Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Warrington to retire

The Rt Revd Richard Blackburn, the suffragan Bishop of Warrington in the diocese of Liverpool, has announced his retirement. His farewell service will take place on Saturday 21 April 2018.

From the Liverpool diocesan website: Bishop of Warrington announces his retirement

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Opinion – 30 September 2017

The Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal has been published quarterly since March 2017. Issues can be freely downloaded from here. There is some background information here.
The latest issue includes “Some Insights from Church Planting in the Tower Hamlets Deanery of the Diocese of London” by Carol Latimer.

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News The True God and the Real World

Church Times leader comment Taking a knee

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of speaking

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Speaking as a fool for God

Martyn Percy Christian Today Can the Church of England still afford nuance or ambiguity? Some final thoughts on Sir Philip Mawer’s Sheffield review

Richard Peers Quodcumque De-throning the ego: address to the Diocese of Leicester Catholic Societies, Michaelmas 2017

WATCH Ministry Statistics published September 2017


Statement re St Sepulchre from Bishop Pete Broadbent, Acting Bishop of London

Updated Friday

We reported on the row over the policies of the Church of St Sepulchre Holborn, in London, here and here. Today the Acting Bishop of London has issued a statement on this particular matter and the more general issue of booking space for musicians. The full statement is copied below the fold, but here are two extracts:

Major flagship concerts and rehearsals in preparation for these concerts will still take place at St Sepulchre, and the PCC is developing a wider programme of music which they will be announcing soon. I am pleased a new album from their choir will also be released shortly.


The Diocese has a role to play in facilitating and encouraging stronger relationships between the Church in London and the musical community, including making it easier for musicians to access rehearsal and concert space. The wide coverage of these matters has convinced me that we need to improve access to churches which are willing and able to provide such space. So, as from 1 November, we shall be launching a website – – that will provide easy access to hire space and booking options for musicians in London, as well as be used as a tool to promote concerts and events. I do hope this will also allow us to help support and encourage new musicians, as they form ensembles, and bring together family, friends and the wider public to enjoy the creativity and celebration of God-given musical talent.

I am confident that these steps, along with a clearer programme of activities at St Sepulchre, will start to rebuild confidence in our partnerships and focus our minds on growth. Growth in the work of the church, growth in the use of our buildings, and growth in the music performed in our churches.


The rector of St Sepulchre’s has issued this undated statement about music on behalf of the PCC. Since it refers to the above statement it must have been issued today (Thursday).

Press reports

Church Times The ‘Musicians’ Church’ goes virtual as St Sepulchre’s sticks to its guns

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian London church rebuffs bishop’s efforts to get it to remain concert venue



Gavin Ashenden "consecrated as missionary bishop"

Christian Today reports that Gavin Ashenden, who left the Church of England earlier this year, has been “consecrated as a missionary bishop to the UK in the Christian Episcopal Church”.

In her report, Ruth Gledhill writes that “he will work closely with Bishop Andy Lines, also recently consecrated a missionary bishop to work with conservative evangelical churches” and that Ashenden was consecrated in Vancouver “during the course of an Episcopal Synod”.

Ashenden is quoted as saying that the Church of England had “not been very generous” in providing conservative or traditionalist bishops. And further: “I will oversee anybody who asks. I have a trail of people coming to my door asking for support, spiritual direction and advice. Obviously my oversight will be informal, it will have no legal basis at all.” He said he was approached by the Christian Episcopal Church, which regards it as a “duty” to help traditionalist Anglicans across the globe.

There is a press release here which is dated “29 September”.


Ministry Statistics 2016

The Church of England has released its Ministry Statistics 2016, and an accompanying press release which is copied below. There is also a fact sheet on the number of ordinands entering training this year.

Number of women in ordained ministry at record high
27 September 2017

The number of people entering training to become priests in the Church of England is at the highest level for a decade with women making up more than half the total, according to new figures released today.

A total of 544 men and women are starting training for ordained ministry this autumn (known as ordinands), an increase of 14% on last year and the highest figure for 10 years, according to statistics from the Ministry Division of the Church of England.

