditionally in all our churches people who experience (or who have experienced) gender dysphoria;
(b) acknowledge different understandings around gender dysphoria and the field of gender identity more widely;
(c) consider that the preparation of liturgies to mark gender transition raises substantial theological and pastoral issues that the Church of England has not yet considered; and
(d) ask the House of Bishops to consider the theological, pastoral and other issues that gender transition raises for the Church and to report back to General Synod by the end of this quinquennium.”

The amendment was defeated in all three houses of Synod.

bishops: 11 for, 19 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 64 for, 103 against, 4 recorded abstentions
laity: 75 for, 108 against, 3 recorded abstentions

The Blackburn motion (as originally worded) was passed following a vote by houses.

bishops: 30 for, 2 against, 2 recorded abstentions
clergy: 127 for, 28 against, 16 recorded abstentions
laity: 127 for, 48 against, 8 recorded abstentions

Official press release: Welcoming Transgender People

Other business

The motion

That this Synod:
(a) welcome and support the proposal to establish a Covenant for Clergy Wellbeing as laid out in GS 2072; and
(b) invite the Appointments Committee to appoint a Clergy Wellbeing Working Group to bring proposals for such a Covenant back to this Synod by July 2019.

was passed on a show of hands.

The Revd Tiffer Robinson moved his private member’s motion:

16 That this Synod:
(a) call upon the Secretary of State to include provision in the Schools Admission Code requiring admission authorities to allocate places to children of clergy and other workers who are required to live in tied accommodation, and are moving into the authority’s area, in advance of the family arriving in the area; and
(b) call on all admissions authorities to accept letters of appointment as proof of residence ahead of the children of clergy and other workers who are required to live in tied accommodation moving to the area.

It was passed on a show of hands.

press reports

Hattie Williams, Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod’s ‘welcoming’ transgender motion asks Bishops to consider liturgy

Madeleine Davies, Hattie Williams, Tim Wyatt and Gavin Drake Church Times Causes of clergy stress aired in the General Synod

Olivia Rudgard The Telegraph Transgender worshippers could get church services to celebrate their new identity after synod vote
‘Poisonous’ expectations of congregations are damaging priests’ mental health

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Anglican church set to offer special services for transgender people
Being parish priest was my most stressful job, says Justin Welby

BBC News Church of England votes to explore transgender services

Stephen Lynas continues his reports from Synod: bathwellschap R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me


Welsh bishops' correspondence about See of Llandaff revealed

The Church Times reports a further development in the saga surrounding the choice of a new Bishop of Llandaff: Emails reveal Welsh Bishops’ anxieties over potential appointment of gay dean Jeffrey John .

We reported on earlier episodes of this matter from 24 February onwards, most easily found by using this link.

The letter from the Welsh bishops objecting to the earlier leader in the Church Times criticising them can be found here.


Opinion – 8 July 2017

Bosco Peters Liturgy The Bishop’s Mitre

Jem Bloomfield quiteirregular Morality and Message: The Church of England, Young People, and LGBT Issues


General Synod – Saturday's business

Updated Sunday morning and afternoon

order paper for the morning session
order paper for the afternoon session

The morning started with a presentation by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the proposals for the pastoral advisory group on human sexuality and the development of the teaching document (GS Misc 1158). It was followed by a question and answer session.

Synod then debated Presence and Engagement: Report from the Archbishops’ Council’s Mission and Public Affairs Council (GS 2063). The motion, after amendment, read:

That this Synod, recognising the Church’s continued presence and engagement in parishes, chaplaincies and new missional communities in multi-religious contexts:
(a) commend the national Presence and Engagement (P&E) programme and offer prayerful support for its work over the next five years, requesting that the fruit of this be made available to the whole Church through the P&E Centres and that the programme report back to Synod at the end of this period;
(b) recognise the cultivation of relationships with other faith communities as a vital component of the Church’s mission in today’s society, and encourage dioceses to incorporate this into their mission plans; and
(c) re-affirm the Synod report “Sharing the Gospel of Salvation” (GS Misc 956) and call on the P&E Task Group to continue supporting parishes in bearing faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ with sensitivity and confidence among people of other faiths;
(d) noting the importance of relationships between churches and people of other faiths in maintaining community peace and solidarity in many P&E parishes, encourage churches and Christian people throughout the nation to reach out to neighbours and colleagues of other faiths to offer solidarity and friendship in times of tension, condemning the attempts of extremists to divide us, and challenging all hatred.

The debate was adjourned at 11.00 am as timed legislative business was reached.

The legislative business was the final approval of three measures. They were so uncontroversial that nobody voted against any of them.

There was then a brief presentation on the workshops on forms of national support for local churches to be held in the afternoon.

