Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 February 2018

Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News “There are No “Problems” – There are Simply People!”

James Alexander Cameron Stained Glass Attitudes Church demolition and preservation revisited

Neal Michell The Living Church 11 Tips for New Ordinands


Upset in Tunbridge Wells

Anglican Mainstream has reproduced online this piece by Peter Sanlon, who as the article explains is at one and the same time:

Both churches are in Tunbridge Wells.

Securing a Future or Stockpiling Whitewash?

Dr Sanlon is not happy with the current state of the Church of England.

Dr Sanlon is also Convener of the “Anglican Partnership Synod” in Rochester. For those who don’t recall what the “Partnership Synod” in Rochester is, this earlier article from 2016 may help: Conservative evangelicals to form “shadow synod”.

Dr Sanlon was also a signatory here: The Movement for a Renewed Orthodox Anglicanism.

Other news reports about him from 2016 can be found in the Times of Tunbridge Wells:

Archdruid Eileen has been driven to comment on this: Disgusted with Tunbridge Wells.


Opinion – 24 February 2018

From The Guardian The Guardian view on religious education: teach humanism too
Letters in response Is religion really a toxic brand?

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of giving and withholding blessing

Church Times Retention, not just recruitment
Churches and charities ignore at their peril the views of volunteers, warns Stephanie Denning

James Woodward ViaMedia.News Is the Church of England Guilty of Ageism?

Alison Kings Fulcrum Anger: Not Such a Bad Thing


Calling from the Edge

We published earlier an announcement of the fringe event held alongside the recent General Synod meeting on 9 February. This was a partnership between St Martin in the Fields and Inclusive Church.

We are now publishing the text of one of the presentations that was given. Fiona MacMillan is a Trustee of Inclusive Church and Chair of the Disability Advisory Group at St Martin in the Fields.

Her talk can be downloaded from this link.

The booklet which celebrates five years of jointly sponsored conferences on disability & church can be downloaded from here.

Information on the earlier conferences is available here.

Meeting pods are essentially a little room within a room. They are primarily used for meetings, hence the name, but can be used for all kinds of purposes. These meeting pods come in all shapes and sizes to meet different needs. Pods can be open like the office itself or closed off for privacy and confidentiality. Closed pods are more beneficial because of their natural soundproofing. Open pods still have some basic level of soundproofing, so people can still hold private conversations. meeting pods


Opinion – 17 February 2018

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Is Organised Religion Inherently Abusive?

Lisa Oakley Church Times Understanding spiritual abuse

Jeremy Morris ViaMedia.News Know Your Enemies

Michael Volland Ridley Hall Cambridge Why residential training is here to stay


Bishop George Bell: this week's developments

The Chichester Observer reported on Monday 12 February: Church defends its position on Bishop Bell amid mounting pressure

This includes a report of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme item on the morning of Saturday 10 February:

Lord Carlile, having advised in his report that alleged perpetrators, living or dead, should not be publicly identified unless a ‘proper and adequate investigation’ is settled with ‘admission of liability’, has opening [sic] criticised the Church for ignoring his recommendations in announcing this new information.

Speaking on Radio 4 Today on Saturday morning ahead of the General Synod gathering for a third day, Lord Carlile said:
“It’s like a small dictatorial government deciding to go ahead and acting any way it wishes, regardless of due process of the rule of law.
“It flies in the face of the recommendations I made which the Church said it accepted. “The Church has got to get a grip on this.”

The programme also reported that the Church has denied Bishop Bell’s surviving family legal representation from their chosen barrister for this new investigation. Speaking on the programme on behalf of the Church, Tim Thornton, Bishop at Lambeth, said instead someone had been ‘put forward to represent the voice of Bishop Bell’ and his family…

On the same day, Martin Sewell wrote an article on the Archbishop Cranmer site, Church of England bullies George Bell’s elderly niece by denying her choice of lawyer. This long article really does need to be read in full, but here is a taster:

…Last December, Mrs Whitley would have taken comfort from the Carlile Report on the simple basis that if the original conclusion of the church’s Core Group is unsupportable through defect of process, then the reputational status quo ante applies. The Archbishop of Canterbury rather publicly does not agree, but in the Court of public opinion he is probably in a minority.

With the new matter placed prematurely in the public domain – against Lord Carlile’s specific advice – Mrs Whitley might have regarded that as simply the church’s token saving of face at a point when its sub-optimal competence in the handling of a historic case had been evidenced and asserted. ‘Look how transparent we now are’ is a way of kidding ourselves that things were/are not as bad as they were/are.

We all thought things would be done better the second time round, including the church putting right one of the more obvious errors of the first set of proceedings. The relevant Carlile recommendation had been: “The Core Group should have, in addition to someone advocating for the complainant, someone assigned to it to represent the interests of the accused person and his or her descendants.”

