Thinking Anglicans

William Nye's letter: a development

Olivia Rudgard at the Telegraph has now reported on reactions to the letter from William Nye, and her report contains an important new revelation. The article Church of England split over US plan to remove ‘husband and wife’ from marriage service concludes with this information:

…A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The request was addressed to the Secretary General, as Provincial Secretary of the Church of England, who then consulted both Archbishops.

“It was concluded that as there was not time for full consultation of the House of Bishops – which meets only twice a year – a reply should be sent at staff level.

“Church House staff therefore produced a reply, in consultation with the Archbishops and the Bishop of Coventry, the chairman of the Faith and Order Commission.

“Mr Nye replied as Provincial Secretary.”

That’s rather different from the original letter which simply said:

…This response, therefore, reflects discussions among staff of the Archbishops’ Council only.


Civil Partnerships: a look back at 2007

In his not-quite-so-recent letter to TEC, William Nye wrote:

… we [i.e. the Church of England] were nevertheless broadly able to accept, some dozen years ago, the Government’s proposals for Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples, which conferred all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, but did not treat sexual activity as intrinsic to the relationship…

It may be instructive to look at the documents from the period 2003 to 2007 to see if that is really how it was at the time.

When Mr Nye’s previous letter addressed to Andy Lines of GAFCON was published in November 2016, Professor Iain McLean commented here (scroll down from link) to correct him then:

The legislative history is more complicated than Mr Nye makes it sound. I may need more than one post to explain.

First, 2004 and civil partnerships. I re-post something I wrote for the Guardian which has been posted here before:

“The main Lords debate on the civil partnership bill took place in June 2004. Richard Harries, then bishop of Oxford, did indeed signal Church of England support for civil partnerships. But his efforts were contradicted by the five conservative bishops who spoke on the other side. Going by the bishops’ contributions to debate, the score is 5/3 against. Going by the bishops’ votes, it is 6/1 against. Six bishops voted for a successful wrecking amendment in the name of Lady O’Cathain, which made the bill unworkable. Only the Commons’ insistence on rejecting the O’Cathain amendment made it possible to enact civil partnerships”

It is true, as posted in a later comment on that thread, that the bishops voted against the O’Cathain wrecking amendment when offered a second time. But if the Commons had not done what they did, there would have been no civil partnership act – not then anyhow.

The history of the CofE’s dealings with the government over civil partnerships is admirably summarised in a paper prepared on behalf of the House of Bishops for a General Synod debate in February 2007. As this document along with thousands of other archived items disappeared some months ago from the Church of England website, it is possible that Mr Nye wasn’t able to review it while preparing his letter. Fortunately I have found another source for it, and it is available here.

The occasion for its preparation was a synod private member’s motion, from a member who was clearly not supportive of Civil Partnerships- A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England that the bishops had issued in 2005. Here is a copy of the briefing paper he prepared (again from another archive).

The ensuing debate and its outcome was reported here at the time: GS: Civil Partnerships. The original wording of the PMM was roundly rejected but the bishops were unable to persuade the synod to vote to “recognise the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Statement as a balanced and sensitive attempt faithfully to apply the Church’s teaching to civil partnerships”.


Opinion – 28 April 2018

Angela Tilby Church Times Deliver us from the Evangelical takeover

David Goodhew The Living Church Lambeth 2020 and the Growth of Asian Anglicanism
An earlier article looked at Lambeth 2020 and African Anglicanism

Edward Dowler Church Times State-owned churches are not the answer, Sir Simon
“The cold hand of secular authority cannot replace the stewardship of a living, breathing community”


Further reactions to the letter from William Nye

Updated Monday morning

For the original letter from William Nye, see here.

The response from OneBodyOneFaith was reported here.

In today’s Church Times there are three separate letters to the editor:

  • The second comes from 13 members of the General Synod Human Sexuality Group (scroll down)
  • The third comes from General Synod member Anthony Archer (scroll even further)

Jayne Ozanne has published a response on the ViaMedia site, titled Letters to America – Is the End Nye?

The letter which is embedded in this article is also available for public signatures: Letter from Church of England members to TEC on same-sex marriage rites.

Update Monday morning

The letter has been signed by over 300 people, and is being sent to TEC today. See press release here.


Death of David Edwards announced

Southwark Cathedral has announced the death of the former Dean of Norwich and earlier Provost of Southwark, the Very Revd David Edwards.

The Very Revd David Edwards OBE 1929-2018
Thursday, April 26, 2018

It was with sadness that we heard of the death of the Very Revd Dr David Edwards, OBE in Winchester on Wednesday 25 April 2018. David, as well as being Sub Dean at Westminster, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Dean of Norwich, had been Provost of Southwark from 1983 until 1994. He was a man of huge distinction, a great academic, chronicling, amongst other things, the history of the church. Those who worked with him speak of his kindness and generosity, a man who lived out the principles of inclusion before they were ever fashionable in the Church of England. He was partly responsible for the first development of buildings on the north side of the Cathedral, work begun by his predecessor, Harold Frankham, but brought to fruition by David. Like a former Bishop of Winchester, Lancelot Andrewes, David would be at his studies and his writing before noon, a real scholar.