Synod then returned to the Presence and Engagement debate, when, after a few more speeches, the motion above was carried.

After lunch and the workshops, Synod debated National Support for Local Churches: Report from the Archbishops’ Council (GS 2069) and passed this motion:

That this Synod:
(a) welcome the range of evangelism and growth resources provided by the national church in support of local churches;
(b) note the progress made to support Life Events ministry since it was commissioned by the Archbishops’ Council in 2012;
(c) agree to encourage dioceses and parishes to engage with these areas of work through prayer and practical action; and
(d) call on the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops to report back to the Synod on a regular basis on the progress of these areas of support.

Conversion Therapy

Details of the original motion and the amendments are below the fold. The motion as finally put to Synod was:

12 (as amended) That this Synod:
(a) endorse the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK of November 2015, signed by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and others, that the practice of gay conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, potentially harmful and not supported by evidence; and
(b) call upon the Church to be sensitive to, and to listen to, contemporary expressions of gender identity; and
(c) call on the government to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy.

The motion was carried on a vote by houses.

bishops: 36 for, 1 against, 0 recorded abstentions
clergy: 135 for, 25 against, 13 recorded abstentions
laity: 127 for, 48 against, 13 recorded abstentions

Official press release: General Synod backs ban on conversion therapy

Press reports etc

Church Times During Pride in London, Synod in York calls for ban on conversion therapy

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England bishops ‘delaying same-sex equality’ move
Church of England demands ban on conversion therapy

Callum May BBC News Church of England: Plea for ‘urgency’ on new sexuality policy

Aine Fox and David Wilcock Independent Church of England bishops back motion calling for a ban on ‘unethical’ gay conversion therapy

Stephen Lynas continues his reports from Synod: bathwellschap Stop! In the name of love



General Synod – Friday's business

Updated Saturday morning

Order paper 1 – details of the day’s agenda

The main business of the day was a debate on After the General Election, a still small voice of calm.

The Archbishop of York moved this motion:

That this Synod, mindful that the recent General Election has left many questions unanswered about the shape and priorities of our government at a critical time in the nation’s history:
(a) give thanks, nonetheless, for the increased turnout and call upon all parties to build on this by addressing the causes of voter apathy and non-participation;
(b) pray for all those elected to Parliament that they will prioritise the common good of all people in everything they do, especially in negotiations between parties to secure support for a legislative programme;
(c) pray for courage, for our political leaders as they face the constraints and opportunities of uncertainty and weakness, and for the people of the nation as they too face unprecedented questions about the future;
(d) call upon Christians everywhere to maintain pressure on politicians of all parties to put the cohesion of the nation and its communities at the heart of their programmes;
(e) commend the continuing work of the churches serving the poor and vulnerable, at home and worldwide, as an example of the priorities which we hope to see in the programmes of government; and
(f) commit the Church of England to maintaining strong and generous international relations, through our dioceses, the Anglican Communion and ecumenical links, as relationships within the United Kingdom, across Europe and worldwide face new tensions and challenges.

Text of the Archbishop’s speech proposing the motion

Six amendments to the motion were proposed, all of which were comprehensively defeated. But they took up a lot of time, which would have been better devoted to the main motion.

At the end of the debate the substantive motion was overwhelmingly carried.

Official press release on the debate: Synod calls for values-based politics based on the common good

Church Times report by Madeleine Davies, Hattie Williams and Gavin Drake: We don’t ‘own’ our money, says Dr Sentamu

Stephen Lynas is a Synod member who offers his own view of the day’s business: bathwellschap There’s something in the air


General Synod opens today

The July meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England opens this afternoon in York.

Pre-Synod news and comment

Madeleine Davies Church Times Synod to debate state of the nation [includes preview of whole agenda]

Hattie Williams Church Times Synod members threaten to walk out if Scottish pro-gay marriage bishop present at York meeting

Pat Ashworth Church Times Presence & Engagement report highlights challenges faced in multi-religious areas

Harry Farley Christian Today Questions of sexuality and abuse to dominate Church of England synod
Conservative Anglicans threaten synod boycott in outrage at pro-gay Scottish bishop’s attendance

Jeremy Fletcher On Synod and the Kingdom

Synod papers etc

online papers


live video stream [when in session]


General Synod – Questions

The Questions (and Answers) to be taken at General Synod on Friday afternoon are now available for download here.

Only supplementary questions (if any) and their answers are taken on the floor of Synod; the original questions and answers are not read out. Even so it is unlikely that all 85 questions will be reached in the one hour allocated. They will be taken in the order listed. Since the 28 questions to the House of Bishops (mainly on sexuality and safeguarding) are first they are sure to be reached.