Those dealing with this new information acted with speed, but they had a problem. The old regulations which contributed to the errors referred to in ‘Bell 1’ were still in place; the House of Bishops have not yet formally accepted the Carlile Report; Church House was hurriedly drafting new regulations to address the need identified by Lord Carlile for a deceased accused to be represented at the Core Group. They wanted to ‘get on with it’, which is to be commended, but under pressure they gave themselves the unencumbered power to appoint the person who should represent that accused. Seeking the opinion of the family was plainly overlooked…

Today Martyn Percy also has a guest appearance at Archbishop Cranmer: ‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word: apologetics and apologies in the Bishop Bell case. He gives more detail on the latter point:

…Mrs Barbara Whitley, George Bell’s niece, and now 94 years of age, has made it clear that she wished to be represented by Desmond Browne QC. Yet without consulting with Mrs Whitley or the wider family further, on 8th February 2018, Graham Tilby of the NST informed Bell’s family and friends that he had assigned a Mr Donald Findlater to represent their interests and concerns. Moreover, it seems that Findlater had already attended the first Core Group meeting on 29th January 2018. At the time of that meeting Mrs Whitley had absolutely no idea about the new allegations. She has never met Findlater. So it must have been a strange and somewhat surreal sensation for the family and friends of Bishop George Bell to discover that the Church of England had appointed their defence advocate to represent Bell, without consulting the interested parties, and without anyone knowing what the “fresh information” consisted of…


A correspondent has kindly supplied a transcript of the BBC Today interview mentioned above.


Post Synod roundup

The voting lists from the electronic votes at last week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available.

Voting results – Item 12 [Mission and Ministry in Covenant – relations with the Methodist Church]
Voting results – Item 16 [Valuing people with Down’s Syndrome]

Also available is the official summary of Business Done.

Today’s issue of Church Times carries their usual detailed Synod reports. Here is my personal selection; all eleven are linked from here.

General Synod: safeguarding presentation
General Synod: presentation and debate on Crown Nominations Commission
General Synod: debate on valuing people with Down’s syndrome
General Synod: presentation on Digital evangelism


Justin Welby – Five years at Canterbury


Justin Welby became Archbishop of Canterbury five years ago this month. To mark the occasion Paul Handley, the editor of Church Times, has interviewed the archbishop: To bless and not to bless: Archbishop Welby in conversation.

Andrew Brown of The Guardian gives us his view: With piety and steel, Justin Welby has the church in his firmest grip. “The Archbishop of Canterbury has shaped the CofE to his will with a skill of a politician – and made it all the better.”


There is an edited audio recording of the Church Times interview with the archbishop here.


South Sudan has a female bishop

George Conger reported on 3 February: First woman bishop for GAFCON province

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan has consecrated its first female bishop. Anglican Ink has learned that on 31 December 2016, the Most Rev Daniel Deng Bul, primate of South Sudan and Archbishop of Juba consecrated the Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek.

Archbishop Deng, who retired last month, upon the election of his successor, the Most Rev. Justin told Radio Good News: “It was in my dream to ordain a woman as bishop in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan before I leave”.

Rumors of a female bishop in South Sudan arose early last year, but queries to the provincial secretary and Archbishop Deng were not answered. The website of the Anglican Consultative Council does not show an assistant bishop for Rumbek and no mention of Bishop Awut’s consecration has been made on the Anglican Communion News Service. However, group photos taken at last month’s meeting of the South Sudan House of Bishops showed one bishop in a skirt holding a handbag. Subsequent queries identified her as Bishop Elizabeth.

Bishop Elizabeth becomes the third African female bishop, following the Rt. Rev. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, who was elected bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland on 18 July 2012 and ordained and installed on 10 November 2012. Her appointment was closely followed by the election, on 12 October 2012 of Margaret Vertue as bishop of the Diocese of False Bay. She was consecrated and installed on 19 January 2013.

Bishop Elizabeth also becomes the first female GAFCON bishop. The GAFCON primates had asked the Churches of Uganda and Kenya to hold back from electing women bishops until GAFCON was of one mind on the issue. With the election of Bishop Elizabeth, pressure will mount for the East African churches to follow suit

GAFCON has issued: A Statement on the Consecration of a Female Bishop in South Sudan

From the beginning of the Gafcon movement there have been a variety of understandings among our members on the question of consecrating women to the episcopate. Recognising that this issue poses a threat to the unity we prize, the Primates agreed in 2014 to do what was within their power to affect a voluntary moratorium on the consecration of women to the episcopate. They then set up the Task Force on Women in the Episcopate, chaired by Bishop Samson Mwaluda which presented a report to the 2017 Gafcon Primates Council.

In discussion at this Council, the Primate of South Sudan, Archbishop Deng Bul (who had not been present when the moratorium was agreed) shared with us that his personal decision to consecrate a female bishop was an extraordinary action taken in the midst of civil unrest in a part of his country where most of the men were engaged in armed conflict.