As Dean of Southwark, I am in awe of my predecessors who were men of stature within the life of the Church of England. They each helped to create Southwark Cathedral as a vibrant, engaged, welcoming and inclusive community in which theology, orthodox and radical, taught and lived, was central and vital. David was premier amongst these in terms of his scholarship.

We extend our love and prayers to his children and pray that he may now receive the reward that awaits him from the God he loved and knew and served.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Andrew Nunn



Interim report from IICSA

IICSA issued an interim report yesterday.

There is an excellent summary of the points relevant to churches at Law & Religion UK titled IICSA Interim Report: Main points.

The Church of England also issued a press release.

The Church Times has a report: ‘A dog collar is like a key to everyone’s front room in the parish’.

Christian Today has this: Abuse victims can feel ‘abandoned or punished by a god’, IICSA interim abuse report says.


Brechin and St Andrews list candidates for episcopal election

Two announcements from the Scottish Episcopal Church this afternoon:

Four candidates short-listed in vacancy for new Bishop of Brechin

The candidates are:

The Very Rev Dr Francis Bridger, Rector, St Mary’s Church, Broughty Ferry and Priest in Charge St Martin’s Church, Dundee and Dean of the Diocese of Brechin

The Rev Markus Dünzkofer, Rector, St John the Evangelist Church, Edinburgh

The Very Rev Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans

The Very Rev Andrew Swift, Rector, Holy Trinity Church, Dunoon and St Paul’s Church, Rothesay and Dean of the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles

Three candidates short-listed in vacancy for new Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane

The candidates are:

The Rev Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Professor of Church History at the University of Glasgow and Honorary Assistant Priest, St Margaret’s Church, Newlands

The Rev Christopher Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster

The Rev Canon Ian Paton, Rector, Old St Paul’s Church, Edinburgh


Clergy Blue Files and Data Protection

Updated Friday

During the recent IICSA hearings, much was made of the way personal files of Church of England clergy were handled in the past. But what about the present?

The guidelines for bishops and their staff about the handling of clergy personal files are very clearly set out in a document dated April 2013, Personal Files relating to Clergy – Guidance for bishops and their staff which is available online here.

This document reflects the data protection legislation in force at the time it was written. New legislation on this subject comes into force on 25 May 2018, so the document will need to be updated soon, if it has not already happened. But the current guidelines are quite clearly stated and updating to the latest requirements will not be difficult.

However, it’s not at all clear that they are being consistently implemented across all dioceses. The evidence for this assertion is contained in a recently published article by Colin Coward: Clergy Blue Files and the illegal behaviour of bishops and their chaplains. This reports on recent email exchanges between a small number of chaplains to diocesan bishops.

Emails between four bishops’ chaplains asking questions about whether priests can be shown their Clergy Current Status Letter (CCSL) have been sent to me. Clergy Current Status Letters are sent by the bishop of the diocese from where a priest is moving to the bishop of the diocese to which they are moving. The emails show that some bishops and their chaplains have not read or do not understand the “Guidance for bishops and their staff Approved by the House of Bishops on 13th March 2013” concerning “Personal Files Relating to Clergy”…


Colin has posted a follow-up article: The Church of England’s systemically abusive culture which includes a letter he has written to the archbishops about all this, as well as discussing several other recent events.


Opinion – 25 April 2018

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News “Do as we say” or “Do as we do”?

Jon White The Episcopal Café Do priests and pastors need an office?

Pierre Whalon Anglican Communion News Service Living with Laïcité


Andrew Chandler writes about Bishop George Bell

Andrew Chandler, the biographer of Bishop George Bell, gave the address at a service of fellowship and encouragement for all those who have been affected by false allegations of abuse which was held on Saturday 17th March 2018, at St James’s Church Piccadilly.

The full text can be read here.

First published on the website and published here with kind permission of Andrew Chandler & FACT.

FACT is a UK based, voluntary, not for profit organisation, founded more than 16 years ago, whose work is focused on providing support to those who have been accused of abuse who maintain their innocence and who have never carried out similar offences or pleaded guilty to such offences. More detail here.


OneBodyOneFaith responds to William Nye

OneBody says “not in our name”: our open letter to William Nye

OneBodyOneFaith has sent a strongly-worded letter to William Nye after the emergence late last week of a letter he wrote last October to The Episcopal Church, on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council. Whilst acknowledging that he wrote only on behalf of members of the Council, of which he’s Secretary General, the wider membership of the Church of England will inevitably be associated by implication with his words – words which again more treat loving, committed same-sex couples as a ‘problem’ or an ‘issue’, not real people, created in the image of God.

OneBody wants to send a clear message to Mr Nye, and the wider Communion: not in our name…

You can download a copy of the letter here. And it is copied here below the fold.



Sussex Police close their investigation into Bishop George Bell

There are numerous reports in the media about this.