1 Comment

Opinion – 5 July 2017

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The Church of England – not fit for purpose

Ian Paul Psephizo Why bishops should throw away their mitres


More cover-up allegations against bishops

Updated Wednesday

Archbishop Cranmer today has an article titled Child abuse in the Church of England: hypocrisy, inconsistency and ongoing cover-up.

Although the abuse described in the article can be considered “historic” (it happened in 1984) the cover-up allegations are quite contemporary, the relevant actions, or rather inactions, only starting in 2012.

Readers may recall that we linked almost a year ago to this Guardian report: Senior Anglican clergy accused of failing to act on rape allegations.

There will no doubt be further developments in this story.


Archbishop Cranmer has published two guest posts by Martin Sewell, a retired Child Protection Lawyer and a member of General Synod.

Lord Carey’s forced resignation is an injustice: he, too, was a victim of Peter Ball

Safeguarding in the Church of England: when is a victim of child-abuse not a victim?

From the second of these:

Yesterday I advanced a more sympathetic perspective on why Lord Carey might have acted so imprudently in the case of Peter Ball. I did so because my experience in dealing with such tragic cases is that everybody involved is damaged in some way, even the ‘neutrals’ and the ‘winners’. By the time you finish reading this piece, you will, at the very least, be convinced of that proposition.

When Safeguarding goes wrong everybody gets hurt.

So today I grasp a much more uncomfortable nettle and explore whether things have changed sufficiently to enable us to be confident that similar errors are not being replicated in the Church of England today. If we have continued to make the same mistakes, then we truly have to rethink our whole Safeguarding regime and to introduce a significant outside professional element…


Deans moving on

Modern Church has announced that the Very Revd Dr Jonathan Draper has been appointed as General Secretary of Modern Church, with effect from 1 September 2017. Dr Draper is currently the Dean of Exeter.

It has also been announced that the Very Revd Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury, is leaving in October to “study for a second doctorate and contribute to the life of the Church as a writer, author and theologian”.


Few British Anglicans believe same-sex relationships 'always wrong'

Savi Hensman has written this article, published by Ekklesia: Few British Christians think same-sex relationships ‘always wrong’.

Only a sixth of British Anglicans agree with the Church of England’s official view on same-sex relationships, the 2016 British Social Attitudes Survey reveals. Opinions among other Christians too have shifted hugely.

Just 16 per cent of Anglicans now believe that sex between two adults of the same sex is always wrong. The percentage is even lower among Roman Catholics – just 13 per cent, similar to the average of 12 per cent for all faiths and none.

This rises to 19 per cent for other Christians and 37 per cent among other faiths, while it is just five per cent for those of no religion. However Natcen, which carries out the survey, warns that the numbers of Catholics and non-Christians surveyed was low, so their figures may not be wholly reliable.

The wording of the question is also unclear, making it harder to interpret the results. People are asked whether sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are always wrong, mostly wrong, sometimes wrong, rarely wrong or not wrong at all.

But choosing ‘mostly wrong’, ‘sometimes wrong’ or ‘rarely wrong’ might have nothing to do with gender. For instance some Christians might opt for ‘sometimes wrong’ because they disapprove of casual sex or infidelity, for opposite-sex or same-sex couples…

The original press release from the National Centre for Social Research is here: British Social Attitudes reveals Britain wants less nanny state, more attentive parent which includes the following:

…Free to love: Britain’s sexual liberalisation continues unfettered with views on everything from sex before marriage to same-sex relationships and adult films becoming more liberal than ever before. Most striking has been the shift in the views of Britain’s Christian population and the closing of the gap in views between younger and older people.

  • Sex before marriage: Three quarters (75%) now say sex before marriage is “not wrong at all”. This stood at under two thirds (64%) in 2012. 73% of Anglicans agree that sex before marriage is not at all wrong, up from 54% only four years earlier and around double the proportion who said this in 1985. In 2005 the gap between the youngest and the oldest people on whether sex before marriage is “not wrong at all” was 53 percentage points, it has now halved to 25 points.
  • Same-sex relationships: Attitudes towards same-sex relationships have become significantly more liberal with 64% of people now saying that they are “not wrong at all”, up from 59% in 2015, and 47% in 2012. Over half (55%) of Anglicans say same-sex relationships are “not wrong at all”, up from 31% only four years previously.

And the full text of the relevant chapter of the study is downloadable from here.

Two tables which show the more detailed breakdown referenced by the Ekklesia article can be seen here.


Opinion – 1 July 2017

Peter Edge Law & Religion UK Tynwald and the Bishop of Sodor & Man

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK “Misconduct in Public Office” revisited

The texts of two talks given at the recent Ken Leech conference in Liverpool are now available for download here.
Alison Milbank Subversive Orthodoxy
George Guiver CR True Prayer and the 21st-century Church