The Gafcon Primates chose to not allow this anomaly to change the course followed since 2014. The Task Force was asked to continue to provide theological resources, and the Provinces were urged to continue the study of Scripture, to consult with one another and to pray that God will lead us to a common mind. The voluntary moratorium remained in place.

In accordance with these decisions, the Task Forces’ Report, which can be read here, is now being discussed at the regional level in advance of the April Gafcon Primates Council and the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem this June. Our hope is that the newly elected Primate of South Sudan will join us in these discussions as we seek to find a common mind, looking to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Peter Jensen, General Secretary
February 2018


Opinion – Ash Wednesday – 14 February 2018

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Ash Wednesday and going bonkers

Jonathan Clatworthy Château Clâteau Abusive spiritual beliefs produce abusive acts

Duncan Dormor USPG Deepening our awareness of the Global Church: Companion Links and Prophetic mission

Church and youth: ‘If someone said come to church I would have laughed’
Madeleine Davies of Church Times visits St Laurence’s, Reading, where teenagers have found a family


General Synod day 3

Updated Saturday night, Sunday morning and Monday evening

Order papers
afternoon [not available online]

Links to texts of the Safeguarding presentation at General Synod

Harry Farley Christian Today Church facing years of shame as extent of abuse emerges, bishop warns

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E faced 3,300 sexual abuse claims, figures reveal

Tim Wyatt Church Times Safeguarding: we’re doing better, Synod tells sceptical survivors

Olivia Rudgard Telegraph Clergy still believe some complainants are ‘simply out for the money’, abuse expert tells church leaders

Olivia Rudgard Telegraph Informal communities for nuns and monks becoming more popular – with daily prayers over Skype

Official press release General Synod affirms dignity and humanity of people with Down’s Syndrome
[see below the fold for the text of the motion as passed by Synod]

Madeleine Davies Church Times ‘Every human being is made in the image of God’: Synod unanimously backs motion on Down’s syndrome

Olivia Rudgard Telegraph Rate of Down’s syndrome abortions in UK and Europe is akin to Nazi eugenics, Church of England’s General Synod hears

Press Association (in The Guardian) C of E backs motion valuing people with Down’s syndrome

summary of the day’s business from Stephen Lynas: It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday…

video recordings
morning session
afternoon session



Opinion – 10 February 2018

David Walker ViaMedia.News Valuing People with Downs Syndrome – A Place to Start

Paul Child Rediscovering For The First Time The Special Child – A Candlemas Reflection

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes St Bride’s Liverpool Welcoming trans people – reaffirmation of baptism liturgy

Emma Percy Women and the Church #100 Women – #our time now

Andrew Graystone Church Times How to give bread, not stones

1 Comment

General Synod day 2

Updated Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon

Order papers

Official press release General Synod backs motion to tackle food waste

Christian Today CofE backs campaign to reduce food waste

Anglican Communion News Service C of E Synod endorses Anglican Communion links as central to mission and discipleship

Read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the General Synod in London today: Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address

Harry Farley Christian Today Archbishop warns Church of England against dangers of ‘radical change’

Olivia Rudgard Telegraph Church should not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ by making radical changes, Archbishop says

Official press release General Synod welcomes move towards communion with Methodist Church

Press release from the Methodist Church Church of England and Methodist Church to continue exploring closer communion

Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod shows its enthusiasm for closer unity with Methodists

Harry Farley Christian Today Church of England embraces unity with Methodist Church

Ruth Gledhill The Tablet Church of England and Methodists move towards unity

Diocese of Guildford Synod affirms Anglican Communion links in run-up to Lambeth 2020

summary of the day’s business from Stephen Lynas: Move in a little closer, baby

video recordings
morning session
afternoon session


General Synod day 1 press and other reports

Updated Friday morning and afternoon

Press reports on Thursday’s business

Tim Wyatt Church Times Choose bishops more openly, Synod members urge

Harry Farley Christian Today Entrenched opposition to women priests blocks Church’s diversity efforts, synod told

Anglican Communion News Service Justin Welby calls for greater Anglican Communion say in selection of successor

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian C of E raises serious concerns about Christian Freemasons


Stephen Lynas reviews what happened on Thursday The leader(s) of the pack

Archbishop of York General Synod Speech: “Discerning in Obedience: A Theological Review of the Crown Nominations Commission”

video recording of Thursday’s business


General Synod preview

The Church of England General Synod opens this afternoon. There are links to the agenda and papers here.

The Questions Notice Paper (with answers) is now available. Synod members will have the opportunity to ask supplementary questions later today.

There is an error in Questions 16 and 17; the correct text is in Notice Paper 7. There is also an error in Question 44, corrected in Notice Paper 10.