Women make up more than half of those entering training, or 274 ordinands, the biggest intake of female ordinands for a decade, and an increase of 19% compared to last year. At the same time, the number of younger ordinands, in the under 32 age group, rose by nearly two fifths, and now accounts for 28% of the total.



Opinion – 27 September 2017

Andy Hill Metro I’m an atheist who goes to church – here’s why you should too

Scott Cowdell ABC Religion and Ethics Gender and Identity: Freeing the Bible from Modern Western Anxieties
Tony Payne ABC Religion and Ethics Is There Moral Truth Out There? A Response to Scott Cowdell on Gender and Identity

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love ‘Feeling’ and ‘knowing’ – David Jenkins’ Guide to the Debate about God

Alister McGrath ABC Religion and Ethics Is God a Figment of Our Imagination? On Certainty, Scepticism and the Limits of Proof
[Professor McGrath is giving a public lecture, C. S. Lewis for Today: Making Sense of Faith and Culture, in Liverpool on 25 October 2017. Details are here.]


Open Letter to Primates

The General Synod Human Sexuality Group have published the text of a letter sent from them to all the Primates of the Anglican Communion ahead of their meeting next week.

In the letter the Group (which represents 240 synod members and wants the Church of England to be fully inclusive of LGBTI people) reminds the Primates that “the direction of travel” for the church is now “clearer than ever”.

In a press release, Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of the Group said:

Synod has shown both in its non-acceptance of the House of Bishops’ Report on Same-Sex Relationships and in its desire to condemn conversion therapy and welcome transgender Christians, that it wants to be a fully inclusive church. The status quo is no longer an option — people are deeply concerned about the impact on our mission to the nation of the Church’s current stance towards LGBTI people.

Group member Jayne Ozanne said:

The medical profession, including the World Health Organisation, is clear that conversion therapy causes stigma and prejudice towards the LGBTI community. It is critically important that the Church recognises this and takes a lead to condemn it.

The full text of the letter is copied below the fold.



Opinion – 23 September 2017

Mark Clavier The Living Church The Sea Change: Reflections of a Former Theological Educator

Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News Loyalty and Obsession

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of ordination, speaking of good will

Jesse Zink Church Times Born in discord, striving for harmony

Janet Traill explains the Colenso affair, which was the trigger for the first Lambeth Conference: Church Times A question of authority


Updates from the Global South and from GAFCON

As some of our commenters continually remind us, it’s important to keep straight the distinction between the Global South and GAFCON. They are two separate, albeit overlapping, groupings.

Global South Primates’ Communique, September 9, 2017 (Cairo)

[GAFCON] Chairman’s September 2017 letter

Is Gafcon divisive? by Peter Jensen


Voting in the July General Synod

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth has written to explain his vote last July,when he was the only member of the House of Bishops to vote against the PMM on Conversion Therapy, as finally amended. His letter is available here.

This has reminded me that there was a detailed analysis of the voting in July produced by Andrew Goddard which I should have linked to here much earlier. See Synods, Sexuality and Symbolic and Seismic Shifts.

There is also a more detailed paper, with far more information, Understanding Synod’s July 2017 Sexuality Debates and Votes.

This sheds some light on the concerns leading to the CEEC steering committee letter to which I did link earlier, over here.


Living Ministry study

Last Friday’s Church Times carried a news item by Madeleine Davies headlined Clergy living comfortably, long-term Living Ministry study suggests. This was based on “the first fruits of a large-scale Ministry Division survey”. The report “Mapping the Wellbeing of Church of England Clergy and Ordinands” itself is somewhat hidden away on the Church of England’s Ministry Development website where you can download the full report and an executive summary.

Panel Survey Wave 1 Report
Panel Survey Wave 1 Report Executive Summary

But Doug Chaplin’s eye was caught by the paragraph that suggested all was not quite as well as the Church Times headline suggested, and he writes about it here: Living comfortably: the fiction of a stipend?


Dean of Exeter

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Dean of Exeter: Jonathan Greener
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Published: 19 September 2017

Reverend Jonathan Desmond Francis Greener has been appointed Dean of the Cathedral Church, Exeter.