Olivia Rudgard in the Telegraph has Bishop George Bell investigation dropped by Sussex Police

Chichester Observer Police drop sex abuse investigation into Bishop Bell

Church Times Police drop latest investigation into George Bell

…The statement makes it clear that the police have no current safeguarding concerns, and that, therefore, no further investigation is necessary.

A spokeswoman for the Church of England’s national safeguarding team said that they had been conducting their own separate investigation since the new information was received in January. “We cannot make any further comment until the investigation is completed,” she said…


Opinion – 21 April 2018

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of being senior
The theopolitics of disassociation

Gilo Surviving Church Society for the Protection of Bishops – Gilo’s response
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Honesty and integrity in the Church – a response to Gilo

Mark Clavier The Living Church Morning Diary of a Cathedral Canon

Lorraine Cavanagh IICSA – Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Marcus Green The Possibility of Difference Ethical Leadership


William Nye writes to The Episcopal Church about marriage rites

Updated again Thursday

Madeleine Davies has a report in the Church Times: Nye letter warns about same-sex marriage rites

PROPOSALS to incorporate marriage rites used by same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States will increase pressure in the Church of England to “dissociate” itself, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has warned.

In a letter to the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which has produced the proposals, Mr Nye writes that, if the rites — written to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples — are incorporated into the BCP as the only marriage rite, “the pressure to dissociate the Church of England from TEC [the Episcopal Church], in all manner of ways, would increase”. Such a move would also be “potentially damaging” to work in the C of E to create a new teaching document on sexuality (News, 30 June), he writes….

The 8-page letter is contained in a file of responses from other Anglican Communion churches to a consultation request from The Episcopal Church for comments. This forms part of the materials prepared for the forthcoming General Convention in July.

The response from William Nye is now available separately here.

The response from the Scottish Episcopal Church is here.

There is also a response from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO).

And there are ecumenical responses too.


Reports of this letter have also appeared elsewhere:

The Times (behind paywall) Anglicans threaten split over ‘gay-friendly’ marriage rites

Premier American Anglicans would face ‘consequences’ over gender neutral wedding services

Further mentions:

Christian Today Pro-LGBT Anglicans hit back at letter threatening split over US gay friendly prayer book

Episcopal Café Who answers for the Church of England when the Episcopal Church asks about marriage?

Susan Russell Simon Says: “Let’s get the truth of the situation out there”


Opinion – 18 April 2018

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News After IICSA: Facing Up to Clericalism

Richard Peers Quodcumque “Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?” : my life in two rituals

Gerald McDermott Patheos Why do Anglicans say they walk a Via Media?

Jonathan Arnold The Spectator The joy of evensong


Opinion – 14 April 2018

In Christian Today Paul Richardson writes Senior clergy don’t need MBAs to deal with abuse
and Linda Woodhead responds Yes, theologies of forgiveness and confession have played a role in Church abuse and cover up

David Walker ViaMedia.News Challenging APCMs?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Too much sin and guilt, not enough forgiveness?

John Thomson Church Times Rural churches are open and here to stay
“Mission matters in the countryside — and the Church’s efforts can have a greater impact there than in the city”

The Hobson The Spectator Holy snowflakes: why young believers need to accept faith is controversial
“Are millennial churchgoers trying to make the church a safe space?”

Jonathan Draper Afterthoughts Doing theology in La La Land


No requirement for CNC candidates to declare conflicts of interest

The Church Times reports: House of Laity panel upholds Synod member’s seat on Crown Nominations Commission

A REQUEST to invalidate the election of a member of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has been rejected by an appeal panel, which has concluded that members are not required to declare conflicts of interest…

The full text of the decision of the panel can be found here.

At the time of writing, the final link in the Church Times report is broken, but it ought to be: Synod groupings rebut claims they are taking over the CNC

The O’Donovan report and related documents are linked in this report.


Opinion – 11 April 2018

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News Are We in Love with Sin?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Self-examination and self-knowledge – missing essentials from the IICSA hearings

Andrew Brown The Guardian The NHS’s new humanist chaplain is a welcome sign of our shifting spirituality
“Formal religious belief may be falling off, but the need for ritual to mark major life events is still strong”


Ozanne Foundation launched

The Ozanne Foundation, whose formation was announced last December, held a formal launch event on Monday.

This press release was issued: Ozanne Foundation Unveils Strategy to Combat Prejudice.

At the event, Bishop Paul Bayes, chair of the trustees, delivered this speech.

News reports of the event:

Guardian Rejection by C of E has driven LGBT people to suicide, bishop says

Christian Today Bishop and senior clergyman join calls for Church of England to lose equalities exemptions

Telegraph The Church of England should lose its exemption to discrimination laws, Dean of St Paul’s says


Faith Leaders Condemn Two-child limit on Universal Credit

Sixty bishops have joined with other faith leaders to condemn the UK government Two-child limit on Universal Credit policy.

This has been very widely reported in the media.

C of E press release Bishops call for rethink on two-child limit

Bishop Paul Butler writes: A blessing not a burden: why every child should be valued equally

End Child Poverty report: Unhappy Birthday! The Two-Child Limit at One Year Old

End Child Poverty press release

The full text of the letter and the list of signatories is copied below the fold.