Stephen Lynas (a Synod member from Bath and Wells) previews the business: Oh, won’t you stay (just a little bit longer)?

A live video link is available here.


Further updates on the case of Bishop George Bell

Continued from here.

On Monday, Christian Today reported: Welby under pressure as General Synod members asked to back motion of ‘regret’ over Bishop George Bell case

And Martin Sewell wrote this analysis: Did Lambeth Palace know the ‘fresh information’ about Bishop George Bell before Lord Carlile published his report?

On Wednesday morning, the Church Times published a preview of an interview with Justin Welby which will appear in full on Friday: Bishop Bell’s accuser cannot be overlooked, says Welby.

This interview is, somewhat oddly, also previewed by Christian Today : Archbishop of Canterbury says George Bell’s accuser is as important as late bishop’s reputation.

ABC Radio (Australia) has a feature: The controversy surrounding George Bell which features Paul Handley, editor of the Church Times. The recording is about 10 minutes long.


CEEC council endorses paper on 'Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life'

From the Church of England Evangelical Council website:

Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life

At its January 2018 residential, the CEEC reflected on the attached paper ’Gospel, Church & Marriage – Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life’. The Council endorsed it for circulation as a reflection as to how the life changing goodness and ‘amazing grace’ of God can be brought to bear upon current and contentious discussion within the Church of England.

Read it here.


Opinion – 7 February 2018

Jude Smith Christian Today A radical proposal for the CofE’s Westminster headquarters: move out and do some good
Archdruid Eileen Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley A House (of Bishops) in the Country

David Ison ViaMedia.News Rolling With the Punch(line)

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of language; spiritual abuse and prayerful consideration


Mission and Ministry in Covenant – more opinions

Updated Thursday

For earlier articles about the Church of England’s relationship with the Methodist Church of Great Britain and the Mission and Ministry in Covenant report see here [last two items] and here.

Four posts from the Quodcumque blog about the report.
Richard Peers A Generous Catholicism and Beautiful Anomalies
Philip Murray Generous Catholicism: a reply to Fr Richard Peers
Andrew Davison Guest post from Andrew Davison on #MMIC: Being a 1662 Anglican
Richard Peers #MMIC – thoughts

Diarmaid MacCulloch Christian Today Why Anglicans who object to reconciliation with Methodists should read more history

Jonathan Draper Afterthoughts Anglicans, Methodists and the sticking plaster of unity

Paul Bayes Thinking a moment Mission and Ministry in Covenant
[a new blog from the Bishop of Liverpool]

Ian Paul Psephizo The Church of England and closer union with Methodists


Marcus Walker Archbishop Cranmer The Church of England should welcome Methodists into the fold of the historic episcopacy


House of Bishops responds to report on See of Sheffield


This press release was issued earlier today.

House of Bishops Response to the Independent Reviewer’s report on See of Sheffield.

The full text of the press release is copied below the fold.

Also published today is The Five Guiding Principles: A Resource for Study. This document is described on the CofE website thus:

The Five Guiding Principles had a crucial role in the Church of England’s decision in 2014 to open its three orders of ministry – bishops as well as deacons and priests – to all, without reference to gender. They provide basic parameters to help Anglicans with different theological convictions on this matter continue to relate to each other within one church, and are expected to be affirmed by every candidate for ordination in the Church of England.

The Five Guiding Principles: A Resource for Study has been developed by the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England following requests for resources in this area from – among others – those responsible for theological education.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said: “This resource will be invaluable not only to the Implementation and Dialogue Group but to all bishops, clergy and laity in thinking about what the Five Guiding Principles mean in our ministry and the life of the Church.

“This document is not intended to be the last word on the theological implications of the Five Guiding Principles. It is intended to contribute to the dialogue the Church needs.”


Forward in Faith issued a statement in response to this: The Five Guiding Principles:

Forward in Faith is grateful for the announcement of the House of Bishops’ acceptance of the recommendations made by the Independent Reviewer in his review of the nomination to the See of Sheffield.

We welcome the publication by the Faith and Order Commission of The Five Guiding Principles: A Resource for Study. We hope that widespread study of this booklet will prevent recurrence of the misrepresentation of the Five Guiding Principles that occurred in 2017.

We welcome the appointment of a group, chaired by the Bishop of Rochester, to review what has been done to inform and educate clergy and laity about the 2014 settlement, distil examples of good practice, and provide further resources. We trust that all who have accepted membership of this group are now committed to upholding the House of Bishops’ Declaration, including the Five Guiding Principles.

We also welcome the appointment of Sir William Fittall to succeed Sir Philip Mawer as the Independent Reviewer, and wish to express our thanks to Sir Philip for his work. Having played an important part in the process that resulted in the 2014 settlement, Sir William is well qualified to take over the role of defending it.

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson

Dr Lindsay Newcombe
Lay Vice-Chairman