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend Jonathan Desmond Francis Greener, MA, Dean of Wakefield, in the diocese of Leeds, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Exeter, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Jonathan Lee Draper, BA, PhD, on 31 August 2017.

Background information

The Very Reverend Jonathan Greener (56) trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He studied Theology and Religious Studies at Trinity College, Cambridge. He served his title as Curate at St Matthew, Elephant and Castle, in the diocese of Southwark from 1991 to 1994 before becoming Bishop of Truro’s Domestic Chaplain from 1994 to 1996. From 1996 to 2003 he was Vicar at the Good Shepherd, Brighton in Chichester diocese. From 2003 to 2007 he was Archdeacon of Pontefract in Wakefield diocese. From 2007 to 2014 he was Dean of Wakefield in Wakefield diocese and since 2014 he has been Dean of Wakefield in Leeds diocese.

He is married to Pamela, a retired international tax accountant, now a freelance musician.

His interests include photography, cookery, languages and travel.


Food Poverty in Britain

The Church Urban Fund has issued a report, introduced by its Executive Director, Canon Paul Hackwood …

… that sheds light on the extent of food poverty in the UK. It shows that 1 in 50 British adults used a food bank in 2016. It also shows that 5% of British adults missed meals last year because they could not afford to eat.

These figures offer a deeply troubling reflection of food poverty in Britain. At Church Urban Fund we are calling for a response to this from all sections of society. Government, businesses, and individuals all have a responsibility to make a difference. The responsibility for tackling this issue cannot be left with churches and charities, important though this work is.

I encourage you to take a look at the report and our recommendations for action. We are working hard to bring an end to hunger in the UK and so any contributions you can make to this work will be greatly appreciated.

The full report can be found at the CUF website here.


Opinion – 16 September 2017

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of faith in the public square

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Is “Sorry” Too Easy a Word?

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Troubles with Trebles

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The unconditional and the insistence of God

A little world made cunningly: in defence of the parish
St Mellitus will host a debate asking whether the parish has had its day. Priests from across the country told Church Times their answers.


Media coverage and responses to Mawer report

Updated again Tuesday

The Church Times has this report by Paul Handley The Philip North Sheffield fiasco — and the question that simply wasn’t asked. And this further report: Theology and pastoral practice need further work, Mawer review into Philip North affair concludes.

Christian Today Harry Farley reports Church of England asked to consider ‘fundamental challenge’ to women bishops agreement.

Sheffield Star Sheffield bishop appointment who would not ordain women priests ‘surprise to many’, says report.

BBC Church of England ‘did not anticipate’ Bishop of Sheffield row.

Premier Radio Independent report says Sheffield controversy shouldn’t stop Philip North becoming a senior bishop.

Christian Today has a new article by Martyn Percy titled Consciences, Convictions and Consequences: A Brief Response to the Review of the Nomination to the See of Sheffield.

There is also an article about that article by Harry Farley titled Ban conservative bishops until we have gender equality, Church told. Earlier he had written about the FinF response below, with the headline Sheffield debacle shows CofE needs to promote more traditionalists, campaigners say. I recommend reading the underlying articles in full to get a more nuanced understanding…

This topic was also covered in the Church Times podcast published last week.

Organisational Responses:

Forward in Faith has published this response: Response to the Sheffield Review.

Women and the Church has published this: Statement from WATCH on the Release of the Independent Reviewer’s Report on the Sheffield Nomination.


Independent Reviewer’s report on See of Sheffield

Church of England press release

Independent Reviewer’s report on See of Sheffield published
15 September 2017

A report of the review of nomination to the See of Sheffield by the independent reviewer Sir Philip Mawer has been published today.

The report and appendices set out the findings of a review requested by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in March this year following the announcement that the Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, was to withdraw from nomination to the Diocese of Sheffield.

The 75-page report draws from meetings with and personal submissions from more than 100 people (including over 60 from the Sheffield diocese) over recent months seeking to learn lessons from the events surrounding Bishop North’s nomination to and subsequent withdrawal from the See.

Sir Philip was appointed in 2014 as Independent Reviewer to resolve disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration, which sets out the Five Guiding Principles behind the legislation which opened the way for women bishops. His report seeks to set out valuable lessons for the wider Church of England following events in Sheffield.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: “We are very grateful and deeply indebted to Sir Philip for this detailed, thoughtful and authoritative review.

“We will be reading it carefully and discussing the lessons with the House of Bishops when it meets later this year and will respond in greater detail in due course.

“We reaffirm our commitment to the vital principle of mutual flourishing as the Church and will endeavour to maintain the bond of peace and affection and live God’s reconciliation in Jesus Christ, even amid difference on questions on which Christians may disagree Christianly.”

Concluding his report, Sir Philip remarks: “The story of what happened in respect of the Sheffield nomination is not populated by villains but by people who were simply seeking to do their best according to their own understanding of their responsibilities and in the light of their Christian convictions.

“There is, frankly, no merit, if those of differing convictions in the Church are to continue to live together, in anybody searching for scapegoats.”

He adds: “I have suggested in this report that further consideration under the auspices of the House of Bishops, of the theological and pastoral issues raised so far by the Church’s experience of living out the 2014 Settlement would be healthy.

“But at the end of the day of the day, the choice facing the Church is a simple one … whether to continue wrestling with the issues I have identified, for the sake of the Gospel, or whether to abandon the Settlement.

“If those who take the majority view in the Church are to retain credibility in the eyes of the minority, there is only one choice which I believe they can make.

“Equally if those in the minority wish to continue as honoured and full members of the Church of England, they need to ensure that they act and speak in ways which show understanding of the position of ordained women, which emphasise their commitment to the corporate life of the Church and which encourage the majority to remain unequivocally committed to the success of that Settlement, ‘that they may all be one ….. so that the world may believe’.”



College of Bishops residential meeting September 2017

The Church of England’s College of Bishops (ie all serving bishops) held its annual meeting this week, following which they issued this press release.

College of Bishops residential meeting September 2017
14 September 2017

The annual meeting of the College of Bishops of the Church of England was held in Oxford from 11-14 September with the theme of “Telling the Gospel of Salvation in Every place”, exploring how the Church ministers to every community in the country.

Over the four day meeting, a wide ranging agenda was discussed, including, Renewal and Reform, Simplification, Mission and Theology, Church Planting and Minority Ethnic Inclusion. Reflections and discussions took place in group and plenary sessions.

Members of the College were joined this year in the first two days of the meeting by a number of BAME clergy to help bring additional perspectives on how the Church of England can reach more effectively into every community.

As with all meetings of the College of Bishops, the considerations of the College took place in private and its conclusions will be subsequently referred to the House of Bishops.


Opinion – 13 September 2017

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Life in all its fullness and meditation in the body

Eric Reitan Religion Dispatches A 14-point Rebuttal to the Nashville Statement from a straight cis Christian man

Bibles, arm-waving, and incensePhilip North recounts visiting three very different Christian festivals this summer for Church Times
Ian Paul Psephizo Is there hope for unbelieving Britain?

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News This Love Ain’t Big Enough!


Opinion – 9 September 2017

Giles Fraser The Guardian The disestablishment of the church is now necessary and inevitable
Church Times Leader Comment Life with the ‘nones’
The above two articles comment on figures contained in the latest British Social Attitudes survey. Madeleine Davies has written about the figures for Church Times: Bishops unfazed by surge among the non-religious in latest British Social Attitudes survey.

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News In Praise of Activists…

Charles Clapham Unadulterated Love The House of Bishops’ proposed Teaching Document on Human Sexuality
[This is a consolidation of Dr Clapham’s comments on our article here.]

Jeremy Paxman Financial Times Jeremy Paxman on the Church of England’s fight to survive
As congregations dwindle, is the Church on the brink of extinction?
[You may find this article is behind a paywall; this has been happening to me intermittently.]


Dean of Peterborough

We reported in July that Canon Tim Sledge was to be the next Dean of Peterborough. The Bishop of Peterborough has now announced that Canon Sledge has withdrawn his acceptance of this post.